Fanny Crosby

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Fanny Crosby : biography

March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915

Cantatas

Between 1852 and 1854 Crosby wrote the librettos of three cantatas for Root. Their first cantata was The Flower Queen; The Coronation of the Rose, (1852),Carder (2008), p. 35). often described as "the first secular cantata written by an American",For example, see Richard F. Selcer, ed., Civil War America, 1850 to 1875, rev. ed. (Infobase Publishing, 2006):352. However, see Jacklin Bolton Stopp, "James C. Johnson and the American Secular Cantata", American Music 28:2 (Summer 2010):228–250, which credits James C. Johnson, who wrote "four innovative and successful cantatas" prior to those of Root and Crosby. See an opera "in all but name","Wm. Hall & Son’s Column", New-York Musical Review: A Journal of Sacred and Secular Music 5:9 (April 27, 1854):144. described as a "popular operetta","Mason Brothers’ Column", New-York Musical Review: A Journal of Sacred and Secular Music 5:10 (May 11, 1854):159. which "illustrated nineteenth-century American romanticism".Carder (2008), p. 36. In her 1906 autobiography Crosby explained the theme of this cantata: the story of which is as follows: an old man becoming tired of the world, decides to become a hermit; but, as he is about to retire to his lonely hut, he hears a chorus singing, "Who shall be queen of the flowers?" His interest is at once aroused; and on the following day he is asked to act as judge in a contest where each flower urges her claims to be queen of all the others. At length the hermit chooses the rose for her loveliness; and in turn she exhorts him to return to the world and to his duty.Crosby (1906), p. 28.

Written as "a work for teenage girls (scored for first and second soprano and alto)",Jacklin Bolton Stopp, "James C. Johnson and the American Secular Cantata", American Music 28:2 (Summer 2010):228. The Flower Queen was performed first on March 11, 1853 by the young ladies of Jacob Abbott’s Springer Institute,Deane L. Root, American Popular Stage Music, 1860–1880 (UMI Research Press, 1977):13. and almost immediately repeated by Root’s students at the Rutgers Female Institute, and was praised by R. Storrs Willis.Vera Brodsky Lawrence and George Templeton Strong, Strong on Music: Reverberations, 1850–1856 (University of Chicago Press, 1995):433. It was subsequently performed an estimated 1,000 times throughout the United States in the first four years after its publication.Blumhofer (2005), pp. 149–150. The success of The Flower Queen and subsequent cantatas, brought great acclaim and fortune to Root, with little of either for Crosby.Blumhofer (2005), p. 150.

The second Root-Crosby cantata was Daniel, or the Captivity and Restoration, based on the Old Testament story of Daniel, that was composed in 1853 for Root’s choir at the Mercer Street Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.Carder (2008), p. 53.Jonathan Greenleaf, A History of the Churches, of All Denominations, in the City of New York, from the First Settlement to the Year 1846 (E. French, 1846):194. This cantata comprised 35 songs, with music composed with William Batchelder Bradbury, and words by Union Theological Seminary student Chauncey Marvin Cady and Crosby;For lyrics, see "DANIEL: or the Captivity and Restoration. A Sacred Cantata in Three Parts", Words selected and prepared by C[hauncy]. M[arvin]. Cady, Esq., [1824–1889], assisted by Miss F[rances]. J[ane]. Crosby. [Mrs. Van Alstyne] [1820–1915]. Music composed by Geo[rge]. F[rederick]. Root [1820–1895] and W[illiam]. B[atchelder]. Bradbury [1816–1868], http://www.pdmusic.org/root-gf/gfr53-c02.txt Some of its principal choruses were first performed on July 15, 1853 by the students at Root’s New-York Normal Institute.Vera Brodsky Lawrence and George Templeton Strong, Strong on Music: Reverberations, 1850–1856 (University of Chicago Press, 1995):432.

In 1854 Root and Crosby collaborated to compose The Pilgrim Fathers, with Lowell Mason assisting with the music. Described as an "antebellum landmark" in dramatic cantatas,Richard F. Selcer, ed., Civil War America, 1850 to 1875, rev. ed. (Infobase Publishing, 2006):352. according to Blumhofer it "featured the contemporary evangelical reading of American history".Blumhofer (2005), p. 149. Crosby wrote the libretto for a cantata entitled, The Excursion,Probably found in Theodore E. Perkins, ed., The Mount Zion Collection of Sacred and Secular Music (New York, NY: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1869). See "Musical", American Literary Gazette and Publishers’ Circular 13-14 (September 15, 1869):302. with Baptist music professor Theodore Edson Perkins, one of the founders of New York music publishing house Brown & Perkins,David W. Music and Paul Akers Richardson, "I Will Sing the Wondrous Story": A History of Baptist Hymnody in North America (Mercer University Press, 2008):325. writing the music.Hall (1914), p. 69 In 1886 Crosby and William Howard Doane wrote Santa Claus’ Home; or, The Christmas Excursion, a Christmas cantata, published by Biglow & Main.Fanny Crosby and William Howard Doane, Santa Claus’ Home; or, The Christmas Excursion: A Christmas Cantata for the Sunday School and Choir (Biglow & Main, 1886).