A consummate craftsman of melody and lyric, Stephen Collins Foster (1826-64) invented (and inspired) popular music as we recognize it today. Because he also became the first songwriter to support himself by his craft in this country, Irving Berlin kept a framed picture of the composer on his office wall throughout his entire career. Foster’s melodies have now become such a part of the American tapestry that they are often mistaken for folk songs and used without attribution. What should have been an immensely successful life ended in tragedy at the age of 37, yet Foster’s legacy of more than 300 works paved the way for future popular songwriters in the United States. Minstrel songs account for only a small part of his repertoire, and the class will be supported by ample recordings including his instrumental music and Civil War ballads.