Sheet Music cover, “Ten Thousand Cattle Straying,” words and lyrics by Owen Wister, 1904.
flipFlip to Original cast of the stage version of The Virginian, New York, NY, circa 1904.
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Sheet music cover

Credit: Historical American Sheet Music, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University

Own Wister studied musical composition before earning his law degree from Harvard. In 1888, while in Wyoming, Wistar wrote the lyrics for a song that he set to the melody of an old French opera. When The Virginian was produced as a playin 1904, Wister composed music of his own for the lyrics, to serve as the theme song for the play. “Ten Thousand Cattle Straying” would go on to become a popular cowboy ballad.

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