University of Pittsburgh
January 8, 2013

Pitt Celebrates Stephen Foster Day Jan. 11

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PITTSBURGH—The life and world-wide influence of Pittsburgh native Stephen Foster will be celebrated on Friday, Jan. 11, in an annual tribute to the country's first professional songwriter. Jan. 13 will actually mark the 149th anniversary of Foster's death. 

Foster was born in Lawrenceville on July 4, 1826, and went on to become a world-renowned songwriter, portraying life in mid-19th century America through such legendary compositions as "Old Folks at Home," "Oh! Susannah," "Camptown Races," “Hard Times Come Again No More,” and "Beautiful Dreamer." His music is still widely used today in television and films. Foster died at age 37 and is buried in Allegheny Cemetery. 

The celebration will take place at 11 a.m. Jan. 11 at the Temple of Memories Mausoleum, Allegheny Cemetery, 4715 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville. It will include:

  • Remarks by Tom Starsenic, superintendent of Allegheny Cemetery;
  • Medley of Foster songs performed by children from St. Raphael Elementary School, Morningside;
  • Remarks by Jim Wudarkczyk, Lawrenceville Historical Society; 
  • Remarks by Deane Root, director, Pitt’s Center for American Music;
  • Placing of wreaths at the Foster gravesite; and
  • Performance and group sing-along led by local guitarist and Pitt music faculty member Joe Negri.

Pitt’s Foster archives, housed in its Stephen Foster Memorial, contain a wide assortment of the composer’s manuscripts, photographs, first editions of sheet music, rare books, letters, and personal possessions, including his flute, a sketchbook, and the change purse he was carrying when he died.

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