The Friends We Love, 1868. Septimus Winner, 1827-1902. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: M1621.W
The Friends We Love was published in 1868 under Winner's pseudonym Alice Hawthorne. Winner's music store, established with one of his brothers shortly after they completed high school in Philadelphia, published this simple strophic choral ballad. The music store provided Winner, who was proficient on the violin and guitar, a place to teach music lessons and to market his own songs and methods books. In 1888, Oliver Ditson and Company purchased the entire catalog, and the Winner firm dissolved.
This ballad features a classical style accompaniment that begins and ends the piece. Its musical theme, though typically limited to one octave, is uncharacteristically complex both in rhythm and melodic shape. The choral refrain, also slightly more complicated than most of Winner's refrains, is written in a duet style.
Winner wrote many such ballads during the civil war years. They were perhaps even more popular than those of his contemporary, Stephen Foster. According to Charles Claghorn, author of The Mocking Bird: The Life and Diary of Its Author, Septimus Winner, President Abraham Lincoln's favorite song was Winner's Listen to the Mockingbird, another simple ballad. The appeal of these popular songs was not only their sentimentality but that they were readily understood, comfortable to sing, and easily appreciated by all classes of the musical public.