University of Pittsburgh
December 23, 1997



Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 23 -- The life of Pittsburgh composer Stephen Foster will be celebrated for the 75th consecutive year Tuesday, Jan. 13, 1998 on the University of Pittsburgh campus and two other locations. The event marks the 134th anniversary of the songwriter's death.

Stephen Collins Foster was born in Lawrenceville on July 4, 1826, and went on to become our country's first professional songwriter, writing music to accompany American life in the mid-19th century. He died at the age of 37, but left behind a treasure trove of more than 200 legendary compositions, including "Old Folks at Home," "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair," and "Camptown Races." Foster is remembered as "The American Troubadour," though his songs have been sung around the world, in areas as remote as Tibet. He is buried in Allegheny Cemetery alongside his parents.

The Civic Club of Allegheny County began honoring Foster every January 13th beginning in 1923, and the University of Pittsburgh became involved a few years later, during construction of the Stephen Foster Memorial.

Local Jan. 13 activities commemorating Foster include:

10 a.m. Wreath Laying, Stephen Foster Statue, Oakland

Deane L. Root, Pitt musicologist and curator of the Stephen Foster Memorial, will place a wreath at Foster's statue on Forbes Avenue, adjacent to Carnegie Music Hall. Staff and friends of the Foster Memorial will sing Foster songs.

Noon Memorial Service, Trinity Cathedral, Sixth Street, Downtown

Performances by renowned guitarist Joe Negri and the chorus of Mt. Lebanon's Stephen Foster School highlight this service.

2 p.m. Wreath Ceremony, Allegheny Cemetery , Lawrenceville

This service takes place inside the cemetery's Temple of Memories Mausoleum, 4715 Penn Avenue, in front of a 15-by-9-foot Foster monumental stained glass window. A VFW Post will present colors, the St. John Neumann School choir will perform, and several wreaths will be laid both inside and at the graveside.

Stephen Foster Day services are sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Stephen Foster Memorial, Trinity Cathedral and the Allegheny Cemetery Historical Association.