Root, Frederick Woodman



American singing-teacher, writer and lecturer on music; son of George F. Root; inherited musical talent from both sides of the family. He is a cousin of R. Huntington Woodman. His first lessons were received at an early age from his father; at fourteen he became a pupil of B. C. Blodgett, who was a graduate of the Leipsic Conservatory, and later of Dr. William Mason in New York City and of Robert Goldbeck in Chicago. He took vocal lessons at intervals from Bassini and studied organ with James Flint in New York, substituting for the latter. After his father's removal to Chicago he traveled with him and assisted him as pianist and in conducting. Some of his early efforts in composition were published by the firm of which his father was a member, and he also arranged music for publication, his work in this line for choruses and quartets meeting with considerable success. In 1863 he became organist of the Third Presbyterian Church, Chicago, and two years later of the Swedenborgian Church. In 1869 and 1870 he spent a year and a half in Europe, studying voice culture under Vannuccini at Florence, spending some time in Germany, and meeting Liszt and other famous musicians. On his return he settled in Chicago and devoted his main attention to vocal teaching, in which he has successfully specialized in class work; he also wrote for the Song Messenger, and was for some years its editor. Along with his teaching and lecturing has gone the work of essays and reviews on musical subjects. From 1879 to 1885 he conducted the Mendelssohn Choral Club. In 1889 he was elected examiner of the American College of Musicians, and has been in demand for work requiring executive ability and musical judgment combined, as in the Columbian Exposition of 1893, when he took an active part in the Congresses connected therewith. He is always in touch with popular likes and dislikes, and has in general adapted his own work accordingly. As the first professional musician admitted to the Chicago Literary Club, of which he was president during a recent season, his ability as a writer and lecturer receives recognition from professional men in other, yet kindred, fields; and, as a teacher, a list of wellknown pupils attests his care and ability in private instruction as well as in the broader class-work. Among these are Hope Glenn, who traveled as contralto with Christine Nilsson, Jessie Bartlett Davis, W. H. Clark, Charles W. Clark and Mackenzie Gordon; also F. W. Wodel and D. A. Clippinger.


The Technic and Art of Singing is his chief educational work among several published. He has composed a cantata, The Landing of the Pilgrims, performed in 1875 by the Beethoven Society, Chicago, under Carl Wolfsohn. Two of his earlier compositions stood the test of time, viz., the song, Beyond, and the duet, The Crimson Glow of Sunset Fades. Among several later songs may be noted a Hushaby Song, the words of which were written by Eugene Field for Mr. Root's pupil, Jessie Bartlett Davis. Several church-pieces, a burlesque operetta, glees and choruses complete the list of his compositions. Among the later and fairly representative works of Mr. Root are Methodical Sight-singing; Introductory Lessons in Voice Culture; The Polychrome Lessons in Voice Culture; and about half a dozen other works, comprising collections of exercises and studies for the voice.