Violin Solo
Violin + ...
For beginners
Composers

Oh! Susanna

Composer: Foster Stephen

Instruments: Voice Mixed chorus Piano

Tags: Song

#Arrangements

Download free scores:

Complete Score PDF 0 MB

Arrangements:

Other

Voice + Mixed chorus (Knuth, Jürgen) Guitar (Ludenhoff, Martin)
Wikipedia
"Oh! Susanna" is a folk song by Stephen Foster (1826–1864), first published in 1848. It is among the most popular American songs ever written. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
In 1846, Stephen Foster moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and became a bookkeeper with his brother's steamship company. While in Cincinnati, Foster wrote "Oh! Susanna", possibly for his men's social club. The song was first performed by a local quintet at a concert in Andrews' Eagle Ice Cream Saloon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 1847. It was first published by W. C. Peters & Co. in Cincinnati in 1848. Blackface minstrel troupes performed the work, and, as was common at the time, many registered the song for copyright under their own names. As a result, it was copyrighted and published at least twenty-one times from February 25, 1848, through February 14, 1851. Foster earned just $100 ($2,774 in 2016 dollars) for the song, but its popularity led the publishing firm Firth, Pond & Company to offer him a royalty rate of two cents per copy of sheet music sold, convincing him to become the first fully professional songwriter in the United States.
The name Susanna may refer to Foster's deceased sister Charlotte, whose middle name was Susannah.
The song blends together a variety of musical traditions. The opening line refers to "a banjo on my knee", but the song takes its beat from the polka, which had just reached the U.S. from Europe. Writer and musician Glenn Weiser suggests that the song incorporates elements of two previous compositions, both published in 1846: "Mary Blane", by Billy Whitlock, and "Rose of Alabama", by Silas S. Steele. He points out that the melody of the verse of "Oh! Susanna" resembles that of "Mary Blane", and the opening of the chorus of "Oh! Susanna" is almost identical to that of "Rose of Alabama". Moreover, the story lines of both "Oh! Susanna" and "The Rose of Alabama" involve a lover going from one Deep Southern state to another with his banjo in search of his sweetheart, which suggests that Foster got the inspiration for his lyrics from Steele's song.
The first two phrases of the melody are based on the major pentatonic scale. Play (help·info)
The lyrics are largely nonsense, as characterized by lines such as "It rain'd all night the day I left, The weather it was dry, The sun so hot I froze to death..." (first verse) and "I shut my eyes to hold my breath..." (second verse). It is one of the few songs by Foster that use the word "nigger" (others are "Old Uncle Ned" and "Oh! Lemuel", both also among Foster's early works), which appears in the second verse ("De lectric fluid magnified, And killed five hundred nigger.").
The song is not only one of Stephen Foster's best-known songs, but also one of the best-known American songs. No American song had sold more than 5,000 copies before; "Oh! Susanna" sold over 100,000. After its publication, it quickly became known as an "unofficial theme of the Forty-Niners", with new lyrics about traveling to California with a "washpan on my knee". A traditional Pennsylvania Dutch version uses Foster's melody but replaces the lyrics entirely.
The unusual spellings – and missing punctuation (e.g., "dont") – are in the published version.
The double-underscores ("__") were left in – taken from the notation, and from below the notation – for the reader to interpret.
The paragraph breaks of verses one and two as shown here were added for convenience, and are based on the capitalization in the published music (which within notation has no paragraphs), the stanzas of which appear inconsistent from verse one to the following two verses, as was the capitalization in the published music. Verse three's paragraph breaks are as published below the notation.
SUSANNA. as sung by Mr. Tichnor of the Sable Harmonists. Written and Composed by S.C.Foster. [Before the grand staff:] Animato. [V1] I come from Alabama with my Banjo on my knee__ I'se gwine to Lou'siana My true lub for to see. It rain'd all night de day I left, De wedder it was dry; The sun so hot I froze to def__ Susanna, dont you cry. [CHORUS:] Oh! Susanna, do not cry for me; I come from Alabama, Wid my Banjo on my knee. [V2] I jump'd aboard the telegraph and trabbled down de ribber, De lectrick fluid magnified, and kill'd five hundred Nigga. De bulgine bust and de hoss ran off, I really thought I'd die; I shut my eyes to hold my bref__ Susanna dont you cry. [CHORUS] [V3] I had a dream de udder night, when ebry ting was still; I thought I saw Susanna dear, a coming down de hill, De buckweat cake was in her mouf, de tear was in her eye, I says, I'se coming from de souf,__ Susanna dont you cry. [CHORUS]
(Lyrics themselves:) 1. I come from Alabama with my Banjo on my knee— I'm goin' to Louisiana my true love for to see. It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry; The sun so hot I froze to death—Susanna, don't you cry. (Chorus:) Oh! Susanna, do not cry for me; I come from Alabama, with my Banjo on my knee. 2. I jumped aboard the telegraph and traveled down the river, Electric fluid magnified, and killed five hundred nigger. The bullgine bust, the horse ran off, I really thought I'd die; I shut my eyes to hold my breath—Susanna, don't you cry. Chorus (This verse is rarely sung in its original form today; to avoid the word "nigger" is often replaced with "chigger".) 3. I had a dream the other night, when everything was still; I thought I saw Susanna dear, a comin' down the hill. The buckwheat cake was in her mouth, a tear was in her eye, I says, "I've coming from the South"-Susanna, don't you cry. Chorus (An unauthorized fourth verse was added:) 4. I soon will be in New Orleans, and then I'll look all around, And when I find Susanna, I'll fall upon the ground. But if I do not find her, this darkie'll surely die, And when I'm dead and buried—Susanna, don't you cry.
Oh, I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee! Going to Louisiana, my true love for to see Oh Susanna! Oh don't you cry for me! For I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry The sun so hot I froze to death, Susanna don't you cry Oh Susanna! Oh don't you cry for me! For I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee!
I had a dream the other night, when everything was still I thought I saw Susanna dear a-comin' down the hill A red red rose was in her hand, a tear was in her eye I said I come from dixieland, Susanna don't you cry! I soon will be in New Orleans, and then I'll look around, And when I find Susanna, I'll fall upon the ground. But if I do not find her, then surely I will die, And when I'm dead and buried —Susanna, don't you cry.
I jumped aboard [a] telegraph and traveled down the [tracks], Electric fluid magnified, and [shocked a] hundred [Jacks]. The [engine] bust, the horse ran off, I really thought I'd die; I shut my eyes to hold my breath —Susanna, don't you cry.
This version was sung exclusively in the 1942 Merrie Melodies short, "The Wacky Wabbit" by Elmer Fudd:
Oh! Susanna, don't you cry for me! I'm gonna get me wots of gold out on the Wone Pwaiwie. Gold is where you find it and when I find that stuff, I'll dig and dig and dig and dig. I'll never get enough. I twamp the pwaiwies and the pwains. I twudge each weawy mile. I'll twamp and twudge and twudge and twamp Until I make my pile. Oh! Susanna, don't you cwy for me! I'm gonna dig up lots of gold, V for victowy. I'm a wagged, wugged wover of the wild unwuwy West. Of all the things I haven't got, I wike gold the best. Oh, it wained all night of the day I weft, the weather was so dwy; It was so warm I fwoze to death—Susanna, don't you cwy. Oh! Susanna, don't you cwy for me! I'm gonna get me wots of gold, V for victowy!
One of the earliest recordings, using the original "killed five hundred Nigger" lyrics, was released by Harry C. Browne in 1916 (Columbia COL A-2218). Browne also released other openly racist songs that same year, including Nigger Love a Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!.
The song is sung by a band in Wilson (1944) during the 1912 Democratic National Convention.
A 1955 novelty recording of the song by The Singing Dogs reached #22 on the US Billboard Pop Singles chart.
A humorous recording of "Oh! Susanna" was the last track on the second album by The Byrds, Turn! Turn! Turn!, in 1965.
Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album 101 Gang Songs (1961).
James Taylor also included a version of the song on his second album, Sweet Baby James, in 1970.
In 1963, The Big 3 recorded Tim Rose's composition "The Banjo Song", which sets Foster's lyrics to a completely new melody. Rose's melody was then used for Shocking Blue's 1969 hit Venus (Shocking Blue song). Neil Young and Crazy Horse covered Rose's version on their 2012 album Americana.
It was performed by the North Korean Chongbong Band in 2016.
The Country Bears performed the song in Mickey's Fun Songs: Campout at Walt Disney World.