A lovely CD by The New World String Orchestra and some fine vocalists, featuring works by Moravian composers in their proper place, leading the musical culture and language of America with powerful influences from Eastern Europe and thorough education and training in music.
The Flowering of Vocal Music in America – New World Records 80467
1978 ©1994 Recorded Anthology of American Music, Inc.
DAVID MORITZ MICHAEL
GEORG GOTTFRIED MUELLER
JOHANN FRIEDRICH PETER
The Moravians And Their Music by Edward A. Berlin
In 1870 a Moravian historian, in recounting his ancestors’ immigration from Germany to Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley 130 years earlier, revealed with unexpected simplicity the essence of this unique community. He noted that, because of the arduous journey through miles of unbroken wilderness, they brought with them only the barest essentials for their new life, “…their goods, their mechanical tools, and such musical instruments as they were accustomed to play in Europe.”
It was not the mere love of music that distinguished the Moravians. Musical activity was common to many colonial settlements, and if actual performances were often indifferent, this would not detract from the sincerity of the effort or from its spiritual benefits. But the musical life in Moravian communities differed significantly from the practices elsewhere in the colonies; only the Moravians had the collective desire, determination, and skills necessary to preserve and continue the fully mature musical culture known in Europe. In most of the Protestant colonies, church music was restricted to simple, unaccompanied congregational hymns or primitive (if ingenious) approximations of European vocal polyphony; music education was sporadic and haphazard, left to itinerant singing masters; concert music was the province of touring foreign virtuosos or newly arrived immigrants and performed under carnival-like conditions to draw a large but very discerning paying public.
In contrast, Moravian churches rang with fully concerted music of voices, strings, winds, and organ; musical training was an integral part of the educational system, assuring a constantly renewed supply of competent performers and European-style composers; concert music was a regular and familiar feature of life, so that the hills and forests surrounding Moravian communities echoed with the chamber, orchestral, and vocal music of Haydn, Mozart, and Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
As religion was the dominating feature of Moravian society, church music was central to its musical life. And music was more than an ornament to or respite within the service; it was so integral that to some superficial observers it seemed that the Moravians went to church not to pray but to sing. These observers failed to perceive that the musical liturgy was carefully organized to convey a spiritual message, that this medium of conveyance had an effect far more profound and lasting than a sermon delivered prosaically from a minister’s pulpit.
1978 ©1994 Recorded Anthology of American Music, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in USA. THE FLOWERING OF VOCAL MUSIC IN AMERICA 80467-2
The Artists (Disc 1)
Cynthia Clarey, Barbara Wallace, sopranos; D’Anna Fortunato, Evelyn Petros, mezzo-sopranos; Charles Bressler, tenor; Richard Anderson, baritone; Joseph McKee, bass; Harriet Wingreen, piano; Leonard Raver, organ.
The New World String Orchestra
Regis Iandiorio, first violin; Ariana Bronne, William Henry, Benjamin Hudson, Katsuko Esaki, Robin Bushman, Robert Rozek, violins; Hugh Loughran, Janet Lyman Hill, Daniel Avshalomov, violas; Lawrence Lenske, cello; John Vincent Carbone, bass; Andrew Raeburn, conductor.