Mr. Techneut here is the biography. Please read and correct any obvious errors (sometimes my naitive language gives me troubles ) or change anything you see fit to change. Also I attached a picture for you to use as well.
(I used multiple sources and compiled the basics of his life...the piano is only mentioned once....he was, afterall, a songwriter)
Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)
Stephen Collins Foster was born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania on the fourth of July, 1826 to the parents of William Foster and Eliza Tomlinson. Stephen Foster was the youngest of ten children (Stephen was actually the second youngest, but the tenth child died in infancy). Many consider him as the “father of American music.”
When he was a child, Foster received off and on private tutoring and some years at a private academy in Pittsburgh. Though he disliked school Foster became a learned person. Foster was not a child prodigy when it came to composing music, but nevertheless he was able to compose for voice, the flute, the piano, and several other common instruments. Foster had received music teaching from Henry Kleber; however Foster had already began to teach himself and it was said that Foster “accidentally” started to play the flageolet in a Pittsburgh music store, that within a few minutes he had so mastered it that he was able to play “Hail Columbia” in perfect tempo and accent.
His very first composition was entitled “Tioga Waltz” (1839, but published posthumously in 1896) and was composed for the flute. He was only fifteen years old when he played it for the commencement of the Athens Academy (Tioga, Pennsylvania). His first published work was composed to the poetry of George P. Morris, it was entitled “Open Thy Lattice Love” (1844). During his youth, he and few friends (his closest friend being Charles Shiras) sat by the piano and sung minstrels and few of their own compositions. Undoubtedly his most famous work, “Oh Susanna!” (1848) and “Old Uncle Ned” (1848) were composed for this group.
At twenty years old, Stephen Foster worked for Dunning’s (his brother) steamship firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. While working as a bookkeeper, Foster sold a dozen, or so, works to local publishers. In 1849 Foster published “Foster's Ethiopian Melodies”, which included "Nelly Was a Lady", made famous by the Christy Minstrels. In 1850, Foster moved back to Philadelphia where he married twenty-year-old Jane Denny MacDowell (and their daughter was born a year later). After moving back, Stephen had finally decided to become a full-time songwriter. It was during this point in his life, when Foster composed most of his greatest works, works including: "Camptown Races" (1850), "Nelly Bly" (1850), "Old Folks at Home" (also known as "Swanee River," 1851), "My Old Kentucky Home" (1853), "Old Dog Tray" (1853), "Hard Times Come Again No More" (1854) and "Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair" (1854, dedicated to his wife).
Throughout his life he was inspired by “Eithopian” and minstrel songs, yet he integrated musical characteristics from various cultures like Irish melodies, German songs, and Italian operas. Even more impressive was his respect for all races and cultures. During a time of slavery Stephen sought to humanize and build respect by demanding the performers of his works to show empathy for the slaves and to transmit this feeling of respect to the audience.
In 1853, Foster held exclusive contracts with the music publisher “Firth, Pond and Company”. However, in a time before copyright laws his works were purchased for next to nothing (supposedly he was paid only one-hundred dollars for “Oh Susanna”). His relationship with his wife declined and in 1854 the couple went their separate ways. Deeply stricken with the death of his parents, 1856, and a decline in his health; Foster’s later compositions fell in popularity to his earlier works (only the song “Beautiful Dreamer” (1864) ranks amongst his earlier works).
Bedridden due to an illness Foster was too sick to move. In an attempt to call for a chambermaid, Foster sustained a head injury when he collapsed onto a washtub. It took three hours to get him to a doctor; three days later, on January 13th 1864, at the age of 37, Stephen foster succumbed to his injuries. Although young and penniless, Stephen Collins Foster is considered an American legend and left behind an American songwriting legacy which is unsurpassed. Even today children learn the lyrics to “Oh Susanna” , also at the annual Kentucky Horse Derby, his work “My Old Kentucky Home” is sung with band accompaniment.
I hope this is good enough. I spent three hours reading sources, compiling and typing. (Let's hope I don't record anyone famous who is not on the list and be responsible for the biography.....