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Stephen Foster Camptown Races (for Saxophone Quartet)

And not a cartoon rooster in sight...








This is a fairly free treatment of one of the many famous melodies penned by Stephen Foster (1826 – 1864), dubbed by historians 'The Father of American Music'. Well, whatever your views on that particular point, he could certainly knock out a good tune. The lyrics of 'Camptown Races' are curious, in that they employ a sort of westernised African-American patois which sits rather uncomfortably in these days of (supposed) greater awareness of issues of race and ethnicity. The fact remains that, in the period when Foster was writing, 'minstrel' songs, i.e. those sung by African-American entertainers, were very popular. Here is not really the place to debate either the morality of, or the socio-economic reasons for, such practices. (I hope, by the tone of writing, that my own views on this issue are clear.)


In spite of the lyrics, it is still a great melody, and a true icon of American music. In view of this fact, the arrangement makes reference to two American composers active in the 20th Century. If you can figure out who they are, award yourself whatever reward you please, and, in the case of one, a bonus point if you can name the specific work alluded to. Or don't bother and just play the music...


Instrumentation:

Flute, Oboe, Clarinet in Bb, Horn in F, Bassoon

Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone Saxophones

Stephen Foster - Camptown Races mp3 sample
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