Stephen Foster has been widely hailed as the father of American Music. In the nineteenth century, he was one of the greatest of American composers of popular music – and many of his songs are still widely known and performed today. Foster wrote such classics as “Camptown Races”, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”, “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Oh! Susanna”.
Foster was only 37 when died, the result of his impoverishment: after a persistent fever, he collapsed, banging his head against a basin and gouging it quite badly. He was admitted to hospital but died three days later. God only knows how much more he would have written had he lived, how many American classics we were denied by his early demise.
The Sand Creek Massacre (which is also known variously as the Chivington Massacre, the Battle of Sand Creek and the Massacre of Cheyenne Indians) took place when 700 men of the Colorado Territory militia attacked and destroyed a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped in southeastern Colorado Territory near Sand Creek.
133 Cheyenne and Arapaho men, women, and children at Sand Creek were killed, while 24 of the attackers were killed (and 52 more wounded). The event intensified the bloodshed of the Indian Wars, as the Arapho, and particularly the Cheyenne, sought vengeance over the next few years.
Born in 1791 in Germany, Giacomo Meyerbeer was one of the foremost exponents of the musical and theatrical form known as ‘The Grand Opera’. In his day he was one of the most famed composers in all of Europe, but his reputation has suffered since his death – largely due to the attacks on his character and works by his former student Richard Wagner.
The motivation for these attacks is complex – Wagner was clearly jealous of his teacher’s success and the wealth that it brought him, but also despised Meyerbeer due to the older man’s Jewishness. Among other wild accusations, Wagner accused Meterbeer of bribing critics to ensure favourable reviews.