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Grant number: RE-10032-70

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Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI 48824-3407)
Hans Nathan (Project Director: July 1970 to present)

William Billings: Complete Edition and Biography

Project 1) to seek documents and data relating to life and career of American 18th century composer, William Billings; 2) to prepare complete, critical edition of his music, including preface of historical and artisitic significance. In mid-18th century considerable number of composers in Northeast states represented first school of composers in this county whose work is indigenous. Billings (1746-1800) most admired and best know of these men, broke decisively with contemporary repertoire of sacred music imported from England. In keeping with aims of the young Republic, his psalm-tunes, and anthems and revolutionary songs had a simplicity and down-to-earth quality which made them the popular music of his time. With influx of European musicians in 1790s, Billings' music (and that of his American contemporaries) lost its appeal, was neglected during 19th century and rediscovered only in recent years. Work will contribute to re-evaluation of 18th century American music, illuminating a significant period of American civilization. Relates to Bicentennial. Funds for summer salary, copying supplies, travel to Library of Congress and various New England and New York depositiories of documents and manuscripts.

Project fields:
Music History and Criticism


Research Programs

Total amounts:
$9,617 (approved)
$9,617 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/1970 – 12/31/1971