I think one of the sadest developments in American musical history is the ostracizing of Stephen Foster's music because he is described as being "racist". Stephen Foster wrote prolifically about a period in history which was cruel to African Americans, (although, of course, he never used that expression), but he always described them as honest, God fearing, family oriented, loving people. Sure, some of his songs containg the "N" word, but he lived in a time when that word wasn't used as offensively as it is today.
Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan was a very morally upright person who would not knowingly offend anyone, but he used the "N" word twice in "Mikado", (which is occasionally described as offensive to the Japanese).
"Showboat" is often described as racist. When it was to be shown in Toronto to open a new concert venue over 20 years ago, there were huge outcries from protesters who obviously didn't understand the work at all. "Showboat" was a curageous statement AGAINST racism at a time when racist sentiments were quite acceptable, (late '20s). The very first word in "Showboat" is the "N" word, (I'm not spelling it out because I don't want to offend anybody and if there is automatic monitoring of ARSC posts, the presence of the word would cause the post to be rejected), and that word is used throughout "Showboat", but anyone who knows "Showboat" knows it's anything but racist. Paul Robeson was a very outspoken critic of anything racist and would not participate in anything which was offensive to anyone, yet he was proud to appear in "Showboat" and "Old Man River" almost became his theme song.
On Monday, April 27, 2015 10:56 AM, "Williams, Tim" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Though not as big or eccentric as the Bayernhof Museum, Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster Memorial Museum is much more accessible and quick to tour:
It's on Forbes Avenue (lots of buses go from Downtown up Forbes) in Oakland, at the foot of the University of Pittburgh's gigantic Cathedral of Learning and across the street from the Carnegie Museums and Library and the Dippy the Dinosaur statue.
See lots of you folks a month from now!
Timothy R. Williams
Music, Film & Audio Department
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Check out this list of Pittsburgh jazz musicians: