“Singstücke beym Clavier zu Singen” leads to Newberry Library

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

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

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

Title on source: [cover title:] Charlotte L. | Schropp’s | Music Book. | 7.th March. 1800.
Material: • score: 16f.
Manuscript: 1800 (1800); 17,5 x 24 cm
This collection is at the Newberry Library in Chicago!

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

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

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

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

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.