Organization Profile of the Moravian Music Foundation Inc.
Preserving, Sharing and Celebrating Moravian Musical Culture
a culture of joyful music making, musical excellence, and participation by all.
The Moravian Music Foundation was founded and chartered in North Carolina in 1956, by a group of clergy and laity of the Moravian Church, to preserve, study, edit and publish the music retained in the Archives of the Moravian Church in America, Northern and Southern Provinces.
The rediscovery of this music forms a vital link in the history of American music and culture. Since its establishment, MMF has acquired thousands of additional items, including the Irving Lowens Collection of early American tunebooks; the band books of the 26th North Carolina Regimental Band, and the entire collection of the works of North Carolina composers Charles G. Vardell and Margaret Vardell Sandresky, and North Carolina-born composer Charles Fussell. MMF is custodian of the George Hamilton IV collection.
The MMF is custodian of some 10,000 manuscripts and early imprints, which comprise music both by Moravian and non-Moravian composers; sacred and secular; American and European; vocal and instrumental. Approximately one-third of this collection is housed at the Foundation headquarters in Winston-Salem, NC; the remainder resides in the Moravian Archives, Northern Province in Bethlehem, PA.
The Moravian Music Foundation, an independent 501 (c) (3) nonprofit institution, preserves the music, preparing modern editions for publication and performance, and generally making it available for performers, churches, researchers, and scholars worldwide, as well as to encourage contemporary composition. MMF edits and publishes to encourage and facilitate the use of Moravian music (old and new) in worship, as well as chamber and concert settings.
Over 500 musical works have been edited for modern-day performance and an estimated two million copies are in circulation worldwide. MMF self-publishes instrumental music and has published over 100 anthems – archival music newly edited, new compositions by living composers, and arrangements – in its Moravian Star Anthem series. Some 40 orchestral works have been edited and placed in the Fleisher Collection of the Philadelphia Free Library, thus becoming available to orchestras nationwide.
MMF manages an extensive Lending Library of choral and instrumental music, with several hundred loans per year; the vast majority of these are loans to churches and schools not affiliated with the Moravian Church.
MMF has an extensive music reference library, and publishes and distributes modern sheet music editions of anthems, instrumental music, band books, as well as books about Moravian music. Many recordings of Moravian music have been produced and released by MMF, or by partners of MMF, and are available for sale online or at the Winston-Salem and Bethlehem offices.
MMF produces recordings of Moravian music for others to enjoy, no matter their location.
Items are available for purchase on this website, and MMF ships items anywhere.
Since its inception, hundreds of scholars have used MMF’s resources, including the archival collections of manuscripts, printed music, and books, and the 6000-volume research library, producing many scholarly editions articles, and dissertations. MMF’s resources are open to scholars and students world-wide.
A new resource was added in 2015. The MMF catalog of holdings in the larger collections have been uploaded to WorldCat.org and may be searched from anywhere at GEMEINKAT.
Moravian Music Festivals
Beginning with the 2013 Festival, the Foundation is responsible for organization, planning, management and artistic direction of the Festivals. The MMF staff works with a planning committee of volunteers and professional workshop and ensemble leaders, to create an enriching, spiritually and musically fulfilling, and motivating week-long experience for all ages and abilities.
The first “Early American Moravian Music Festival” was held in Bethlehem, PA, in 1950, conducted by Dr. Thor Johnson (who went on to conduct the first eleven Moravian Music Festivals). Other festivals and seminars followed, and in 2013, the 24th Moravian Music Festival was held in Bethlehem, PA. The 25th Festival was in Winston-Salem, NC, July 23-29, 2017. The 3rd international Unity Brass Festival was hosted by the North American Moravians and held in Winston-Salem, NC in July of 2018. The 26th Moravian Music Festival was held online, July 18 – 24, 2021 (due to the Covid pandemic), and held in-person in Bethlehem, PA, July 26-30, 2022. moravianmusicfestival.org
The Foundation serves as a resource for scholars, performers, and students worldwide, as well as for church musicians, Moravian and non-Moravian. MMF maintains calendars and information resources for musicians, researchers, and the general public.
The collections of the Moravian Music Foundation contain some 10,000 manuscripts and early imprints of vocal and instrumental music, sacred and secular, from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries. Not all of this was written by Moravian composers, but it is all music which the Moravians used and enjoyed. Included in the collections of the Moravian Music Foundation are works by Haydn and Mozart, J. C. Bach, Abel, Johann Stamitz, and a host of lesser-known composers. A number of these are the only known copies in the world. Over 40 orchestral works from the Foundation’s holdings have been edited and placed in the Fleisher Collection of the Philadelphia (PA) Free Library.String Quintet by JF Peter (1746-1813)
Since its establishment, the Foundation has acquired many additional items, including the Irving Lowens Collection of early American tunebooks; the band books of the 26th North Carolina Regimental Band (from the Civil War); and a reference library of over 6,000 volumes, specializing in Protestant church music and American music history.
The Moravian collections, then, provide a cross-section of classical musical culture, placing the masters in their proper historical perspective. The Moravian Music Foundation is responsible for many first modern-day performances of music from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Moravian music is alive and vibrant today!
Moravians are creating new anthems, new hymns, new songs for camp, new arrangements for various instruments in worship, new organ preludes, new handbell pieces, and new descants for hymns. Whereas, hymnals were published by North American and European Moravians and translated and shared with the world through missions and Unity efforts; now, more and more, North American and European congregations are absorbing and utilizing music and hymns from (or influenced by) a variety of musical cultures from throughout the worldwide Unity.
A Unity Songbook is on the project list of MMF. Staff and trustees are currently collecting submissions from around the world, in many languages and musical styles, to be published in a collection and distributed worldwide.
In the preface to Sing to the Lord a New Song: a New Moravian Songbook (NEW songs and hymns by Moravians), published by Moravian Music Foundation in 2013, it says:
The Christian church has been blessed with a marvelous flowering of creativity in song… each generation is called to find new expressions of faith, love, and hope. A constantly changing world calls for different images for God, expressions of Christian community, and challenges for Christian ministry and service.
Also NEW are anthems in the Moravian Star Anthem Series.
Both, New Editions of manuscripts in the vault,
and New Anthems by living Moravian composers.
Call 336-725-0651 for more information about how to order anthems.