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 

(https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200156436/)

 

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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.

Moravian Music Collections

The collections of the Moravian Music Foundation include over 20,000 manuscripts and early imprints of vocal and instrumental music, sacred and secular music, from the sixteenth through twenty first centuries. Not all music was written by Moravian composers, but it is all music which the Moravians used and enjoyed. These collections represent congregational collections, collegium musicum collections, and personal collections from Moravian settlements and individuals in America.

The collections have been “hidden” to most of the world for about 275 years. With the exception of the Johannes Herbst Collection, scholars and church musicians had to visit the Archives in Bethlehem and Winston-Salem to discover the collections. The story of the collections can be divided into six phases: Sources (1735 to 1850s), Storage (1850s to 1950s), Discovery (1930s to 1970s), Cataloging (1970s), Preservation (1990s) and Online (2004-). It is a story with a host of players – church musicians, composers, copyists, church elders, librarians, archivists, musicologists, and hymnologists.

Discovering the identity of an unidentified quintet

SCM 432 was a puzzle — no composer or title page, two parts (Ob II and Bsn) of a printed work (PN 1536) with a title “Quintet II” in the key of E♭ major. Using discovery tools and this process….

  • in WorldCat a search in the Publishers Number Index revealed 66 musical works with the publisher’s number “1536”. In the list 2 composers (Mozart and Anton Reicha) appeared with the word “quintet” in the title.
  • in RISM online a search for “Anton Reicha” revealed 85 works. There were 14 published works, which did not include any quintets. There were 30 entries for “quintets (instr).
  • Number 14 in the list of 30 was in E♭ Although we do not have the lead part (flute), the incipts matched up (key, time signature, tempo markings, melodic and rhythmic progression). It was identified as op. 88, no. 2 by Anton Reicha.
  • Further searching in RISM Series AII (paper) revealed a citation for published parts (PN: 1536) by the publisher Simrock.
  • So the unknown quintet is now identified as Anton Reicha’s Quintet for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, op. 88. No. 2, published by Simrock about 1817 or 1818.

[Dave has a recording of this work]

Determining the correct identity for symphonies by Georg Anton Kreusser.

While cataloging SCM 178 and LCM 80-82, I discovered an inconsistency between the manuscript copies of Kresser’s 3 symphonies and 3 Kreusser symphonies edited by Robert King in the early 1980s.  King identified the 3 symphonies as opus 13; whereas, (matching musical incipits) RISM identified the 3 symphonies as opus 1 and narrowed the identification further by thematic catalog number (PetK 34-36).

PetK is an abbreviation for the thematic catalog. We don’t own the 1975 work by Edith Peters, Georg Anton Kreusser : ein Mainzer Instrumentalkomponist der Klassik, but we borrowed it from UNC Chapel Hill through Interlibrary Loan.

Using the thematic catalog, it was revealed that not only did the musical incipits match, but the title page text of the manuscripts copied by Johann Friedrich Peter matched the elaborate title page of the first published parts (André, 1777). Our manuscripts indicate that that Peter copied the symphonies in 1786.  I found no evidence to support the use of opus 13 in our collection.

[show the title page of SCM 178 and the thematic catalog page 154 and the RSIM page]

Kreusser, Georg Anton [ascertained]
Symphonies in D major

Work information

Catalog of works: PetK 34

Genre: Symphonies

Title on source: Dx | No I. | VI Sinpfonie | â | Due Violini | Due Oboe | Due Corni | Viola | e | Basso | Dedicate a S. E. il Comte de Schoenborn. &. &. | Del Sig: Kreusser

 

 

Full Circle

“Full circle” may seem a strange name for part of a blog about Moravian Music archival and music resources, but for me it is encapsulates a personal journey.

I started working at the Moravian Music Foundation on December 1, 2014 as the Cataloging Project Manager — newly retired from Cleveland State University’s Michael Schwartz Library. I’ll tell you the story in a nutshell; the blog is intended to spin out the whole story in two paths. One path will be somewhat technical and of interest to music librarians and the other path is my personal journey from graduate student at the University of Arizona to staff member at the Foundation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The nutshell: The beginning of the circle for me started in 1974 as a graduate student in music history at the University of Arizona. For my Master’s thesis I selected a topic in Moravian Music because it met the advice from my mentor at Arizona, Dr. James Anthony: 1) I had to have access to primary source documents and 2) it had to be a project that I could live with for a long time. From the list of topics provided by Dr. Karl Kroeger, then director of the Moravian Music Foundation, I chose to work on a small book, A register of music performed in concert, Nazareth, Pennsylvania from 1796 to 1845 (in German).  My objective was to reconstruct the extraordinary repertoire performed by the Collegium Musicum in Nazareth based on existing manuscripts in the archives at the Archives of the Moravian Church, Northern Province. I spent a significant amount of time in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania at the archives and the offices of the Moravian Music Foundation matching entries in the Verzeichniss to musical works in the archives by combing through newly minted catalog cards or earlier inventories. I say “newly minted catalog cards” because the Foundation had received a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to catalog the musical manuscripts in Bethlehem, PA and Winston-Salem, NC. So, I worked alongside Richard Claypoole and Robert Steelman. They manually produced the catalog cards for each work, describing in exquisite detail everything that could be recorded about those thousands of works. I finished the thesis, although Claypoole and Steelman had not yet cataloged the manuscripts from Nazareth.

I believe the project was the most difficult and mind-expanding work of my life. Technically, the Verzeichniss is, of course, written in 18th century German script, was cryptic with abbreviations and short phrases that come with a weekly record of activities, and most importantly, the Collegium Musicum Nazareth library no longer exists.

Back to the nutshell — after graduation from Arizona I entered another graduate program in library of science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Serving as a music cataloger, paraprofessional then professional, at Mills Music Library, provided the day job; however, I still worked on the Verzeichniss, updating my manuscript with new catalog numbers after Claypoole and Steelman completed the NEH cataloging project.

Over the years, the Moravian Music Foundation invited me to join the Board of Trustees, which gave me another opportunity to encourage the Trustees and staff to use technology to bring the Foundation’s treasures to light. We talked about everything from email, desktop computers, and fundraising software to online cataloging for the collections. My heart was always advocating for conversion of the manuscript card catalog to records which could be discovered online. In 2004  among the long range goals was the conversion of the catalogs. As a Trustee or as a library consultant, I worked with The Rev. Dr. Nola Reed Knouse to chip away at the “big hairy audacious goal” of converting the catalogs.  In 2014 the Trustees committed a portion of the significant bequest to the “cataloging project”.

So, what started for me in 1974, watching Richard Claypoole and Robert Steelman create catalog cards for the 18th century music manuscripts, has come full circle.  I am now leading the project that will bring those same manuscript descriptions online and discoverable to the world.

Conversion has begun

GemeinKat: catalog of the Moravian Gemeinde or community

Conversion has begun at the Moravian Music Foundation, but we are not talking about a religious conversion — rather a conversion from catalog records on paper converted to online records in a new web catalog. Barbara Strauss and David Blum, catalogers for this project, started working on two tracks — working on the Research Library and working on the manuscript collections from the vaults.

As David worked his way through the Research Library collection, he integrated books from the Moravian Music Foundation with the books from the Southern Province Archive into one collection ordered by Library of Congress call numbers.  Each volume, however, retains a mark for the Archives or the Foundation.  David has found some real gems, which Nola Knouse will explore at one of the lunch lectures in the future.

Barbara worked with staff from Backstage Library Works in Provo, Utah as they converted the catalog records for the manuscripts and early music imprints.  This is a high-tech, high-touch job.  Barbara created specifications for each collection to create a consistent record with all the Moravian and musical points of identity. Catalog cards or book catalogs were scanned; catalogers at Backstage Library Works created records according to specifications; records were checked for quality assurance; finally the records were added to the largest library database in the world — WorldCat.org.  From WorldCat.org, the Foundation will create the new web catalog.

What will all this conversion work do?  There is not one answer to that question.  As this project progresses, we will discover many benefits to this conversion work.  Let me start with one. On the Foundation’s webpage Research at the Moravian Music Foundation, Nola discusses a broad array of research topics and approaches. All of this is based on the assets found in the Winston Salem and Bethlehem vaults.  This conversion work will facilitate research on these topics and topics we haven’t dreamed of yet.