George Frederick Root on the background of his composition, "Where the home is," 1885. Performing Arts Reading Room, Library of Congress.
American composer and music educator George Frederick Root (1820-1895) was born in rural Massachusetts. An accomplished keyboardist, Root began his studies in 1841 with Lowell Mason, the founder of curricular music in American public schools, at Mason's Boston Academy of Music. Root moved to New York in the mid 1840s and introduced Mason's pedagogical methods at several institutions. In 1853, Root and celebrated hymnist William Bradbury helped Lowell Mason establish the New York Normal Institute which was dedicated to the training of music teachers and to music pedagogy. Root not only composed music specifically for his classes, but also, when the Civil War erupted, wrote more than 30 war songs, including the very popular "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!"
In 1858, Root's elder brother, Ebenezer Root, and C. M. Cady founded the music publishing firm of Root & Cady in Chicago. In 1860 Root became a partner and selected and edited works for publication. Passionate about music education, from 1863 to 1872 Root contributed songs and articles to Root & Cady's own periodical, The Song Messenger of the Northwest. The firm was nearly destroyed by the great Chicago fire of 1871, but Root continued to write and edit educational works and collections of religious songs.