Foster read a lot of Charles Dickens, whose novel Hard Times has impressed him very much. America was obliged to the progress at that time. The industrialization and the technological progress characterized this country. At this there was the danger that the individual becomes a sacrifice of the superficiality.

Stephen Foster has escaped the gray reality of the municipal life and the demands of his family, he managed to take emotions of his neighbors and to install these into his songs neatly at the same time, however. He managed to capture and to represent the atmosphere of the moment in the song Hard Times Come Again No More (1855) written at that time impressively timelessly so.


However, Foster also wrote palm court music, as e.g. Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming (1855), I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair (1854), Gentle Annie (1856) or Beautiful Dreamer (1864). The culture of the front parlor which exclusively was at the women’s disposal developed at that time. One had a unite big parlor or for financial reasons nothing at all before.

The popular culture of the 19th century falls on a fertile ground in the family. Charles Dickens wrote in his magazine Household Words: We live with pleasure in domestic atmosphere and cultivate our humane feelings to show that there is the human -- one only must look for it.

At Foster’s time there was a busy music life in Pittsburgh. Several musical directions were currently present at that time:

  • The German Lieder
  • The Irish melodies
  • The English Pleasure Garden songs
  • The Italian operas aria

These music directions were known to him and he knew how skillfully to connect all these elements with loans of Afro-American language elements in his own melodies.


The culture of the front parlor