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.