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).

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.


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

Who is Hendel?

Philhamonic Society of Bethlehem PSB 95 is a folder with manuscript parts bearing this title information: Ihrer war viel tausendmal tausend — Das Lamm, das geschlachtet ist p. … di Hendel.  Who is Hendel?  A check of the WorldCat database, the Library of Congress  authority file and the RISM OPAC did not provide any clues.

Searching RISM by musical incipit did reveal the identity of the work and the composer. The musical incipits matched George Frederic Handel’s Coronation Anthem, no. 1,  Zadok the priest. 

This is a case of contrafactum where the Moravians used Handel’s music and applied another text.  Oh, yes, someone used a phonetic spelling of Handel’s name.


Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott (J. S. Bach), 1824

Among the vocal works of the Philharmonic Society of Bethlehem is Folder 96. The title on the folder is Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott p. / Cantate / für 4 Singstimmen / mit Begleitung des Orchesters / in Musick gesetzt / von / John. Sebastian Bach. / Clavier Auszug.  Stamped: Moravian Church, / Choir Gallery / Bethlehem, Penna.  In the Gemein Music Account Book, John Christian Till was paid $3.00 on January 7, 1824 for copying parts for this piece.

How is it that a vocal work of J. S. Bach shows up in Bethlehem, Pa. in 1824? That is the question. It was in 1823/24 that Felix Mendelssohn was given a copyist manuscript score of Bach’s St. Mathew Passion by his maternal grandmother, Bella Soloman. The Mendelssohn family connection to the music of J. B. Bach goes back further to Felix Mendelssohn’s great aunt Sarah Levy (1761-1854), sister to Bella Soloman in Berlin. Sarah Levy, an accomplished musician and member of the esteemed Berlin Singakadamie, was devoted to works of J. S. Bach known through the association with her teacher Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. The Berlin Singakademie hired Carl Friedrich Zelter, who was also Felix Mendelssohn’s tutor and responsible for extensive music education programs and music training institutions throughout Germany. The rich musical environment had a profound impact on the Moravians and the music they performed.

According to the Dienerblätter, John Christian Till (1762-1844) was not known to have visited Germany or Europe. In 1824 he was the organist for the Germein in Bethlehem. The question remains — How is it that a vocal work of J. S. Bach shows up in Bethlehem, Pa. in 1824?

Felix Mendelssohn: Reviving the Works of J.S. Bach 



A Collection of Motets by Various Composers Becomes a Set of 7 Motets by Known Composers

The cataloging cards indicated “Collection of Motets” by “Various Composers”.  Three motets were by Christian David Jaeschke; three motets were anonymous and the last motet was by Samuel Friedrich Heine.

A note on the folder was inscribed: “7 Motetten … presented to the C.M. of Beth by their former active member the late Bishop Hüffel–a noted Violoncello players & father to Mrs. Sam. Reincke dec-d”.  This note was the key to discovering what this collection really is.

Deconstructing the information, we know that “C.M. of Beth” is the Collegium Musicum Bethlehem, here in the United States.  “Bishop Hüffel” is Christian Gottlieb Hüffel, 1762-1842, who was born in Kleinwelka, Germany, studied in Nieksy and Barby, was called to service in Dublin, Ireland, and Berthelsdorf, was a teacher at the Pädagogium in Niesky and Barby, called to service in Bethlehem, Pa. (1818 through 1826), called to service in Bethlesdorf and Herrnhut. Of most importance for this puzzle is that he was in Niesky and in Bethlehem.

The three motets by Jaeschke matched the descriptions for the same motets in RISM.  Two motets in RISM are in a collection of 6 motets, all by Jaeschke, from the Christiansfeld, Denmark Moravian archives. The three anonymous motets also match three motets in the Christiansfeld set of motets.  So, we now know that 6 motets are by Jaeschke and the 7th is by Heine.

In addition to identifying the composer, records for additional copies of these motets indicate that they are from the Nieksy Collection, that they are inscribed with the name C. G. Hüffel and dated 1786. Recall that Bishop Hüffel taught in Niesky from 1784 to 1789. He obviously made an additional copy of selected motets that he brought to America. He must have left the manuscripts with his daughter, Charlotte Sophia, who married Samuel Reincke. This manuscript was presented Collegium Musicum Bethlehem after Hüffel’s death.

Furthermore, the 6th motet, “Leben wir, so leben wir den Herrn” has an inscription on an inner folder: “Dank=P[salm] zur Einweih[ung] des Neuerbauten Ki[rche] in Bethl[ehm] am 20st [en Mai] 18[06].  This motet was sung at the dedicated of the new church (now Central Moravian Church) in Bethlehem on 20 May 1806.