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As the wagon trains rolled westward in the second half of the nineteenth century the rousing music and words of "Oh! Susanna" cheered the hearts of the pioneers. Since then this song and the many others Stephen Foster wrote have become known and loved by people all over the world.
From the time he was a small boy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Stevie Foster loved music more than anything else in the world outside of his family. Although his father didn't think much of his young son's interest in music, Stevie was determined to learn how to play an instrument and, with his brother Mit, he gave his first minstrel show to make money to buy a flute. All through his school days he was much happier playing his flute or a piano or composing songs than studying books. Finally when he was not yet twenty he sent along to the famous ballad singer, E. P. Christy, a copy of his new song, "Oh! Susanna." Christy sang it and it immediately caught on.
Esther Douty gives a vivid picture of this truly American composer and of his life in the colorful young cities of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the last century.
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