MARIANA An elderly man, with children and grandchildren gathered about, sits before a newly acquired Orthophonic Victrola. One after another, recent reproductions of [Stephen] Foster's songs by Nathaniel Shilkret's Orchestra and the Victor Singers are rendered. What a flood of memories pour through the mind and heart of him of three score years and ten! . . . Truth compels it to be recorded that silent tears were in evidence and deepest emotions stirred. In the quiet following the "concert" a chance remark made to the family bibliophile proved to be the spark that has brought into being a comprehensive collection of data and material pertaining to the life and work of America's greatest composer of beautiful melodies. Josiah Kirby Lilly (18611948), heir to the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company, described this informal concert of recorded songs by Stephen Collins Foster as the inspiration for collecting Foster's materials, which, in time, led to the expansive distribution and the most comprehensive documentation of his music and life.1 Lilly's collection and related projects have helped to clarify our understanding of Foster and amend some of the myths surrounding his life, while also acquainting the general public with a larger percentage of
American Music – University of Illinois Press
Published: Apr 24, 2012
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