How was the Moravian musical heritage preserved and rediscovered in America?
By the middle and later nineteenth century, the Moravian settlements were not as isolated as in earlier years. As more music became more readily available, and with the increasing use of English in place of German-language works, the Moravian-written music was less and less used. As the music was less used, it was not thrown out, but rather stored in boxes, crates, cabinets, attics, basements, and so on.
In the 1930’s and 1940’s some of this music was uncovered, and as research began it became apparent that this was a treasure store. 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 1956 the Moravian Music Foundation, an independent 501 (c) (3) nonprofit institution, was chartered for the purpose of preserving 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.
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