KAZUKO Since the late nineteenth century, Stephen Foster's songs have been among the best-known American music in Japan for his simple, familiar tunes, which Japanese people associate with pastoral scenery or nostalgia for their native place or their childhood. Most Japanese students learn a number of Foster's songs in their music classes, from elementary through high school. Figure 1 shows several examples from music textbooks published in 2001. Japanese people also often hear his melodies on TV commercials and in many public places. Generally, their image of Foster is of a happy songwriter, but they have paid little attention to his life itself in the context of American history. In fact, many Japanese regard his music as part of their own cultural heritage. My first encounter with Foster's songs occurred in my middle school music class in the 1960s. I still remember singing songs such as "Oh, Susanna," "Old Folks at Home," "Old Black Joe," "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair," and "My Old Kentucky Home." I was also interested in their English lyrics, for it was at the time when Japanese children start to Kazuko is a professor of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in
American Music – University of Illinois Press
Published: Apr 24, 2012
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