Septimus Winner was born May 11, 1827, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a boy, he studied the violin and gained such musical proficiency that, by the age of 20, he was running his own music shop and giving lessons on a variety of instruments. By the end of his life, he had written more than 200 music instruction books for 23 separate instruments; his book of banjo instruction is still usable today.
Winner was apparently more successful as an instructor than as a composer, although his song output equaled his book output. Writing as "Alice Hawthorne," Winner had only a few "hits," among them "What Is Home Without a Mother?" in 1854 and the still-popular "Listen to the Mockingbird." "Mockingbird," for which Winner received the princely sum of $5.00, has sold at least 25 million copies since its publication in 1855.
Winner's Wartime compositions were not, for the most part, memorable, although one calling for the return to command of sacked General George B. McClellan did cause something of a stir. The Lincoln administration considered the lyrics of "Give Us Back Our Old Commander: Little Mac, the People's Pride" subversive, and its composer spent some time in jail for his troubles. The song made a brief appearance some years later, with altered lyrics, during General Ulysses S. Grant's successful run for the presidency.
Winner's only other notable Wartime composition had nothing to do with the War;"Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone" was set to the tune of the German Folk song "Lauterbach". Following the conclusion of the War, Winner penned such compositions as,"Ten Little Injuns," "Abraham's Daughter," and "Whispering Hope."
Winner died November 22, 1902, at the age of 75.
For a more comprehensive look at the music of Septimus Winner, visit Benjamin Tubb's outstanding Web site at http://pdmusic.org.
This page is http://civilwarpoetry.org/authors/winner.html
Last modified 16-April-2001