Schroeder and Schröter — invisible pianists

The other day I was working on records in the Salem Manuscript Books Collection. It had the tempo marking “Allegro,” and the only other marking was “III Concerto.” It continues for 7 pages with some sections marked “Solo” (which usually displayed faster passages in the right hand with few to no notes in the left hand) interspersed with sections marked “Tutti” which sometimes displayed repeated eighth notes in left hand or unison passages with the right.

My curiosity piqued, I wondered if I would be able to identify the work and the composer. I searched RISM and found over a dozen records for a keyboard concerto by Johann Samuel Schröter.

Now, maybe it’s just because it’s the Christmas season, and music from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has been heard recently. Maybe it’s because someone recently quipped at choir practice that Beethoven’s birthday was earlier that week, but I couldn’t help but think of Schroeder from the Peanuts comic strip when I saw Schröter’s name.

I googled Schultz and Peanuts (so I’d get cartoon characters and not legumes), and found the Wikipedia entry for Peanuts. I was disappointed that the picture of the Peanuts gang didn’t include Schroeder! What? I mean, sure he’s not one of the main characters with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and Lucy; but certainly he should be pictured if Sally, Franklin, and Peppermint Patty are.

I started to think how Schröter and Schroeder were alike — both musicians lost in the background where louder characters elbowed their way to the front of the stage. I decided I had to find out more about Johann Samuel Schröter. Well, it’s a funny when you start pulling loose strings – you find all sorts of interesting connections – in fact, an entire web.

Johann Samuel Schröter was the son of Johann Friedrich Schröter, an oboist in the regiment of Count Brühl. If you’ve ever been to Dresden, that name might ring a bell. The Brühl Terrace (Brühlsche Terrasse) is an elevated walkway that stretches along several large buildings in the Old Town area of Dresden overlooking the Elbe River. It’s known as the “Balcony of Europe.”

In the service of Count Brühl (who was an official serving Elector Frederick August II) the Schröter family moved to Warsaw (around 1755) and later to Leipzig (around 1763). It was in Leipzig that the Schröter children studied with Johann Adam Hiller, who was the first conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and also served as Thomaskantor, the post earlier served by Johann Sebastian Bach. Hiller was also the director of the Abel Seyler theatrical company which hired Corona Schröter (Johann Samuel Schröter’s sister). Corona became known as a singer and as a composer. She moved to Weimar and became friends and collaborators with Goethe and Schiller. I recognized the name Corona Schröter from the research I did about Ernst Wilhelm Wolf and his Easter Cantata. Corona was living in Weimar at the time. Perhaps she even performed in the premiere at the town church which is now known as the Herderkirche for Johann Gottfried Herder, the Weimar court pastor and librettist of Wolf’s Easter Cantata.

But back to Johann Samuel Schröter.  The Schröter family traveled to England from 1771 to 1772, where Count Brühl was serving as ambassador of Saxony. During this time they performed in the Bach-Abel concerts. This was John Christian Bach (son of J.S. Bach, known as the English Bach) who collaborated for many years with Karl Friedrich Abel. Karl was born in Cöthen where his father was a viola da gamba and cello player in the orchestra before becoming the director of the orchestra in 1723 when the previous director – Johann Sebastian Bach – left to take the job of Thomaskantor in Leipzig. When Karl grew up he went to Leipzig to study with J.S. Bach.

When the Schröter family returned to Leipzig sometime around 1773 or 1774, Johann Samuel stayed in England where he served for a time as organist in the German Chapel in London, a position later filled by Augustus Frederic Christopher Kollmann who is remembered as a music theorist and for the oft-cited diagram of the sun of composers in which Kollman placed J.S. Bach at the center surrounded by Haydn, Handel, and Graun, and all the radiating rays bear the names of composers seen countless times within GemeinKat as composers known and loved by Moravians. Kollmann actually mentioned Schröter in his magazine, the Quarterly Musical Register.

Through John Christian Bach, Schröter became acquainted with the English court; and when J.C. Bach died in 1782, Schröter was named music master to Queen Charlotte. Charles Burney wrote that Schröter “first brought to England the true art of treating [the piano].” He wowed audiences with his nimble performances of fast passages. The Musikalisches Wochenblatt reported “His touch was extremely light and graceful so that just to watch him play became a pleasure in itself.” (New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, vol. 22, p.649). Schröter’s piano concertos were among the first piano concertos published in England, and Mozart thought highly enough of them that he composed cadenzas for them.

So why have we never heard of Johann Samuel Schröter? He seems to have been outshined by the likes of J.C. Bach, Mozart, and even Haydn (with whom Schröter’s widow Rebecca studied when Haydn made his first trip to London. Haydn even dedicated a set of piano trios to her!).

It was interesting to see what collections and locations hold this particular concerto. Archives and libraries in Frankfurt, Bonn, Munich, Berlin, Leipzig and Wrocław, Poland (formerly Breslau) were not surprising. I noted with particular interest that the collection of the court of Öttingen-Wallerstein (where Antonio Rosetti served) and its neighboring principality of the Prince of Thurn und Taxis both owned copies of this concerto. However, Stockholm, Sweden, Montecassino and Brescia, Italy and a Benedictine monastery in Croatia were unexpected finds. Louisville, Kentucky was also a shock. There it is part of a collection of noble family from Florence, Italy.

I have also noted with delight that a piano sonata by Schröter was published by Oxford University Press in 1975 in a set of five which also included one of Christian Ignatius Latrobe’s piano sonatas (dedicated to Haydn). Schröter was not a Moravian, but he fits in nicely with those Moravians who were talented, well-connected, but ultimately forgotten by history. Perhaps, like Schroeder, it’s time to get Schröter, and Moravian composers out of the shadows of history and into the picture again.Schroeter.jpg


Filling in the blanks for missing manuscripts

While the majority of musical compositions in the Johannes Herbst Collection consists of sacred solos, duets, and choral music, there are occasional pieces to commemorate birthdays and even historical/political events.

As I have been editing records in the Herbst Collection on RISM, I have been intrigued by the music that is missing from the collection. In her catalog of the Herbst Collection, Marilyn Gombosi listed number 31 as “unidentified” but gave the date “Am 22. Nov. 1763.” She apparently obtained this date from Johannes Herbst’s Book of Texts, a collection of all the texts he used in his copied compositions. I looked in Ewald Nolte’s transcription of Herbst’s manuscript and found not only that date but also the following 6 texts:

  1. Alles Fleisch ist wie die Gras, und alle Herrlichkeit der Menschen wie des Grases Blumen; das Gras verdorret und die Blumen fallen ab; aber des Herrn Wort bleibet in Ewigkeit (altered form of I Peter 1:24)
  2. Das ist das Wort, das unter uns verkündiget wird (That is the word that is proclaimed among us)
  3. Du lehrest sie, dass es ein Ende haben muss, und ihr Leben ein Ziel hat und jegliches davon muss. Nun, Herr! wess soll ich mich trösten? Ich hoffe auf dich. (Psalm 39:4)
  4. Siehe! um Trost war mir sehr bange, du aber hast dich meiner Seele herzlich angenommen, dass sie nicht verdürbe, denn du wirfest alle meine Sünde hinter dich zurücke. (Isaiah 38:17)
  5. Wohl denen, die in deinem Hause wohnen, die loben dich immerdar, Sela! (Psalm 84:4)
  6. Unser keiner lebt ihm selber, unser keiner stirbt ihm selber. Leben wir, so leben wir dem Herrn; sterben wir, so sterben wir dem Herrn; darum wir leben oder sterben, so sind wir des Herrn. (Romans 14:7-8)

Now, some of you may recognize certain portions of the texts above from Brahms’ German Requiem, such as “alles Fleisch ist wie Gras” (For all flesh, it is as grass) with its plodding, dark tones and timpani, or the “wohl denen, die in deinem Hause wohnen” from the celestial “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place” movement. You might also recognize the “Unser keiner lebt ihm selber” text from the anthem “None Among Us Lives to Self” and the rest of the passage from Romans found in our Memorial Service and Burial liturgy (MBW, p.117).

By now you get the idea that the text is a funeral or memorial service, but what’s the significance of the date: 22 November, 1763?

I searched in RISM for the text “Alles Fleisch ist wie Gras” in the Title field and the year 1763 anywhere in the record. This resulted in 4 answers: all in the Herrnhut archives (D-HER) and all by Christian Gregor. Looking at the details of the records, I read that it was an ode on the occasion of the death of Frederick Augustus II, who died October 5, 1763. He would convert to Roman Catholicism in order to become king of Poland. In 1733 Johann Sebastian Bach presented him the Kyrie and Gloria of what would later become the B Minor Mass to Frederick Augustus II.

One of the 4 copies is in a collection with the funeral music for his son Frederick Christian who succeeded him as Elector of Saxony and died just two months after his father on December 17, 1763.

Since we do not own Herbst’s copies of the music manuscript of the ode for 22 November 1763 (Alles Fleisch ist wie Gras), but do have this evidence both from Herbst’s Book of Texts and the Herrnhut manuscripts, I will be adding a record for a handwritten libretto and cross-reference to the Herrnhut manuscripts to fill out what we can deduce about the missing music manuscripts.

Moravian Archives Portal

A new link appears under “Links to Related Sites” — Moravian Archives Portal.

Tom McCullough, Bethlehem Archives says: With archival facilities around the world, our employees collect and preserve the records of the Moravian Church and make them available to the public. This site serves as a central hub to guide patrons in locating, contacting, and visiting the facilities that hold records pertinent to their research.other page.

Celebrating Sharing: how having our records on two platforms not only broadens our reach, but deepens insight

The Moravian Music Foundation preserves, shares, and celebrates Moravian musical culture.

Much of my job over the last four years has been assisting in bringing the catalog of the Moravian Music Foundation online. Our OCLC Worldcat catalog is called GemeinKat. This allows anyone in the world to search our holdings of over 10,000 manuscripts and early editions, thus it addresses the “shares” part of our mission statement.

However, we have also decided to make our holdings accessible in RISM (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales), an international database of music manuscripts and early printed editions in libraries, archives, monasteries, schools, and private collections.

Recently I had an article published which detailed how we used pre-existing records in RISM to upload to OCLC for our GemeinKat catalog. Once editing and subject heading enhancements were made, we overlaid records back to RISM (“The Moravian Music Foundation Experience Using Bibliographic Records Downloaded from RISM,” Fontes Artis Musicae, vol. 64 no. 4 (October-December, 2017): pp. 355-366). This summer I had the opportunity to share this at the IAML (International Association of Music Libraries) Congress in Leipzig, Germany.

Having our records available on two platforms (OCLC and RISM) does more than broaden our coverage. There is a complementary aspect to our presence on both platforms. When our card catalog was created in the 1970s, the librarians/musicologists added musical incipits: the opening measures of music, so you would see what the melody of the work was. Currently there is no way to display musical incipits in OCLC (GemeinKat). RISM, on the other hand, does have the capability not only to display musical incipits, but also to search them. This has allowed us to identify, and sometimes correct, attributions to composers and works.

Both platforms allow us to embed URLs to link records from one platform to the other. This means if you find a record in one database it will link you to the corollary in the other, Let’s see some examples:

H 281 GemeinKat

Perhaps you located the record above by searching for settings of John 3:16, or by searching for an anthem based on a Daily Text. In the GemeinKat record you will see information about the music manuscript, but there is no musical incipit. If you click on the link provided at More information which says “RISM catalog record with musical incipits,” you’ll be directed here:

H 281 RISM OPAC top

As you can see, much of the same bibliographic information is still there, but now you have musical incipits which display how the accompaniment begins as well as the Soprano 1 opening measures. The Read online button near the top will link back to the GemeinKat record.

Then, if you scroll down, you’ll see some other interesting options:

H 281 RISM OPAC bottom

In the Notes field, you’ll see a couple links where we have provided images of the title page and the first page of Herbst’s full score:

H 281 ms title page

(detail of title page)

H 281 ms fullscore

(first page of full score in Johannes Herbst’s hand)

We will not be uploading images for every record, but we have uploaded some images to provide examples of our holdings.

Hopefully our efforts to provide information about our holdings will inspire musicologists, musicians, and students to contact us to learn more about our music; and perhaps they will produce new editions like I did for this work:

Also hat Gott

Moravian Festivals Days Included in Records

Some of the manuscript sources designate a special festival day at which an anthem or series of anthems were sung. For example, at the top of the score of an anthem by Johannes Herbst the inscription reads:

Lobet den Herrn alle seine Heerscharen No. 333
Zur Einweyhung des neuen Kirchensaales in Litiz am 13.ten Aug. 1787 

This attribution merits subject headings for consecration of the new church Saal and for the Moravian August 13th Festival.  The list below provides the searchable subject headings used in records these Moravian collections. A full list of festivals of the Moravian Church Year includes these festivals as well as other festivals (Christmas, Easter, etc.). These phrases can be search in GemeinKat as a subject (su: Widows Covenant Day (Moravian Church)).

April 30           Widows Covenant Day (Moravian Church)

May 4              Single Sisters Covenant Day (Moravian Church)

May 12            Adoption of the Brotherly Agreement and Statutes (Moravian Church)

June 4              Older Girls Covenant (Moravian Church)

June 24            Little Boys Covenant Day (Moravian Church)

August 13       August 13th Festival (Moravian Church) [Spiritual Renewal]

August 17       Children’s Festival (Moravian Church)

August 19       Mission Festival [or other days]

August 29       Single Brothers Covenant Day (Moravian Church)

September 7    Married Choir Covenant Day (Moravian Church)

November 13  November 13th Festival (Moravian Church) [Chief Elder celebration]

“Singstücke beym Clavier zu Singen” leads to Newberry Library

Dave Blum: I’m currently working through the Lititz Manuscript Book Collection. Presently I am working through a set of 48 tunes many of which were copied by J.F. Peter in a manuscript book owned by Christian  Schropp (1756-1826).

The first entries are patriotic songs, but the collection soon turns to sacred songs in the same vein as Herbst’s songs to be sung at the pianoforte. In fact the title of the collection is “Singstücke beym Clavier zu Singen,” and there have already been a few tunes in common with the Herbst German collection. Several of these texts have been verses of hymns I’ve been able to identify in the Gregor Gesangbuch. When the composer is not known I’ve been searching RISM to see if I can find a match.

This morning I searched for information for the text “Ich find’ in meines Heilands Leiden,” but could not find the text either in the Gesangbuch or in HYMNARY.ORG. I then searched RISM to see if I could find the tune. I found a single match which shared the title in this collection:

Title on source: [cover title:] Charlotte L. | Schropp’s | Music Book. | March. 1800.
Material: • score: 16f.
Manuscript: 1800 (1800); 17,5 x 24 cm
This collection is at the Newberry Library in Chicago!

The aforementioned music collection at the Newberry Library names Charlotte L. Schropp. I don’t know if this is the same person. Could the L stand for Loskiel, her adoptive parents?

I found the following in: Schultze, Augustus. “The Old Moravian Cemetery of Bethlehem, Pa., 1742-1897.”  Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society, v. 5 (1899), 1899.

“Charlotte Sabina Schropp, 1787-1833, born at Nazareth, a daughter of John Schropp. She taught in the boarding school. After her father’s death she was adopted by Bishop Loskiel and wife, and showed them the loving attention of a daughter.”

Now, there was a bumper crop of Schropps. The name appears in the graveyard listings of Nazareth and Lititz, but this was the only Charlotte I could find. This may not be the right person, but it cannot be mere coincidence that the only other occurrence of this text and tune has someone with the same last name.

Diving into musical incipits (so to speak)

Musical incipits — how does one do this? We followed the leaders.  Since we wanted the musical incipits available to scholars where they work,  we selected OCLC’s WorldCat Discovery for bibliographic access; however, the WorldCat lacks software to display musical incipits.  The other place where music scholars work is RISM (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales), which does display musical incipits. So, it was a matter of making our bibliographic records with incipits in WorldCat and migrating our records to RISM so that the music incipits display.  Another huge factor in this decision was that the Moravian Music Foundation looked for a hosted IT solution that would not require servers and customization at the local level. So, it was not a matter of finding software that could use Finale or Sibelius files, we needed a whole solution.

Musical incipits were baked into the RISM cake from the beginning in the 1970s. An encoding system called, Plaine and Easie Code, is the international standard used for musical incipits in RISM records. It is suited for use without technology, but is made much easier to use with modern tools.  It is said that Plaine and Easie Code is neither plain, nor easy; but using online software Verovio makes creating the code almost as easy as playing the incipit on the piano. The RISM staff and programmers maintain the Plaine and Easie Editor for making  musical incipits.

Our project has a group of three music encoders, who add incipits into bibliographic records for each collection. Here is an example of musical incipits from the source catalog card transformed into an encoded musical incipit in our bibliographic record.

The source information:

Musical incipit encoded into the  bibliographic record:

The display of encoded information in RISM:


The incipit coders apply the codes from the Plaine and Easie Code standard using the Verovio Plaine and Easie Editor, then copy information into field 031 using the MARC 21 Standard for Bibliographic Information.  After the bibliographic record is loaded into the RISM database, it can be displayed to users.

Finding an aria within an oratorio and other such dilemmas

Moravian music collections are a mixed bag of printed editions, manuscript copies of printed editions, manuscripts of original music, manuscripts of excerpts and contrafactum.  By contrafactum I mean the substitution of one text for another without substantial change to the music. So these collections require access to all music down to the lowest movement level. This is essential for vocal music and slightly less essential for instrumental music.

For example, it is not uncommon to identify a favorite chorus from a Johann Heinrich Rolle oratorio, which has been copied as an anthem, perhaps the text has changed and maybe even the choral voicings (such as, SATB to SSTB). Some of these excerpts or contrafactum were copied and appear in multiple collections among the settlement congregations, including Bethlehem, Nazareth, Lititz and Lancaster in Pennsylvania, Dover in Ohio and Salem in North Carolina. The anthems were used during worship services, Singstunden or Love Feasts.

The question for catalogers is how to provide access to all the music, including sub-units such as movements of a larger work.  The answer leads to a complicated, multi-pronged solution.  First, all movements music be cataloged to gain access to the smaller sub-units; secondly, all movements must include musical incipits.  Matching musical incipits is the best way to identify musical works — independent from the texts. Musical  incipits are printed in standard music notation. They typically feature the first few bars of a piece, often with the most prominent musical material written on a single staff.  Here is an example from RISM.  In another post we will dive into musical incipits.

So, if the catalogers are providing complete access to all the music, what cataloging guidelines have been used?

  • Since we wanted to convert all information on the paper cards to online records, we chose OCLC and RISM as the two bibliographic utilities which are the best sources for discovery (bibliographic and musical).
  • Instrumental works are cataloged on one bibliographic record, with the movements noted in the table of content field (field 505) and the musical incipits encoded for each movement in separate fields (field 031).
  • Vocal works are cataloged on multiple bibliographic records, with one “parent” record for the entire work and separate “child” bibliographic records for each movement.  We include all movement titles in the “parent” table of contents (field 505), while the musical incipits are included in the “child” bibliographic record for each movement. The child record also includes additional subject access depending on the item. For example, subject headings, such as “sacred songs” or “choruses, sacred” or “canons, fugues, etc. (chorus), are added to child records.
  • The parent and child records need to be linked together, showing the relationship and providing access to each.
  • Sometimes, the manuscripts include hand-written notes with an alternate text, which is noted on the bibliographic records.  Sometimes, only the alternate text is given on the manuscript; in this case the musical incipit is the way to identify and bring together like works.
  • Use the parent/child bibliographic records model for collections of unrelated works too.

In our online catalog, GemeinKat/WorldCat Discovery, the feature of linking the parent and child records for display is still under construction.  In the RISM catalog the linking of parent and child records is an important feature (and is very cool).

An example of parent/child bibliographic records for a collection is illustrated well with the collection Zum großen Sabbath, 1768.  Johannes Herbst (a collection of 9 sacred songs). At the bottom of the page there is a list of the 9 sacred songs, each linked to an individual record for each song. Each individual song is, in turn, linked to the parent record.


Definition of Terms

GemeinKat: GemeinKat is the name of the online catalog for the Moravian Music Foundation. It is the catalog of the “Gemeinde” or the community; the 18th and 19th century communities include Salem, NC, Bethlehem, PA, Nazareth, PA, Lititz PA, Lancaster, PA, Dover OH.  The online catalog uses OCLC’s WorldCat Discovery customized for our use, but connected to the entire WorldCat.

Musical incipit: Musical incipits are printed in standard music notation. They typically feature the first few bars of a piece, often with the most prominent musical material written on a single staff.



RISM: The International Inventory of Musical Sources – Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) – is an international, non-profit organization which aims for comprehensive documentation of extant musical sources worldwide. These primary sources are manuscripts or printed music, writings on music theory, and libretti. They are housed in libraries, archives, monasteries, schools and private collections. A copy of the records from GemeinKat are being loaded into the RISM online catalog.

Moving data from paper records to online records

There are many decision that need to be made when transferring information from paper records to online records.  In this case, we are moving the information to MARC records that are readable in library catalogs.

  1. What does the paper record respresent? Moravian music cataloged during the NEH cataloging project in the 1970s have compact descriptions.  That is, all the manifestations of an entity are represented in one descriptive record.

For example, Christian Ignatius Latrobe’s cantata The Dawn of Glory has three manifestations: one printed organ-vocal score, one manuscript organ-vocal score and 16 manuscript parts.  See the description here: Dawn of Glory.

A conceptual decision was made for these instances that the printed music have spearate records from the manuscript music.  In this case, there was a record for Latrobe’s printed vocal score, plus a record for the manuscript vocal score with manuscript parts.

2. How does the catalog handle multi-part works (like a cantata), so that a single movement can be discovered? The catalogers made separate records for each movement of a work and included a musical incipit, so that the specific passage can be identified. These records were linked together by call number.  In the online catalog records are linked together with linking fields.

In the case of the Latrobe cantatas, using the manuscript vocal score and parts as an example, there is a parent record for the whole cantata plus 16 records for individual movements. I call them the children records.  So there is a parent record, plus 16 child records for the vocal score and parts.