Sources for the Reevaluation of George Frederick Root's Career: The Autobiography & A Secular Cantata
Brown, Caitlin Elizabeth
Warfield, Patrick R
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Music scholarship has failed to fully assess the impact of the American composer George Frederick Root beyond his work in the church, classroom, and home. Most famous for composing "The Battle Cry of Freedom" and acting as music education pioneer Lowell Mason's associate, Root's other contributions to American music are often overlooked, particularly his body of secular cantatas for amateur choirs. This paper examines the commonly relayed biography of Root, Root's place in American historiography, and the advantages of examining his own autobiography. Finally, this paper presents a case study of The Haymakers and its possible place in future studies of Root. By better examining his career, we see that George Frederick Root was a typical nineteenth-century American man and that he was also a composer notable for his ability to serve the musical needs of his audience. Root pioneered large-scale choral works targeted at amateur performers with his secular cantatas and, consequently, served a wider swath of American performers and listeners.