GEORGE F. ROOT

George Frederick Root (1820-1895) was born at Sheffield, Massachusetts, and grew up in North Reading. He was named after composer George Frideric Handel and showed a love for music from a very early age. At 18, he moved to Boston to work for A. N. Johnson, earning room and board and piano lessons. He began to teach piano, sang in the Bowdoin Street choir, was a church organist, studied with Geo. Jas. Webb, and became an associate of Lowell Mason. He taught in many music conventions and normal schools. He went to New York City as organist and choir director of the Mercer Street Church and teacher at taught at Rutger’s Female Institute, Haines’ School for Young Ladies, Union Theological Seminary, and the New York Institute for the Blind. He met Fanny Crosby and together they eventually composed over fifty popular secular songs. He left his work in New York dedicating his career to teach music conventions and normal schools. He studied in Vienna, Paris, and London, eventually returning to teach in Boston with Lowell Mason, and later Bangor, Maine, where he was director of the Penobscot Musical Association. In 1860, he moved to Chicago and joined his brother E. T. Root and C. M. Cady in a music publishing company. The company was destroyed in the Chicago fire and he continued in his teaching throughout the Northern states. He died at his summer home in Bailey Island, Maine. He was one of the leading contributors to the development of 19th century American musical education. He also collected and edited volumes of choral music for singing schools, Sunday schools, church choirs and musical institutes. He was a prolific composer of cantatas, songs, Gospel songs, and choral pieces. He is recognized as one of the most significant composers of the Civil War era and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. He also wrote under the pseudonym George Wurzel (German for Root) to capitalize on the popularity of German composers during the 1850s. He wrote the first published Civil War song, “The First Gun is Fired,” two days after the bombardment of Fort Sumter. His other famous songs include “The Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching” whose tune was later used for “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and also for the later “God Save Ireland.”

All are mixed chorus unless noted; some contain divisi.

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High in the Sky

 
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Laughing Song

 
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Lillie

 
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Never Borrow Trouble

 
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On the Heather

 
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The Burlesque Band

 
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The Contest

 
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The Spider and the Fly

 
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