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Selected Abstracts of Papers Read at the October 24-27, 1996 Conference
Johann Friedrich Peter (1746-1813): His World and Beyond
Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA

 

Alice M. Caldwell (Easton, Connecticut)
Tune Interludes in Moravian Chorale Performance

Among German-speaking Protestants in Pennsylvania and elsewhere the practice of performing chorales with improvised interludes between phrases flourished in the eighteenth century and continued well into the nineteenth. Despite contemporary writings that call for these interludes to be modest and strictly functional, examples left by practicing organists show us that some tune interludes, as written down by Pennsylvania organists circa 1830-1840, displayed an extremely virtuosic style that far exceeded the simple, restrained ideal.

I intend to investigate the hypothesis that these elaborate tune interludes took the place of solo organ literature among Moravian organists, providing a small outlet for self-expression in a tradition which limited organ playing to accompaniment and improvisation based on hymn-tunes. A link may exist between the tune interludes and contemporary piano literature which figured so prominently in the musical education of most, if not all, Moravians.

I am basing my research on two nineteenth-century manuscript collections of tune interludes belonging to the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem and a nineteenth-century tunebook with written-out interludes at the Archiv der BrŸder-UnitŠt in Herrnhut, Germany.

 

Karen L. Carter-Schwendler (Miami University of Ohio)
First-movement Sonata Form in the String Quintets of Johann Friedrich Peter

The string quintets of Johann Friedrich Peter have long been considered significant, in part because they represent some of the earliest chamber music written in America. In this paper, I will explore one particularly curious aspect of these works: the handling of first-movement sonata form. Should the quintets be, as has been suggested, interpreted as the writing of an immature and isolated composer capable of rendering only "embryonic" examples? After considering these works in the context in which they were written, it becomes possible to suggest an alternate reading: that they represent Peter’s attempt to reconcile his religious beliefs and dedication to sacred choral music with his knowledge and interest in the secular instrumental forms that he heard, copied, and played.

 

C. Daniel Crews (Moravian Archives, Winston-Salem)
Moravian Worship and the Why of Peter’s Music

This study places Peter’s musical compositions into the context for which they were written. It explores the Moravian concept of worship and discusses characteristic services such as the Singstunde and Lovefeast in which Peter’s music was used. It also examines the role of the church musician in the full range of Moravian worship and life in Peter’s day.

 

Pauline Fox (New York University)
A New Window onto a Widening Repertoire

Eight copybooks once belonging to persons associated with J. F. Peter offer an exciting overview of a network of musical activity around 1800. Studied from a socioethnological perspective, these music books, from the BMB and LMB Collections housed in the Bethlehem Archives, yield a surprising wealth of information regarding the breadth of repertoire circulated in Pennsylvania between 1793 and 1807, revealing in particular an increasing acceptance of secular material.

The owners of the booksÑBischoff, Fetter, Hartman, Horsfield, and Schropp, names respected in Bethlehem historyÑwere a storekeeper, a blacksmith and church organist, two schoolmasters, and a 12-year-old schoolgirl, as well as Peter himself, all of whom would have been acquainted as teacher, student, copyist, or colleague. Peter’s hand appears in five of the books.

Of the 310 entries, 74% are vocal (mostly solo songs), of which one-third are secular, including a few frivolous excerpts from the London theater. The remainder are dances, sonatas, and other keyboard pieces by European composers. Especially interesting are excerpts from Naumann’s opera Cora, from which several parodied choruses quickly became popular Moravian anthems, and from Rolle’s drama Der Tod Abels. Thirty of the entries, none of which appear in Peter’s own BMB book, are also in his sketchbook, the "Commonplace Book," and 50 entries reappear throughout the BMB and LMB collections. Within this period, 33 of the titles were published in Philadelphia or New York and transmitted into the Bethlehem repertoire.

From this evidence we learn that the Moravian clergy, instructors, and musicians not only preserved the familiar German sacred songs but also certainly embraced English contemporary and secular works as appropriate literature for education and devotion.

 

Nola Reed Knouse (Moravian Music Foundation)
Not to Glory, But to Serve: The Musical Gifts of Johann Friedrich Peter

Title from Hymn 496 in the Moravian Book of Worship Johann Friedrich Peter (1746-1813) is the best-known and most highly regarded of the early Moravian composers in America. He is known to have composed some 80 works over a span of some 40 years; approximately one-quarter of these have been published in this century.

Study of Peter’s published works, and of many of those which yet remain unpublished, reveals that his compositional talents and accomplishments are, if anything, even more impressive than previously known. His vocal works show his ability to manage both very small and very large forces, with musical ideas well matched both to the texts and to the size of work. His six string quintets show a painstaking attention to detail as well as graceful handling of form.

Peter’s musical gifts, however, extend far beyond those of a composer. As a copyist he was able to preserve numerous European works for use in America during his day and now; many of these are not known to exist elsewhere in the world. As music director and pastor his influence upon the musical life of Salem, in particular, was wide-ranging, and was felt for many years after his departure. As a teacher he was an active participant in the growth and development of musical knowledge, and the spread of repertoire, throughout the Moravian communities in America.

Peter’s musical gifts were a source of sorrow as well as of joy to him. He struggled with finding the proper use for his talents; he suffered frustration and depression when denied a satisfactory outlet. His purpose, however, remained firm: to use his abilities (musical and otherwise) in the service of his Lord through the Moravian Church, and thus the musical gifts he received became his gifts to his brothers and sisters in his own lifetime and far beyond.

 

Paul Larson (Moravian College)
J. F. Peter in the American Revolution

Peter was a member of the Choir of the Single Brethren in Bethlehem during the American Revolution. The Revolution had a profound effect on the Bethlehem Moravian Community, and Peter described this impact in very personal terms in his spiritual autobiography. This research places Peter’s description in the broader context of Peter - WHOA - role as a single brother in Bethlehem, the Bethlehem colonial community and its music, and that Moravian during the Revolution. The specific section of this "Lebenslauf" in which the Revolution was discussed will be viewed in light of Peter’s complete "Lebenslauf," his spiritual Journey.

This paper represents original research, drawing together a number of threads usually dealt with separately and adding to the subject J. F. Peter and his time.

 

Timothy W. Sharp (King College)
The Passion-Oratorio Maria und Johannes (J .A. P. Schulz) in Pennsylvania Moravian Life

The register for the Nazareth performances provides a clear picture of the popularity of the passion-oratorio Maria und Johannes by Johann Abraham Peter Schulz among Pennsylvania Moravians. A set of manuscript parts as well as a piano score of the oratorio exists in the Philharmonic Society of Bethlehem Collection, copied by Johann Friedrich Peter. The undated manuscript was probably the score from which the work was performed in concert in Nazareth.

The Nazareth register lists several dates on which Maria und Johannes was performed:

• March 18, 1803 Maria und Johannes by Schulz, the text by Ewald
• October 22, 1803 (private concert) Two arias from Maria und Johannes sung by Sister Tetter
• February 19, 1807 Maria und Johannes, 1-5
• February 26, 1807 Maria und Johannes, to the end
• March 21, 1811 Selections from Maria und Johannes, numbers 1, 2, 5, 9, 11, and 13

Based upon this evidence it can be established that Maria und Johannes was performed twice in its entirety in Nazareth: in March of 1803 and February of 1807, and it was performed in part on two other occasions. Furthermore, the source of the manuscripts being the Collegium Musicum Bethlehem Collection, additional congregations had access to the work. It seems reasonable that the oratorio could have been performed on other occasions for which no record exists.

The paper presents the music, theology, and history of this popular non-Moravian passion oratorio through documents, audio presentation, and sung examples, as well as a new performing edition of the complete passion oratorio.

 

Jewel Ann Smith (University of Cincinnati)
The Kummer Collection: Gender and Music in the Moravian Settlement of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

The Moravians have long been recognized for their dedicated lifestyle and advanced education. The Kummer family was highly influential in the Moravian towns of Eastern Pennsylvania in the first half of the nineteenth century. The father, Johann Gottlieb Kummer, was a distinguished educator and minister who held prominent positions in the schools of Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Lititz. His wife also held an important post as a teacher. Their four children, Caroline Louisa, Sophia Elizabeth, Sarah Agnes, and Charles Edward were involved in the educational profession as well.

The Bethlehem Girls School offered a progressive education that included advanced academic courses, music, and other artistic instruction. The Reverend Kummer was the school principal at two different time periods, and Mrs. Kummer, Caroline Louisa, and Sarah Agnes also taught there.

The Kummer collection is now housed in the Moravian Museum at Bethlehem and consists of materials related to the entire family, including music, fancy needle work, and a portion of their library. The music consists of 10-20 books of bound manuscripts, a vast majority for solo piano which testifies to the importance of the piano in the Moravian society. This collection serves as a major representation of the amalgamation of culture between the Germanic heritage of Bethlehem and the Bethlehem Girls School where such artistic work was fostered.

The Kummer collection provides many insights into the culture and education of the Moravians during this time, specifically women’s education as seen through the domestic sphere of the Kummers.

 

Peter Vogt (Kittery Point, Maine)
The Cultivation of Gemeinmusik: Moravian Music in the Context of Moravian Spirituality

From the very beginning of the settlement at Herrnhut, music played an important part in the spiritual life of the renewed Moravian Church. The distinct Moravian understanding of music, which placed music in the larger context of the spiritual life of the Moravian community, is conveyed by the German term Gemeinmusik. The notion of Gemeinmusik (congregational music), as opposed to Kirchenmusik (church music) and Weltmusik (secular music), denoted a type of musical performance conductive to, and expressive of, the communal experience of religious feeling centered on Christ. This theological understanding of music governed the practice of both singing and instrumental music in Moravian worship and in the life of the Moravian congregation, yet so far it has received only little attention in the scholarship of Moravian music.

An essential aspect of Moravian Spirituality, particularly pertinent to the understanding of Gemeinmusik, is the Moravian concept of Gemeine (congregation, fellowship, unity). It includes three distinct levels of meaning: (1) the whole, invisible church in heaven and on earth, (2) the Moravian Church as a world-wide unity, (3) the local Moravian congregation as a spiritual community. Illuminated by the notion of Gemeine, the term Gemeinmusik suggests some of the characteristics of Moravian music: Moravian music has to be understood as a part of the life of the Moravian congregation. It expresses the Moravian concept of the "Religion of the Heart" with its emphasis on immediate and emotional perception. It is reflective and formative of congregational harmony. It constitutes and signifies the communion between the earthly church and the heavenly church. It represents the art/worship-form of a community where the distinctions between secular and sacred, work and worship, performer and audience are overcome. Most likely it is owing to the complete integration of music into the spiritual life of the Moravian congregations, expressed in the term Gemeinmusik, that Moravian musicians reached the level of cultivation exemplified by the excellence of Moravian composers such as Johann Friedrich Peter.

 

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Updated: 7 September 2005

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