New Records from the Moravian Music Foundation now in RISM

Barbara Strauss

Monday, July 13, 2020

We have received the following from Barbara Strauss, Moravian Music Foundation (Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA). The Salem Collegium Musicum Collection is now in RISM (library siglum: US-WS).

The Salem Collegium Musicum collection includes primarily instrumental chamber and small-orchestra music, as well as some oratorios, vocal collections, keyboard music and band music. The majority of pieces, both manuscript and printed, are by European composers active in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Salem, North Carolina, was founded by Moravian settlers primarily from Germany by way of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This was the third intentional community established by the Moravians in North Carolina. The first, Bethabara, in the northwestern part of what is now Forsyth County, was founded in 1753; the second, Bethania, farther to the northwest, was established in 1759. The building of Salem was begun in 1766, and the Moravians’ central North Carolina administration was moved to Salem in 1771. Most Moravian settlements from the mid-eighteenth century forward established a Collegium musicum based on the earlier European concept of an amateur association for the practice and performance of chamber and orchestra music.

Part of the purpose of such an organization, for the Moravians, was to give the musicians opportunity to hone their skills for participation in the many worship services held as central to the life of the community. The Collegium Musicum der Gemeine in Salem was in existence as early as 1781, although instrumental music seems already to have been a part of the community’s life. By 1788 the Salem Collegium musicum had at least three violins, two violas, three cellos, a flute, two horns, and two clarini. The Collegium was apparently under the leadership of the same music director who had charge of the congregation music (the sacred vocal music intended for use in worship).

Most of these musical leaders added personal copies of pieces to the collection; in addition, receipts and ledger books indicate payment of several copyists to add items to the collection, as well as the purchase of some printed music. Music was added to the collection over some sixty years, from around 1780 to around 1840. In Salem as well as in other Moravian settlements, by the late 1830s, the Collegium musicum had lost much of its original character, as, during the 1830s, the appeal of the large public concert gradually took precedence over the more intimate character of the Collegium musicum. The term Collegium musicum was replaced in receipts and account books of the 1830s by the term Musik Gesellschaft or Musical Society.

The Salem Collegium Musicum collection consists of more than 580 compositions, of which about 150 are in manuscript form. The collection is heavily weighted toward chamber music; even those works which appear to be orchestral music are intended for a small chamber orchestra, providing internal evidence that the group was small for most of its existence. This predilection for chamber music is further exemplified by the inclusion of items such as a string quintet arrangement of Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten and a quartet arrangement of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

Included are at least 33 manuscripts copied by Johann Friedrich Peter (1746-1813; music director in Salem 1780-1790) during his time at the Moravian seminary in Barby, Germany (1765-69), among them works by Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, Johann Ernst Bach, Franz Bech, Nathanael G. Gruner, Leopold Hofmann, Franz Joseph Haydn, Joseph Riepel, and Johann Stamitz. From his arrival in America in 1770 through the conclusion of his service at Salem in 1790, Peter copied and added to the Salem collection works by Carl Friedrich Abel, Johann Daniel Grimm, Karl Heinrich Graun, Michael Haydn, Ignaz Pleyel, and others. Much later additions to the collection were Peter’s copies of works by Adalbert Gyrowetz and Johann Meder, made in 1797 or later.

During the last decade of the eighteenth century and the first decade of the nineteenth, both early-Classic and Romantic printed music began to be imported to Salem in significant amounts. This printed music represents at least 38 identifiable publishing firms. While a number of publishers are represented by the inclusion of a single publication, those most frequently encountered are Johann André, Breitkopf & Härtel, Robert Birchall, Hummel, B. Schotts Söhne, and Simrock.

Composed primarily of chamber and orchestral music, the collection also includes oratorios, vocal collections, keyboard music and band music. With few exceptions, the music is almost exclusively in parts rather than score format, and their physical condition indicates that these parts were indeed used. Many of the manuscripts bear notations of past performances. The vast majority of composers represented are European. There is no known catalog of the collection made during the years of its active creation and use. Some items in the collection do bear numbers; however, the largest number is 106; there are large gaps in the numbers; and the same number appears on as many as four different items, lessening the value of this ordering system in any current cataloging.

Researchers interested in this archive may also wish to consult the following resources:

The Music of the Moravian Church in America, edited by Nola Reed Knouse. Rochester, New York, The University of Rochester Press, © 2008.

The Collegium Musicum Salem, 1780-1790: Origins and Repertoire, by Thomas J. Anderson. Ph.D. Dissertation, Florida State University, 1976.

The Collegium Musicum Salem: The Development of a Catalogue of Its Library and the Editing of Selected Works, by Charles F. Rierson, Jr. Ed.D. Dissertation, University of Georgia, 1973.

“The Moravians in America: Preservers of a Musical Heritage,” by Jeannine S. Ingram. Moravian Music Foundation Bulletin XX, no. 2 (Fall-Winter 1977), pp. 2-6.

“Repertory and Resources of the Salem Collegium Musicum, 1780-1790,” by Jeannine S. Ingram. Fontes Artis Musicae Vol. 26 no. 4 (October-December 1979), pp. 267-281.

“Reflections on the Salem Collegium Musicum,” by Jeannine S. Ingram. Moravian Music Foundation Bulletin Vol. XX no. 1 (Spring-Summer 1975), pp. 8-11.

Image : Johann Ernst Bach, Symphony in B-flat major (cover, 1st page of 1st violin). Moravian Music Foundation, Archie K. Davis Center, Winston-Salem, NC (US-WS) SCM 123. RISM ID no. 240643.

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