Home, at last

What does one do when trying to identify a piece of music when there is a viola part with no composer name, a generic title “Viola Concerto”, a caption title “Concertino”, a key signature B♭ major, and tempo markings for the three movements — “Tempo Giusto”, “Andante ma non molto” and “Finale Tempo di Menuetto”? This solitary viola part was in the Bethlehem Miscellaneous Collection, B Misc [36] since about 1975, in Bethlehem collections for probably two hundred years and over 500 miles from its current location.

This information lead me to surmise that the piece was part of a concertante with more than one solo instrument. The tempo marking for the first movement “Tempo Giusto” is distinctive and was helpful. A quick Google search revealed that that tempo marking and the other two markings are found on a work in the another Moravian Music Foundation collection — Salem Collegium Musicum SCM 235.

SCM 235 was identified as a cello concerto, although we only had two parts — labeled “Violoncello Concerto” and “Basso Grosso”. These parts were also labeled “Concertino” with the same tempo markings, but lacked a composer name. Comparing the parts from both locations, Dr. Nola Reed Knouse confirmed that the three parts belongs together. Plans were made to move the viola part from Bethlehem to Winston-Salem, destined to reside in the SCM 235 folder.

SCM 235 (solo viola, solo cello, basso grosso)

By searching in RISM by the distinctive tempo marking, a potential matching piece, “Concertino” in B♭ major with the same tempo markings by Leopold Hofmann was found. Now the incipits in RISM included the melodic material of the work, but our parts were more harmonically supportive. So the match still seemed speculative. An article on Leopold Hofmann in Wikepedia provided another clue, identifying “Badley VIII:B1 \ Concertino for 2 violins, viola & cello in B flat major” in a list which was created by Allan Badley in his Ph.D. thesis. (Badley, Allan. The concertos of Leopold Hofmann (1738–1793) Thesis. (University of Auckland.)).

Reference Librarian, Dave Blum, found Professor Allan Badley at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He was delighted to confirm that we had indeed identified three parts to the Concertino in B♭ major for solo violin, viola, cello, accompanied by 2 violins, viola, and bass, which is now identified with the thematic catalog number “Badley 21”.

Badley 21 from The concertos of Leopold Hofmann (l738-l793) by Allan Donald Jeffryes Badley. 1986.
Solo Viola Part
Solo Cello Part

Going from Anonymous to Composer name

I encountered this anonymous work while converting records for the Bethlehem Miscellaneous Collection. Here is how I identified a work, starting with no composer name, no title page. I had a cataloger’s description of title (Duet), publisher plate number, instrumentation (violoncello and ???), a number (as in duet 1 of 3), key for each and incipits.

1. Searched RISM by plate number (231)

2. Kraft Duets are in the right keys, d minor, C major, F major and the titles of the movements are the same as ours. The incipits are for the violin part, while we have the cello part. I use Verovio to match our inciptis to incipits in RISM. Two of the nine movements seem like a match. This seems the likely work.

3. Fortunately, Sachsische Landesbibliothek, Dresden has a digital copy of the score (See View Online). The cello part matches our cello part. Bingo! Found the RISM record (990034685). Now to find the OCLC record.

4. With the composer name and plate number I easily find the OCLC record (56728812), create local holdings for it and link it to the RISM record and the location of the digital copy.

5. Result

OCLC: https://moravianmusic.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1268269311

RISM: https://opac.rism.info/search?id=990034685&View=rism (RISM holdings visible after monthly data load)

6. How long did this take? About 2 hours, 15 minutes

7. This was a case where existing records were found in both OCLC and RISM. If I had had to create a new record in OCLC and 4 new records in RISM and link them. It would have taken perhaps another hour. Why 4 new records in RISM? One for the parent record that includes the 3 duets and 1 for each duet. This is the first time that I encountered such complete records in both systems for this configuration.

A deeper dive into “Drey Parthien di Pleyel”

Among the partbooks in the collections of the Philharmonic Society of Bethlehem is a set of three partitas by Ignace Pleyel for two clarinets, bassoon and two horns (PSB 1351[.2]). It is labeled as No. 2 among the works of six composers in this set of “5 Books | 9 Parthien | for Wind Instruments.” Musicologist/cataloger Richard Claypool identified the hand of the copyist as Johann Friedrich Peter.

In the 1970s, when Richard Claypool was cataloging the Philharmonic Society of Bethlehem Collection in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, musicologist Rita Benton and her team was searching for ALL early evidence of the works of composer Ignace Pleyel for her upcoming thematic catalog of Pleyel’s works.  (Ignace Pleyel: A Thematic Catalogue of his Compositions by Rita Benton. New York: Pendragon Press, 1977). This set of partitas was included in the catalog, identified as B (2049) (page 78).

The Benton thematic catalog is organized by compositions and further by manifestations of each composition. So in this case the three partitas included a version of compositions numbered Benton 574-579, 138, X63 and X52.  To illustrate this further compositions 574-579 are Duos for piano and flute/violin.

You can see how the manuscript incipit at the top, which is Partita I, matches up with Benton 575/i. Adjustments must be made for key or instrumentation. Each of the movements can be matched to musical incipits in the thematic catalog.

Musical incipits in two movements in Partita II are identified as X63 and X52, movements that are untraced or wrongly attributed. This means that Benton cannot verify that Pleyel composed those two movements. So, there is an unidentified composer. Checking further under the versions of Duos, there is not a quintet included among print or manuscript versions. So, Drey Parthien di Pleyel does not seem to have been copied from a printed arrangement or manuscript version of the Duos.

With further examination, B 138 is Pleyel’s Symphony in F minor, composed in 1786. An edition of this symphony is in the Salem Collegium Musicum Collection SCM 200 — Grande Sinfonie pour deux violons… par J. Pleyel. Oeuvre 14, Livr: 3.  I found three printed editions of the Duos: SCM 65 for piano and violin; MSPR 61 and MSPR 72 for two violins.

Johann Friedrich Peter worked in Salem, NC from 1780 to 1790, then north to Bethlehem and other locations. With access to the Pleyel Duos and Symphony, I surmise that Peter created an arrangement, Drey Parthien, from selected movements and composed two movements (X63 and X52) himself.

With the online cataloging of the Moravian music collections, it is the first time that this deeper view of resources has brought these pieces of information together to suggest that Peter arranged the Parthien for two clarinets, bassoon and two horns from selected Pleyel works and two movements Peter composed himself.

Do we have enough instruments to play that work? 

This is a questions that surely must have been spoken any number of times in 18th-19th century Salem.  It is true that members of the Moravian community were tailors, bakers, millers, and other tradesmen, but many were also musicians. Judging from the difficulty of the music, they were accomplished on their instruments or with their voices.

Recently, I cataloged Carl Loewe’s Die Sieben Schlaefer, op. 46.  The Moravian Music Foundation holds a printed score (B. Schott, 1835) and an incomplete set of manuscript parts (copied in Salem between about 1845 and 1855), which were played by the Salem Collegium Musicum (date unknown).  The score calls for a full orchestra, chorus and numerous soloist: S solo (3), A solo, T solo (3), B solo (3), S coro, A coro, T coro, B coro, fl (2), ob (2), cl (2), fag (2), cor (2), trp (2), trb (3), timp, vl (2), vla, vlc, b. Our holdings include printed parts, also published by B. Schott.

In Christian and Islamic tradition, the Seven Sleepers  is the story of a group of youths who hid inside a cave outside the city of Ephesus around 250 AD to escape religious persecution and emerged some 300 years later.  Carl Loewe used Ludwig Giesebrecht’s libretto in his setting of the story, which became a popular work in Europe and the United States.

While we have an incomplete set of manuscript parts, the parts we do have prompt the question that may have been heard — Do we have enough instruments to play that work?

Parts in our holdings include: T Solo (Antipater) ; S (4), A (4), T, B; cl (C) I, II; hn (E♭) I, II; clarino (D & E♭) I, II; clavicor (E♭ alto sax horn); bass sax hn (C); trmb T, B (2); basso.  Of particular interest are the parts for clavicor (alto sax horn) and bass sax horn, neither of which is in the printed score, but were instruments played in Salem at the time.

The clavicor, or alto sax horn, invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s is likely an instrument that played with the Salem brass ensembles. In this case the bassoon I part was transposed for clavicor.


The bass sax horn, also invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s is likely an instrument that played with the Salem brass ensembles. In this case the bassoon II part was transposed for bass sax horn.





The substitution of sax horns for bassoons is interested because in the earlier days of the Salem Collegium Musicum, pairs of winds (including 2 bassoons) were standard fair in their orchestra.  Or, is the question that there were two extra players who doubled the 2 bassoons (who were playing from printed parts).

Splitting hairs — is it a manuscript copybook or a manuscript tunebook? Or, both?

I’ve been “rearranging” the small collections in the Bethlehem part of our holdings, trying to create collections that make sense of items that do not fit into the the major settlement congregations (Bethlehem Congregation, Nazareth Congregation, Lititz Congregation, Dover Congregation, Lancanster Congregation).  Over the years we have received donations from various congregations in the Northern Province of the Moravian Church in America and from individuals.

With effort to have things make sense fifty years down the road, I’ve been working under the principal of putting “like” things together, such as printed music, manuscript music, tunebooks, bound volumes of printed music, and bound manuscript copybooks. I have encountered some bound manuscript copybooks which have atrributes of Moravian tunebooks.

The model for Moravian tunebooks is Christian Gregor’s Choral-Buch (1784), which used conventional organization of tunes according to metre.  Tunes were labeled by an alpha-numeric order (22H, affectionaly known as Art numbers), had descriptive title identifiers (Wareham) and had a known text incipit associated with the hymn or chorale (Nun danket alle Gott). These conventional were common in the 18th and 19th centuries.

I believe the Moravians, because of their intimate use of hymns and chorales, created personal tunebooks by copying identified tunes for their own use. These personal manuscript copybooks are for individual instruments or for piano.  Some include at least one verse of text, while other include multiple verses or only a textual incipit.  In some copybooks other songs with piano accompaniment are included with the chorales.

Why does this diffientiation matter?  In sorting materials in the Bethlehem collections, putting “like” things together is one of my goals.  So, manuscript copybooks that include only hymn tunes/chorales with Art numbers or tune names,  but which lack underlaid text or have only textual incipits will be gathered with tunebooks.  On the other hand, manuscript copybooks which may include some hymns/chorales identified in this way but also include other music, such as songs with piano and choruses, will be gathered with manuscript copybooks.

Here are two examples

The first is in tunebook style — close score, textual incipit, tune name, and indication of metre (L.M.). Four tunes are given in this example.

The second is in copybook style, which includes not only chorales with text, but this arrangement of “The heavens are telling” from Haydn’s Creation.

A woman composer in a Moravian music Collection?

Today for the first time, I encountered a composition by a woman composer.  In the collection of the Philharmonic Society of Bethlehem I found the cataloging for Johanna Kinkel’s Vogelkantate.  It was published by T. Trautwein in 1838.  It is a cantata for 5 voices and piano.  We have the printed score and parts. She labeled the work “Musikalischer Scherz” or a musical joke.  It is filled with bird immitations.

Johanna Kinkel (1810-1858) was a composer, pianist, choral director, poet, journalist, novelist, music teacher and historian. She was born Johanna Mockel in Bonn. Her father was a teacher at the French Gymnasium and her mother encouraged her musical talents. She studied with Franz Anton Ries and with his support she began a career as a coach, accompanist and choral directory while still in her teens.

Vogelkantate, her op. 1,  was published while teaching piano and studying with Karl Böhmer and Wilhelm Taubert in Berlin. The orginal owner of the score and parts was Timothy Weiss (b. 1800), whose name is inscribed on the cover. Timothy Weiss was a noted tenor; he also played clarinet and trombone with the Philharmonic Society of Bethlehem

You can look at the description of Vogelkantata in GemeinKat.



I know NOTHING about Schulz…

As a child of the 1960s and a long-time Moravian I confess I have conflicting notions in mind when I hear the surname Schultz/Schulz (they’re pronounced the same). One notion, of course, is the Christmas anthem “Thou Child Divine.” The other is this guy:

Sgt Schulz

At the end of a manuscript book (SMB 29.31) in the Salem Manuscript Books Collection I saw the title “Chorus by Schultz.” I did further investigation to identify the composer and the work, and determined this chorus was by Johann Abraham Peter Schulz, and was copied from his oratorio Maria og Johannes. More about this later.

Chorus by Schultz SMB 29_31

Biographical information about Johann Abraham Peter Schulz reveals that his father was a baker, so you wonder if J.A.P. Schulz had the same affinity for food as Sgt. Schultz had for LeBeau’s culinary delights.

Johann Abraham Peter Schulz was born in 1747 in Lüneburg, Germany, about 60 km southeast of Hamburg. Although his father intended a religious career for his son, Johann was interested in music. At the age of 15, Johann attended a wedding with his mother then traveled to Berlin to seek out his musical heroes C. P. E. Bach and Joseph Kirnberger. Although he was convinced to finish his schooling in Lüneburg, when he turned 18 he returned to Berlin, and Kirnberger accepted him as a student. He spent a few years in Poland as an accompanist and music teacher to a princess. He met composer Johann Reichardt in Danzig (Gdansk, Poland) and they became lifelong friends. Returning to Berlin, Kirnberger convinced Schulz to write music articles for Sulzer’s Allgemeine Theorie der Schönen Künste and to contribute to other publications  about music. Bathia Churgin has written about Schulz’s writing about the classical symphony in Sulzer’s dictionary in “The Symphony as described by J. A. P. Schulz (1774): a commentary and translation” in Current Musicology, vol. 29, pp. 7-16 (Spring 1980).

With the help of Reichardt’s recommendation, Schulz became music director of a new theater in Berlin. Later he got a position with the Prussian royal family as court composer to the king’s kid brother in Rheinsberg. Schulz was keen on French operetta, which didn’t go over well with his Prussian prince employer. It was during his time in Rheinsberg that Schulz composed the opera Aline, reine de Golconde, from which derives the music we recognize as “Thou Child Divine.”

Schulz Thou Child Divine p1

Schulz then scored an even better position as Hofkapellmeister and director of the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen.

Although we don’t have any documentation to verify it, contemporaneous accounts report that Moravian composer Johann Soerensen  (1767-1831) (best remembered for “Bethany, O Peaceful Habitation”) may have studied with Schulz in Copenhagen while Soerensen was studying medicine there.

Besides opera and other stage music, Schulz composed sacred music, and some keyboard music; but he is  remembered for his contribution to German lied, setting texts of many leading writers of his day such as Voss and Klopstock with simple folk-like melodies.

In GemeinKat there are almost 300 entries for musical scores by Schulz in the Moravian Music Foundation’s collections. This number includes “analytics” which refers to records for individual movements in larger works. For example, a record for Handel’s Messiah would have individual records for each chorus and aria.

In 1982 Timothy Sharp created a modern a modern edition of Schulz’s oratorio Maria og Johannes based on Johannes Herbst’s copy (H B XXXIX) for his D.M.A. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Choruses from this oratorio were excerpted and are found in various collections of the Moravian Music Foundation. The Salem Manuscript occurrence  (pictured above) is a setting of “Trost und Wenn’ und Heil entquell” from Maria og Johannes with the English text “Christ is worthy to receive worship honour praise and blessing”

There. Now you cannot say you know NOTHING about Schulz!

Wolf not extinct

At the 2013 Moravian Music Festival the first modern performance of Ernst Wilhelm Wolf’s Easter Cantata (Ostercantate) took place. Each of the choruses is published as a separate anthem in the Moravian Star Anthem Series, and the complete scholarly edition was published by Steglein Publishing in their “Musical Treasures from Moravian Archives”  series. It has also been recorded by the Bach Festival Orchestra and Chorus with members of the Rollins College Singers under the direction of Dr. John V. Sinclair. Moramus Chorale will be performing the Easter Cantata in May, 2019.

As we progress through our cataloging project, we continually make discoveries and have little “AHA” moments. One of those moments occurred as I went through a manuscript book of A. C. Brown in the Salem Manuscript Books Collection. I was unfortunately not able to figure out who A. C. Brown was or her/his dates. There is also no date given in the manuscript book. My guess, based on the paper, the handwriting, and the other musical entries in the book, is that the manuscript book was probably compiled in the first third of the nineteenth century.

The 20th piece in the book had no title except “Quartetto” and was attributed to E. W. Wolf. Since editing the Easter Cantata, every time I encounter a musical work attributed to Wolf, I approach it as something from a friend long ago. However, as I looked at the music, it was very familiar, but the text was English:

Hark! a thousand harps and voices, sound the song of praise above; Jesus reigns and heav’n rejoices, Jesus reigns the God of love.

Come ye saints unite your praises with the angels round his throne; Soon we hope the Lord will raise us to the place where he is gone. Songs of glory to our King is what we should sing.

King of glory, reign forever, thine an everlasting crown; Nothing from thy love shall sever, those whom thou hast made thine own. Happy objects of thy grace, destin’d to behold thy face.

The text is based on a hymn of Thomas Kelly (1769-1854 or 1855), a man from Dublin, Ireland who’d planned to follow his father in the legal profession, “…but having undergone a very marked spiritual change he took Holy Orders in 1792.” (John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology)

The music is a keyboard reduction of the quartet movement of Wolf’s Easter Cantata with minor changes to accommodate the English text.

This movement presents us with a mystery. The quartet movement was not included in the 1792 Breitkopf score which Wolf had printed; however, Herbst included this movement in his copy of the Easter Cantata. Among the many copies of the Wolf Easter Cantata found in Moravian collections around the world, some include the quartet but others do not. I have also found a setting of this attributed to Johann Gottlieb Naumann (1741-1801) in the Danish National Library under the heading Das Daseyn Gottes in der Natur (The Presence of God in Nature). See my introduction in the Steglein edition for a full description.

The presence of this work in a manuscript book adds to the evidence that Moravians LOVED Wolf’s music, and made use (and re-use) of it again and again.

Wolf 4tet in SMB 29_20

Fer(di)nando’s Hideaway

Recently, at the Moravian Music on the Mountain weekend at Laurel Ridge, Nola Knouse asked if I’d like to select the tune for singing the Blessing at lunch. I chose the tune Fernando’s Hideaway. This was a favorite among the Moravian camps in the Mid-States region, but I wasn’t sure if folks would know the tune. I told them it didn’t have a Gregor number. Nola said it would have to be a 22. I suggested later that if we assigned a Gregor number to it, it should be 22 CHA(3). But I digress…

Recently I read an article about the publishing business of Breitkopf & Härtel (“The business of composition: measuring economic relationships at Breitkopf & Härtel, 1798-1838,” by Derek R. Strykowski, Notes  (Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association), vol. 74, no. 4 (June, 2018): 574-602). B&H was likely a source familiar to Moravians. In fact, one author has written that when Christian Ignatius Latrobe travelled to Herrnhut on church business, he would stop through Leipzig on his way back to London to shop the bargain bins at Breitkopf’s store, and take back music by the wheelbarrow (letter from Latrobe to Novello copied in Charles Stevens’ dissertation “The Musical Works of Christian Ignatius Latrobe”). The journal Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung was probably also familiar to Moravians, providing a window into contemporary music publishing.

Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung included a regular feature entitled Intelligenz-blatt, which announced new publications — mostly those produced by B&H. In the article, Strykowski provided analyses of composers with longstanding publishing relationships with B&H. One name jumped out at me because I recognized the name from our work in GemeinKat, and because of the surprisingly long length of the publishing relationship (46 published editions over 41 years!): Ferdinando Paer.

Ferdinando Paer (1771-1839) received his first instruction in music from his father who was a horn player in the court theater orchestra in Parma, Italy. After serving various positions in Parma, he moved to Vienna where he became the music director at the Kärntnerortheater (Theater am Kärntnertor). While in Vienna, Paer met Beethoven and Salieri. After a short stay in Prague in 1801, Paer later moved to Dresden to become Kapellmeister. Perhaps this was time that Moravians became acquainted with Paer’s music, although the first of Paer’s publications with B&H appeared in 1798. While serving in Dresden, Napoleon appears to have taken a liking to Paer’s music, and Paer followed Napoleon as far as Warsaw, Poland. Later Paer travelled to Paris, and Franz Liszt studied with Paer in the 1820s. A few years later Paer handed over the directorship of the Theatre Italien to Rossini. Paer is remembered as a composer of opera — both comic and serious. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians states that Paer composed at least 55 operas mostly within a period of 25 years!

The Moravian Music Foundation owns just a handful of Paer’s music (his name appears as Päer, Pär, and Paër in various manuscript and printed collections!). In the Bethlehem Philharmonic Society’s collection Paer’s Overture to Griselda is in a collection of other overtures. In the Salem Collegium Musicum there are three sets of printed parts for: Ouverture à grand Orchestre, No. 5 (SCM 195); Ouverture no. 4 à grand orchestre (SCM 194); and Sinfonie à grand Orchestre, No. 3 (SCM 193). All of these are printed by Breitkopf & Härtel, and were probably published around 1810-1812.

These three scores are among about 43 which I identified in OCLC, but in searching through RISM I could only identify one composition. When I performed a search by musical incipit for the Ouverture no. 4 à grand orchestre (SCM 194), I located three records in RISM for the Overture to the opera Numa Pompilius. Two of these were arrangements for piano 4-hands. In our parts for this work there is absolutely no mention of its being affiliated with any opera. In this set of parts we also have a single part in hand-copied manuscript, labelled “Contabasso.” This work was edited by former director Karl Kroeger and performed at the 13th Moravian Music Festival and Seminar under the direction of John Nelson in Winston-Salem in June, 1978.

A thematic catalogue of Paer’s work exists; but no copy resides anywhere close with which we could verify the musical works we own. Our collections, however, shed light on a composer whose music was well-represented in published form is his day and beyond (and thus is assumed to have been very popular), but who has become relatively unknown today.

Paer Overture


Frederick Agthe

A few months ago an email was forwarded to me from Anne Malmquist. Her great-great grandfather was Frederick Agthe. After the death of Anne’s father, copies of sheet music by Agthe were donated to the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem. Last year Anne traveled to Neudietendorf, Germany (where Agthe was born) and she also visited a museum in a town nearby which was eager to obtain copies of Agthe’s music. Thus began a journey, not only to locate the sheet music, but also to discover more information about Frederick Agthe.

The name was familiar to me. A piece of music by Agthe was featured in one of our lunchtime lectures. Bill  Osborne treated us to a sampling of discoveries among the uncataloged sheet music of 19th century Salem, and the first selection was Agthe’s Grand Etude. I located the box in our vault which held about a dozen folders with Agthe’s sheet music, but that wouldn’t be enough. I was curious to learn more about him. In Nola’s introduction she said that Agthe taught at the Salem Female Academy from late 1877 to 1880, was absent for a trip to London for about 5 years, and returned to the Salem Academy for a few years. I learned the reason he traveled to London, England was to work in the Bechstein piano store because his half-brother was Carl Bechstein!

I contacted the Bechstein company in Berlin, but sadly their records were destroyed during the war, so they have no documentation about Agthe’s time at their London store.

A German newspaper article about Carl Bechstein points to the remarriage of his mother to the cantor in the Dietendorf church, Johann Michael Agthe, who is described as “a versatile man who, in addition to his occupations, also made a name for himself as a gardener.” (Ein Bechstein in Neudietendorf, Thuringer Allgemeine (January 19, 2016)) According to this article as well as the Bechstein website Carl (and as we will see, also Frederick Agthe) learned to play violin, cello, and piano. Carl Bechstein (1826-1900) would become an apprentice to a piano maker in Erfurt, and later work with Pleyel in Berlin, before starting his own piano manufacturing business.

Bechstein was not the only piano-making family with which Agthe would be connected. After emigrating to America, and before 1859, Agthe married Mary Christina Malthaner (1835-1923), daughter of John Christian Malthaner, a piano-maker in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania of whom Laurence Libin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art has written (“More Light on J. C. Malthaner, Moravian Piano Manufacturer” in Journal of Moravian History, Volume 17, Number 2, 2017, pp. 105-137, in which incidentally Anne Malmquist is again mentioned). Late in life, Agthe wrote: “I was married at Bethlehem (during my stay at Nazareth) to Miss Mary Malthaner, the daughter of the well known piano manufacturer. I have two daughters and one son.” (Allisonia, vol. II, no. 4 (May, 1905), p. 182)

Frederick (Friedrich) was born April 13, 1834. The year of Agthe’s birth was previously undetermined. An online entry about his gravesite states that he was born in 1832, but the picture of his gravestone seems to show his year of birth as 1833. Anne Malmquist has supplied a picture of the baptismal record from the church in Germany showing 1834.

Baptism of Friedrich Agthe

According to an undated description of the Centenary Female College in Cleveland, TN (his last teaching position), Agthe “…began his study of music at the tender age of four years. He pursued and completed his education at the Royal School of Music in Berlin, Germany, studying Piano, Organ, Violin, Violoncello and Singing under such masters as Ries, Dorn and Gantz. After this he made a concert tour of two years through the United States. Since that time he has been Director in the first colleges in the United States, both North and South. For many years he was Conductor of Orchestras and Philharmonic Societies in Bethlehem and Philadelphia, Pa.”

Now, I’m only guessing, but it may be that Ries refers to Hubert Ries, the younger brother of Ferdinand Ries (student and close friend of Beethoven); Heinrich Ludwig Egmont Dorn, co-editor of the Berlin allgemeine Musikzeitung and co-conductor at the Berlin Hofoper; and Moritz Ganz, cellist and composer who became leading cellist in the royal orchestra of Berlin.

Agthe wrote “…I came to America in 1854…” on “…a long concert tour…” However, in his petition for U. S. citizenship, dated 4 September, 1863, Agthe claimed that he came to America via New York on 23 November, 1856. Did this two years (1854-56) mark the length of his concert tour? Did he then decide to stay in America rather than to return to Germany?

Not long after his arrival we know he served as a teacher at Nazareth Hall: “Frederic Agthe (1855-1858), Teacher of Music” in: Nazareth Hall: an historical sketch and  roster of principals, teachers and pupils, by H. H. Hacker Bethlehem, PA, Time Publishing Co., 1910

He apparently already had involvement in the musical life of nearby Bethlehem. “In 1858, an effort was made to revive the dormant [Philharmonic Society of Bethlehem]. J.P.E. Windekilde, a violinist, was elected leader, Fredrick Agthe, Louis Beckel and Rufus A. Grider, Directors, and James H. Wolle, Secretary.” (Historical sketch of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania: with some account of the Moravian Church, by John Hill Martin)

However, immediately thereafter he was also listed as a teacher in Nova Scotia (1859-1861): “Frederick Agthe, Esq., Professor of Piano, Organ, and Vocal Music” (A catalogue of the officers and students of the Mount Allison Ladies’ Academy, Sackville, N.B. [New Brunswick] for the year commencing Nov. 1858, and ending Nov. 1859. Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1859.) I contacted Mount Allison University. They have several items in their archives, including a handwritten autobiographical memoir, a typescript of the same, and a similar published version in their publication Allisonia (from which I’ll be quoting extensively). They also have some correspondence dated from the 1890s to Canadian-American mathematician Ray Archibald, who graduated from Mount Allison College in 1894 with a degree in mathematics and teacher’s certificate in violin.

“From 1861 to 1866, I was at the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies at Bethlehem, Pa., at that time one of the best known institutions throughout the United States.” (Allisonia, vol. II, no. 4 (May, 1905), p. 182) In a review of Romberg’s setting of Schiller’s “Glocke” performed in Nazareth, Agthe is incidentally mentioned: “But some auxiliary forces from the village itself, afforded by its able church choir, and two members of the Beethoven [Bethlehem?] orchestra, Messrs. Agthe and Weiss, also kindly lent their assistance. Mr. Agthe is known in our Moravian circles as an accomplished musician.” (Dwight’s Journal of Music, Saturday, November 8, 1862, p. 253) As mentioned above, in 1863 Agthe petitioned to become a U. S. citizen. The two witnesses (sponsors?) signing for him: Frederick R. Borhek (1822-90) and Henry Augustus Malthaner (1837-88), Agthe’s brother-in-law who continued the family piano-making business in Bethlehem.

“During the war I was called to Joy Hall, Bridgetown, N J., teaching there, 1866-74. I was organist and formed the Choral Union, a singing society which is flourishing to this day.” (Allisonia, vol. II, no. 4 (May, 1905), p. 182) A review of a recital in January, 1866 sheds significant light on Agthe:

“Bridgeton, N. J., Jan. 20 (1866)
“Music in America owes a great deal to the large body of respectable German artists who have settled among us as teachers and instrumental performers. Wherever they come they bring a certain amount of good music in their wake, for they are resolute and unyielding in presenting the works of good composers to their audiences and pupils. We were struck with this fact the other evening, after being present at an excellent concert given in this place by Professor Agthe, a Berlin artist, formerly of Bethlehem, Pa., who settled in Bridgeton this autumn. [The program is thereafter outlined.]
“A resident of the town rather discouragingly asked Mr. Agthe a day or so before the concert, if he expected much of an audience; “for,” said he, “the people do not comprehend such music.” “Then they must be educated up to the comprehension,” was Mr. Agthe’s brave reply. But “the people” showed an understanding and appreciation for which they had not received credit. The hall was well filled, and, with the exception of some persons who were as deficient in taste and breeding as information, and many time displayed a surprising degree of intelligent pleasure. [Comments regarding the performance of certain selections followed.]
“Mr. Agthe’s Violoncello part of the Chopin Polacca was very interesting. The Violoncello is his instrument, although he is also an able executant on the Piano, and is likewise a conscientious and excellent teacher. He accompanied Mr. Paling in the two four-hand pieces, — the Wolff Huguenots duo, and the 2nd Symphony of Beethoven — and his clear touch, good time, and smooth fingering must have been of service to his pupils, many of whom were present.
“Messrs. Agthe and Paling belong to the Clementi school of pianists.                                 “The concert on the whole was a success, and we sincerely hope Professor Agthe may be induced to continue his good work. If he will have the courage to give two or three more such musical entertainments we are sure he will be well repaid for his labor; not financially, we fear, but as an artist he will feel the satisfaction of doing good service in the cause of that Art which he and all of us love so dearly.” A. H. M. B. (Dwight’s Journal of Music, (Boston) vol. XXV, No. 23, Saturday, February 3, 1866, pp. 181-182) It is unknown whether similar recitals were given, but it seems a favorable first impression was made.

Agtha_Frederick (1)

“After the war, I was persuaded to come south and I was director at St. Mary’s College, Raleigh, N. C., 1874-80” (Allisonia, vol. II, no. 4 (May, 1905), p. 182) Although I have made contact with what is now called St. Mary’s School, I have not been able to shake loose any details of Agthe’s tenure there.

“I taught in Salem Academy, N. C., 1877-80. This last is the largest Moravian Institution for Young Ladies and the oldest boarding school in the south.” (Allisonia, vol. II, no. 4 (May, 1905), p. 182) He is remembered for owning a fine Bechstein piano which was kept in the Academy Chapel. (The Academy (September, 1878), p. 19) There are many references to Professor Agthe in the pages of The Academy, the newspaper of the Salem Female Academy. While many of the articles review his performances and praise his direction of the choirs, there are occasional insights into his personality. For example, in the summer of 1878 he accompanied other teachers and staff in an excursion to the mountains, and was remembered for telling jokes and stories. Another story tells of an evening of bowling:

Agthe bowling

Then there is mention of his pet: “Professor Agthe and family (not forgetting his cockatoo) spent the greater part of vacation in Ashe County, with his daughter, Mrs. R. A. Hamilton, returning, however, some 2 weeks before school opened.” (The Academy (September, 1886), p. 167)

Throughout the pages of the school paper there are references to performances by Professor Agthe both as pianist and cellist: “Some chamber music was interspersed through the programme, taken up by Miss Amelia Van Vleck, Profs. Agthe, and M[e]inung. An Andante from Reissiger’s Trios, op. 97 for Piano, Violin and ‘Cello…[later] it drew out a warm encore…a duett for Alto and Baritone, written by the Professor, and sung by himself and daughter, Miss Laura. It is composed in the strict school of German song-writing, and was excellently rendered…” (The Academy (November, 1878), p. 28)

The following fall came the news of that daughter’s marriage: “At Salem, N.C., October 9, 1879; in the Moravian church, by Rev. E. Rondthaler, R[ufus] A. Hamilton to Laura C. Agthe, daughter of Prof. Agthe, of Salem Female Academy.” (The Academy (October, 1879), p. 24) [It appears that Rufus’s brother was George Hege Hamilton from whom descended George Hamiltons IV and V.]

The students celebrated Professor Agthe’s birthday by presenting him a number of cakes and gifts, among them “…a handsome, gold-headed, ebony cane was presented by his music pupils and friends in the Academy.” Unfortunately, the professor was ill that day, but he wrote a touching acknowledgment: “I have to thank you for your elegant and very acceptable birthday gift. It has taken me entirely by surprise. I must regard it as proof of your appreciation of my efforts in your behalf in the course of my duties, and my interest in your improvement. I assure you that nothing gives me greater pleasure than to find you interested  in your music and diligent and faithful in following out my directions. That pleasure is all the reward I have ever looked for since I have been your teacher, and I hope your special remembrance of me to-day may be taken as a promise on your part of still greater interest in and devotion to the studies which you are following under my direction.” (The Academy (April, 1879), p. 8) Mention was made the following year of the presentation of  a silver smoking set from Professor Agthe’s vocal pupils.

One may assume both the students and faculty were saddened by the news of Agthe’s leaving: “We regret to state that Prof. Agthe is busily preparing to leave our sunny clime for the fogs of the city of London, where, however, he will enter upon duties presumably more agreeable than drumming music into the heads of dull scholars who will not read their notes. He has distributed a great deal of his music to his pupils and he has also disposed of his grand piano, which will be sorely missed at future entertainments. Prof. Agthe will conduct in London a branch of the piano business of his brother, Bechstein, of Berlin.” (The Academy (November, 1879), p. 28)

Before leaving for London, Agthe had begun to explore musical performances in the community beyond the girls of the Academy: “A singing society is being organized under the leadership of Prof. Agthe, composed of a large number of ladies and gentlemen from Salem, who will meet once a week in the Academy Chapel for practice” (The Academy (October, 1879), p. 24).

I have not been able to account for Agthe’s time in London. The Bechstein company lost its records during the war; but here’s what Agthe had to say about his time there:

“…I was called to London, England, to represent my half brother Bechstein in his principal branch honor in Oxford Street. Bechsteins are the greatest piano makers in Germany. In London (I was there, 1880-84) I came in constant contact with the first artists of Europe, [Anton] Rubinstein, [Hans von] Bülow, [Joseph] Joachim, [and others]…and enjoyed all the advantages a musician could wish.” (Allisonia, vol. II, no. 4 (May, 1905), p. 182)

“I was again called to Salem, N. C. (where the music had gone down considerably) to raise the music department to its former standard.” (Allisonia, vol. II, no. 4 (May, 1905), p. 182) Agthe’s return to Salem brought renewed rigor to the music curriculum. The January 1884 issue of The Academy outlined in detail the course of study under professors Edward Lineback, S. D’Anna, and Agthe.

Furthermore, community music-making was again taken up by Agthe: “The Salem Philharmonic Society, under Professor Agthe’s direction, gave a grand Concert in the Academy chapel, April 16th. It was an enjoyable occasion, and though the gas played hide and seek for us a considerable time, it finally condescended to stay and illumine the scene.” (The Academy (May, 1885), p. 68) Upon Agthe’s retirement, the direction was turned over the Rev. Francis F. Hagen: “Rev. F. F. Hagen a retired minister of the Moravian church now resident in Salem, has taken charge of the Salem Philharmonic Society since the departure of Professor Agthe. Mr. Hagen’s musical talents are of the highest order, and were exercised for the church service in his younger days already.” (The Academy (February, 1887), p. 206)

It became apparent that health issues were beginning to affect the Agthes: “Mrs. Agthe has gone North for the benefit of her health, as well as to visit relatives and friends, so our worthy Professor is a grass widower for the nonce.” (The Academy (April, 1886), p. 139) And months later came the announcement: “Prof. Agthe, late at the head of the Music Department of the Academy, resigned his position,  and with his family has gone north.” (The Academy (January, 1887), p. 197) Agthe taught music in Philadelphia 1888-91

Agthe accepted yet another teaching position in the south:

“…[in 1891] I became director of instrumental and vocal music in Centenary Female College, Cleveland, Teen., where I am still working like a slave to do good. I am also conductor of societies and orchestras as well as organist and teacher of many choirs. I teach piano, violin, cello and organ but have made vocal culture a specialty. My solo playing especially on the violin and cello is highly appreciated.” (Allisonia, vol. II, no. 4 (May, 1905), p. 182)

Early in 1899 came the news that Professor Agthe had been ill: “We were sorry to hear of the fact that Prof. Agthe is in poor health, at his Philadelphia home. His many friends
here hope that he may soon be restored” (The Academy (January, 1899) p. 1913 in “Personal Items”) Agthe was listed a Philadelphia city directory: “Agthe, Frederick, music teacher, 2345 Oxford” He was listed also under “Teachers, Music” (Boyd’s co-partnership and residence business directory of Philadelphia city, 1900)

“We were grieved to hear of the death of Professor Agthe, which took place at
the home of his daughter, Mrs. R.A. Hamilton, in Ashe Co., N.C. Professor Agthe was twice connected with our Institution as Music Professor, and was also very active in
connection with the music of the Home church and the musical organizations of the
community. He had very many friends in Winston-Salem, who will regret the sad news
of his death. Our deepest sympathy is  extended to the mourning friends.”
(The Academy (December, 1899), p. 1976)

“Agthe — Entered into the rest of Paradise on Dec. 22, 1899, at the home of his daughter,
Mrs. Rufus A. Hamilton, Beaver Creek, N.C., Professor Frederick Agthe, in his 66th year of his age. ‘I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.'”
(The Churchman, vol.81 (January 6, 1900), p. 28)

He is buried at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Jefferson, North Carolina, about 20 miles (as the crow flies) from the Moravian Church’s camp and retreat center at Laurel Ridge just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Besides the sheet music in the Moravian Music Foundation’s collections, several items reside in the Salem College archive. Others have been located in other libraries around the world, although the correct identification of Frederick Agthe is lacking. I have submitted information to create a Name Authority record in OCLC, and once that is created I will contact libraries which have sheet music by Agthe incorrectly attributed. In the meantime I have assembled a spreadsheet of titles, dedication information, publisher data and locations.