The Biographical Cyclopedia

of American Women


Volume I

Compiled under the supervision of Mabel Ward Cameron

New York

The Halvord Publishing Company, Inc. 1924

©1924 By the Halvord Publishing Company, Inc.


Foster, Fay

The Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women, Vol.1, p.182

FOSTER, FAY, composer, was born at Leavenworth, Kansas, daughter of James Hervey and Alice Allen (Monroe) Foster. Through her paternal grandmother, she is a direct descendant of Pocahontas; through her paternal grandfather, of the American composer, Stephen Foster; and through her maternal grandfather, of President James Monroe.

The Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women, Vol.1, p.182


Her musical career may be said to have begun almost in her infancy, for as early as her third year, she was already improvising melodies on the piano, although she had no instruction whatever. At the age of seven, she received her first systematic piano lessons, and, although her general education was not neglected, had so far advanced in the first year as to be thoroughly grounded in harmony and counterpoint. At the age of twelve she had become the conductor of a quartette choir, and played the organ, and at sixteen she completed the course at the Leavenworth High School.  The Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women, Vol.1, p.182


At the age of seventeen she toured the country, as assistant pianist and accompanist, with the William H. Sherwood Concert Company; in the meantime for two years, studying vocal music and piano under William Sherwood at the Sherwood Conservatory of Music, Chicago, and harmony and theory with Frederick Grant Gleason. At nineteen, she was appointed a director of a musical conservatory at Anarga, Illinois. Two years later she went abroad, and for the next twelve years studied, first as a scholarship piano pupil, under Moritz Rosenthal at Vienna, Austria, later at the Munich Conservatory, under Heinrich Schwartz and Sophie Menter. She spent considerable time also in Leipzig, where she was taught technique by Theodore Wiehmeyer, virtuoso under Alfred Reisenauer, and counterpoint, theory and composition under Professor Jadassohn. Later she studied in Cologne, and received voice training in Berlin under Siga Garso and Alexander Heinemann. The next two years she spent in Italy, and was about to make her début in Italian opera, when she fell ill from over work and was forced to rest her voice for two years.  The Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women, Vol.1, p.182


During this period of recuperation, she won, in international competition the prize offered by the German paper, Die Wocke, of Berlin, for the best new waltz composition. 'Over 4,200 persons competed, and Miss Foster's waltz, The Prairie Flower, received the second prize of 2,000 marks. The waltz was played at a ball in Berlin, over which the German Crown Prince presided, the orchestra being led by Johann Strauss.

The Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women, Vol.1, p.183 [p.183]


Because of the illness of her father, Miss Foster was called back to America in 1911, and settled in New York. In addition to her numerous musical compositions, she has won remarkable success as a voice developer and coach, tutoring numerous opera and concert singers. Miss Foster has written over fifty songs and orchestral and piano pieces, and several operettas, especially for school or club use, and was ably assisted by her mother, who wrote the librettos and lyrics.  The Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women, Vol.1, p.183


Miss Foster was active in War Work, being head of the Foster Unit, which entertained the soldiers at the various camps. She virtually emptied her large library, to send books abroad, and at the holiday seasons always forwarded heavy consignments of delicacies to the "Boys." But her greatest contribution was the stirring song, highly eulogized by Theodore Roosevelt and General Pershing, The Americans Come; the great rallying song of the last Liberty Loan Drive. When John McCormack entertained the heroes of the Château-Thierry, this song was the favorite, and he rendered it with the greatest feeling.

The Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women, Vol.1, p.183


Miss Foster is a member of the Musicians' Club of New York, the Authors' League of America and the American Red Cross. In addition to receiving the second prize for her waltz in Berlin, she has won various other honors for her skill in composition, among which may be mentioned: the first prize in contest by Theodore Presser Company of Philadelphia; for the American Song Competition, in New York, in 1914; for the Étude Piano Contest, Étude de Concert, 1916; and for the Federation of Women's Clubs, Women's Chorus, 1917. Her choruses have been produced by the St. Cecilia Club; Mozart Club (Carl Hahn, Conductor); Tuesday Morning Club, Philadelphia; Lockport Festival Chorus, and the Rubinstein Club.  The Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women, Vol.1, p.183


Among the singers who have rendered Miss Foster's songs are, Eleanora de Cisneros, Sophie Breuslau, Louis Graycure, Mary Jordan, Rafael Diaz, Vera Curtis and Paul Althouse. Her songs include: Sleep Song; On Dress Parade; The Daughter; Maria Mia; The White Blossoms of the Bog; Sing a Song of Roses; Winter; The Call of the Trail; Springtide of Love; Spinning Wheel Song; If I Were King of Ireland; One Golden Day; Song of the Thistle Drift; Love in Absence; A Nipponese Sword Song; The Red Heart; My Menagerie; Your Kiss At Last; Were I Yon Star; The Maiden; Dusk in June; A Strange Looking Glass; Riverside Drive vs. Avenue A; I'm Glad I Went Over to France; Sunset in a Japanese Garden; The King; In the Carpenter's Shop; Petite Valse de Ballet. nese Garden; The King; In the Carpenter's Shop; Petite Valse de Ballet.

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