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Grant number like: FEL-267903-20

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Peter Jameson Mercer-Taylor
University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN 55455-2009)

Research Programs

[Grant products]

$30,000 (approved)
$30,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2020 – 12/31/2020

Classical Music in Pre-Civil War American Hymnody: A Digital Anthology for Listening and Singing

Preparation of an open-access digital anthology of almost 300 hymn melodies published in the United States before 1861 derived from European classical music.

In the decades leading up to the Civil War, American compilers of sacred tune books crafted hundreds of hymn tunes from melodic stretches of European classical music. Hymn tunes being the best-selling genre of music in the U.S. at the time, it was through these melodies that many Americans first encountered classical music. This repertoire has all but vanished today, and has been only very fleetingly explored by scholars. The website proposed here will provide an online anthology of 276 pre-Civil War hymn tunes that borrow material from Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and other European composers, culled from over 70 antebellum American publications. Modern scores and recorded piano renditions will be provided, but the website will also offer a platform for sharing recordings of these tunes by whatever ensembles choose to submit them, forming a growing, crowdsourced repository of performances that, it is hoped, might serve as a hub for the reclamation of this repertoire in modern musical life.