The harp music of Stephen Foster

Composer Stephen Foster was born on July 4, 1826, the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  He blended classical music with the popular music of the day, influenced by the current culture. He was an extremely gifted composer of beautiful melodies with lyrics.  Though there is evidence that his family did not acknowledge his talent and all around genius, his contributions to the musical world are significant. Additionally and importantly, he paved the way for the next generations of musicians to receive the credit and royalties they deserve, and to support themselves with their art, talents and abilities.

Stephen Foster lived a short life, but attained credits such as “America’s First Composer” and “The Father of American Music”. Some information suggests that he was a self taught musician, but there is evidence that he studied music formally.  He was born in Lawrenceville, Pennnsylvania on July 4, 1826. Stephen was the youngest of eleven children.

He was a home-body and did his grammar school studies privately at home where his musical genius began to show itself. The family had house concerts, where he premiered Oh! Susanna. Prior to that, though, his first song was “Open Thy Lattice Love”.

Around 1846 he moved to Cincinnati to work as a bookkeeper for his brother’s Steamboat Agency. The culture in that city was compelling for Stephen, and he began writing music full time.

His life was not easy, and there are many myths about him, which you can explore here: Stephen Foster Myths: One thing I had always been told was that he did not receive proper remuneration for his works. According to the above website, in Foster’s life-time copyright law did not protect composers’ own interests. Case in point, his collections are available on IMSLP.

You can read more about him on wikipedia at

He wrote words and music to some 200 songs and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. See:

His songs were beautiful and sentimental. To just name a few, Slumber My Darling from Kim Robertson’s “Shady Grove” ( is a gorgeous 3-page arrangement. Louise Trotter’s “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” is arranged in a very “Louise” style and is so pretty.

Angi Bemiss has a straightforward arrangement of Beautiful Dreamer and Frank Voltz has a duet arrangement of Camptown Races

There are seventeen choices in our “Stephen Foster” category here and with the coupon code foster receive 10% off that category from July 3 – July 23.


Downloadable Product Information

Here at Melody’s we offer a wide array of music books and accessories.  In the music book category, you may have a choice between PDFs (or MP3s) and paper books. If there is a choice, you are required to click either the paper version or PDF version before you can put an item into your cart. There should be no shipping charge for download music.  If there are physical products in your cart at the same time, your total will reflect shipping for those physical items.

Products that are download only will have a narrow blue banner toward the top of the description.   Products that are only available as physical/paper will not have a choice for you to make in order to add to your cart, nor will they have the narrow blue banner signifying download only.

After you check out, you are directed back to your receipt where you can download your music. Also, you will receive an email thanking you for your order with links that will take you to your downloads. Please add to your approved e-mail list. If you do not receive an e-mail within a few minutes after you place your order, check your spam folder.

If you created an account with us, you can also find your downloads by going to “My Account” and clicking on the “Downloads” link.  We highly recommend that you create an account so that you can refer to your order history whenever you want.

Depending on your computer settings, when you click on your download link, 1 –  it may open automatically, 2 – it may go into your “downloads” folder, or 3 – your computer may prompt you to “save as”. 

If you have a problem with your downloads, please contact us at  for assistance. Because our website contains so many titles, on occasion we have overlooked uploading a PDF here or there.  When you notify us of this, we make the correction immediately.  Please note that downloads are not “returnable.”


Depending on your computer settings, when you click on your download link, 1 –  it may open automatically, 2 – it may go into your “downloads” folder, or 3 – your computer may prompt you to “save as”.  If you can’t find your PDF, look in your “downloads” folder first.  The title of the PDF may not match the title of the book, so you may want to change the title to what you will remember. After you have located your download, please either remember that it is in your “downloads” folder, or better yet, move it to another folder on your computer with a name that you will remember.

Your respect of the copyright laws will help support the musicians and arrangers who created this music, and will encourage more harp music to be produced in the future. Please do not make multiple copies to pass on to others. You can help keep downloadable harp music viable and available by encouraging your students, friends, and relatives to purchase their own copies. Thank you for your assistance in this endeavor.


On our website,, we offer a wide selection of paper and download music. We were always in a quandary about publications having several parts, or that include sound files. After realizing that we can place multiple files into one folder and “zip” it up, we are now able to offer book + cd options.

What we do: sound files and the PDF book are placed into a folder and zipped. The zipped folder is inserted into the product on the back end of the web site.

What you receive: after you purchase, you receive a zipped folder. This is a folder that literally has a picture of a zipper on it, indicating there is more than one document in the folder.

What you do with it: Generally by double clicking on the folder, it automatically opens up. The challenge lies in whether or not you have a program that unzips these folders. If you do, it is as simple as double clicking and the contents are revealed. Alternately, you can right click on the folder, which brings up choices, one of which is “open with” – you then click on your unzip program.

If you don’t have a program to unzip your files you’ll have a challenge! Recently I bought a small laptop for my zoom lessons. This laptop did not come with winzip, or any other kind of program that unzips these folders. The computer kept wanting me to purchase winzip for $29.  I found another program that does a great job, and it is free. 7-zip unzips all my compressed (zipped) folders! It is open source and you can find out more here:

We hope all this information is helpful to you.

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