Henry Clay Work


Henry Clay Work

Henry Clay Work (October 1, 1832 - June 8, 1884) was an American composer and songwriter. Very little is known about him. He was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of a prominent opponent of slavery, and he too was also an active abolitionist and Union supporter. His home became a stop on the Underground Railroad, and was instrumental in the escape of several thousand slaves seeking freedom, for which his father was imprisoned.

Henry was self taught in music. By the time he was 23, he was working as a printer in Chicago. He specialised in setting musical type. It was said that he composed in his head as he worked, without the assistance of a piano, using the noises of the machinery as inspiration. He was also compiling lyrics. His first published song was "We Are Coming, Sister Mary", which eventually became a staple in Christy's Minstrels shows.

He produced much of his best material during the Civil War years. In 1862 he published "Kingdom Coming" using his own lyric based upon snippets of Negro speech which he had heard. This use of dialect (Irish too was a favourite) tended to limit the appeal of Work's works and hastened their decline into obscurity. However, "Kingdom Coming" appeared in the Jerome Kern show "Good Morning Dearie" on Broadway in 1921, and it was heard in the background in the 1944 Judy Garland picture "Meet Me in St Louis". 1862 saw "Grafted Into the Army", followed in 1863 by "Babylon is Fallen", "The Song of a Thousand Years" and "God Save the Nation". The 1864 effort "Wake Nicodemus" was popular in minstrel shows. In 1865 he wrote his greatest hit, inspired by Sherman's march to the sea, "Marching Through Georgia". This song was immensely popular, the million sheet-music sales being virtually unprecedented. It is a marching song almost sans pareil, having been pressed into service regularly from that day to this, not least by Princeton University as a football 'Fight' song. Timothy Shay Arthur's play "Ten Nights in a Barroom", had the song "Come Home, Father", a dirgesome ditty bemoaning the demon drink which is rather too mawkish for modern tastes, but which has always gone down well at Temperance Meetings.

Settling into a groove with his sentimental balladry, Work had significant post-Civil War success with the likes of "The Lost Letter" and "The Ship That Never Returned". A massive hit was "My Grandfather's Clock", published in 1876, which was introduced by Sam Lucas in Hartford, and went on to secure more than a million sales of the sheet music.

Henry Clay Work died in Hartford, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. He was a distant cousin to Frances Work who was the great-grandmother of Diana, Princess of Wales.

ongs

Among the best-known of Henry Clay Work's 75 compositions are:
*"Come Home, Father" (1864)
*"Kingdom Coming" (C. 1863)
*"Marching Through Georgia" (1865)
*"The Ship That Never Returned" (1868)
*"My Grandfather's Clock" (1876)

External links

*Shof|id=198|name=Henry Clay Work
* [http://www.pdmusic.org/work.html PD Music - photo and biography with detailed table of songs]
* [http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/rpo/display/poet364.html Representative Poetry On-line - "Selected Poetry of Henry Clay Work"]
* [http://www.hierarchypedia.com/~hierarch/wiki/index.php/Henry_Clay_Work His page on HierarchyPedia]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Henry Clay Work — (1er octobre 1832 8 juin 1884) était un compositeur et auteur de chansons américain. Sa biographie est relativement obscure. Il est né à Middletown (Connecticut) et était le fils d un opposant notable à l esclavage, qui fit de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Henry Clay Frick — Born December 19, 1849(1849 12 19) West Overton, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, U.S …   Wikipedia

  • Henry Clay Folger — (1857 1930) was president and later chairman of Standard Oil of New York, a collector of Shakespeareana, and founder of the Folger Shakespeare Library.Early lifeHenry Clay Folger was born in New York City on June 18, 1857 to Henry C. Folger of… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry Clay Smith — was born February 7, 1874 in Santa Clara, California, one of 12 children born to German immigrants Charles Christian Smith (1838 1927) and Maria Pfieffer (1845 1916). Charles, a co founder, with his brother of the town of Evergreen, California,… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry Clay — For other people named Henry Clay, see Henry Clay (disambiguation). Henry Clay Henry Clay 1818 portrait by Matthew Harris Jouett 8th, 10th and 13th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives …   Wikipedia

  • Henry Clay's Law Office — Infobox nrhp | name =Henry Clay s Law Office nrhp type =nrhp caption = Henry Clay s Law Office location= Lexington, Kentucky lat degrees = 38 lat minutes = 2 lat seconds = 58.45 lat direction = N long degrees = 84 long minutes = 29 long seconds …   Wikipedia

  • Henry Clay High School — For other uses of the acronym HCHS, see HCHS (disambiguation). Infobox high school name = Henry Clay High School colors = Blue; Gold established = 1928 nickname = Blue Devils imagesize = 134px type = Public campus = Suburban streetaddress = 2100… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry Clay Yerger — Professor Henry Clay Yerger was born December 4 1860 near Spring Hill, Arkansas, the son of Anthony and Sally Yerger. He married Miss Ella J. Green and to this union eight children were born, five boys and three girls. He came to Hope in 1886 and …   Wikipedia

  • Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate — Infobox nrhp | name =Ashland nrhp type = nhl caption = A view of the front of the house location= 120 Sycamore Road Lexington, Kentucky locmapin = Kentucky area = built =1811 architect= Latrobe,Benjamin H.; Lewinski,Thomas architecture=… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry H. Goddard — Henry Herbert Goddard (August 14 1866 ndash; June 18 1957) was a prominent American psychologist and eugenicist in the early 20th century. He is known especially for his 1912 work , which he himself came to regard as deeply flawed, and for being… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.