Arthur Foote (March 5, 1853-April 4, 1937) was born in Salem and lived at 44 Warren Street until the Salem fire of 1914 burned his childhood home down.
Foote was a church musician and influential music teacher and a member of a group of composers known as the Boston Six or the Second New England School. Together, the Six-John Knowles Paine, Horatio Parker, George Chadwick, Edward MacDowell, Amy Beach, and Arthur Foote-wrote the first substantial body of “American” classical music. Foote was especially known for chamber music, art songs, and music for choirs.
His family had deep roots in America and Arthur's father Caleb, was the editor and sole owner of the Salem Gazette. His family was friends with the likes of the Emersons, Peabodys, Hoars and Hawthornes.
Unfortunately his mother died when he was four. Arthur was raised by his sister, then a teenager.
After considering following his father into the newspaper world or a career in law, he discovered music as a boy. He went to Boston to study music both at the Conservatory and Harvard. He received the very first masters degree in music at Harvard in 1875. Foote largely supported himself by taking students in piano and organ. Though he returned occasionally to Salem, he remained in Boston beginning around 1876.
His music became well-known when embraced by famous singer John McCormack, who loved his songs "Go, Lovely Rose; I'm Wearing Away: and An Irish Folk Song. Several of his works premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra including the tone poem In the Mountains, Suite for Strings in D major,symphonic prologue Francesca da Rimini, Suite in D minor, and Suite for Strings in E major. Similarly, his most successful piano piece, "Five poems after Omar Khayyam" attained recognition through the famous band leader John Philip Sousa.
In addition to composing, Foote became the organist for the First Unitarian Church in Boston, a position that he held until 1910. He also served on the faculty of New England Conservatory from 1921-1937, teaching piano and piano pedagogy. In addition to his teaching, Foote wrote several texts on the subjects of harmony and piano technique.
Foote adored his older brother, Henry Wilder Foote, and like him was a Unitarian Christian. He helped edit his brother's Hymns of the Church Universal in 1890, and collaborated with his sister Mary, in Hymns for Church and Home in 1896.
Arthur married Kate Grant Knowlton in 1880. Their one daughter, Katherine Foote Raffy, was responsible for talking her father into writing his autobiography late in life. Foote died in Boston and is buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetery.
Vertical File in Salem Collection - Foote, Arthur
New England Conservatory Archives pages
"Arthur Foote: Salem's little known musical genius" Salem Evening News, May 27, 1976, p?
Arthur Foote, 1853-1937 Autobiography