Music of Pennsylvania

From Academic Kids

Template:USstatesmusic The most famous musical innovaters to come out of Pennsylvania are perhaps the Philly sound in 1970s soul music, Gamble & Huff, The O'Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, Harold Melvin and The Delphonics, as well as jazz legends like Nina Simone and John Coltrane.

Following the American Revolution, Philadelphia became especially renowned for musical development and was the home of the esteemed Alexander Reinagle, John Christopher Moller, Rayner Taylor and Susannah Haswell Rowson. Reinagle became the most influential figure in Philadelphia's musical life, organizing a number of concerts, organizations and musical events. Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a notable composer of the period. One of his compositions, "My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free", is well-remembered as the first art song from the United States (though this is disputed); it is, however, lacking in originality and innovation to set it apart from European compositions.

During the 19th century, Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania became the birthplace of Stephen Foster, easily the most popular American songwriter of the century.


Religious music in the colonial era

Main article: Music of the United States before 1900

Rural Pennsylvania in the colonial era was home to religious minorities like the Quakers, as well as important Moravian and Lutheran communities. While the Quakers had few musical traditions, Protestant churches frequently made extensive use of music in worship J. F. Peter emerged from the Moravian tradition, while Conrad Beissel (founder of the Ephrata Cloister) innovated his own system of harmonic theory. The Lutheran traditions of Johann Sebastian Bach, Buxtehude, Johann Pachelbel and Walther were propagated in Pennsylvania, and the city of Bethlehem remains a center of Lutheran musical traditions today.


Main article: Mennonite

The Mennonites, followers of Menno Simon, settled in Germantown after emigrating from the German Palatinate and Switzerland between 1683 and 1748. They were led by Willem Rittinghuysen (grandfather of astronomer and mathematician David Rittenhouse). The Mennonites used a hymnbook from Schaffhausen, reprinted in Germantown in 1742 as Der Ausbund" Das ist etliche schöne christliche Lieder.

Ephrata Cloister

Main article: Ephrata Cloister

The Ephrata Cloister (Community of the Solitary) was founded in what is now Lancaster County on the Cocalico River in 1720. This was a group of Seventh-Day Baptists led by Peter Miller and Conrad Beissel, who believed in using music as an integral part of worship. Beissel codified the Ephrata Cloister's unique tradition in his Beissel's Dissertation on Harmony; here, he divided notes into two types. These were masters, or notes belonging to the common chord, and servants, or all other notes. Accented syllables in Beissel's works always fell on master notes, leaving servant notes for unaccented syllables. The Ephrata Cloister's hymnbook was large, consisting of more than 1,000 hymns, many of which were accompanied by instruments including the violin. Many of these hymns were published in the 1740s and 50s.

Moravian Church

Main article: Moravian Church

Founded in 1457, the Moravian Church originally spread across Moravia, Poland and Bohemia before persecution forced the remaining faithful to Saxony, where they lived under the protection of Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. Zinzendorf wrote hymns, and led the Moravians to America, where they began missionary work in Georgia but with little success. They moved on to Pennsylvania, and founded the town of Bethlehem on the banks of the Lehigh River. A group then left for Salem, North Carolina (now a part of Winston-Salem).

Both in Salem and Bethlehem, Moravians continued to use music in their ceremonies. Instruments included organs and trombones, and voices were usually in choirs. Players generally played on rooftops for most any occasion, ensuring that they could be heard for great distances. A legend has arisen claiming that a group of Native American warriors approachied a Moravian settlement during the French and Indian War, but left after hearing a trombone choir because they believed it to be the voice of their Great Spirit. Moravians were devoted to missionary work, especially among African slaves and Native Americans; in 1763, they published a collection of hymns in the Delaware language.

Moravians also had a tradition of secular art music that included the famed composer Johann Friedrich Peter, who was a German born in Holland who emigrated to Bethlehem in 1770. He brought with him copies of compositions by Joseph Haydn, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, Johann Stamitz and C. F. Abel. After living in Bethlehem for a time, Peter moved to Salem, where he founded the Collegium Musicum (in 1786) and collected hundreds of symphonies, anthems and oratorios. It was during this period that Peter also composed a number of well-respected instrumental pieces for twio violins, two violas and a cello; he also composed sacred anthems like "It Is a Precious Thing" and arias like "The Lord Is in His Holy Temple".

The Moravian Church continued to produce a number of renowned composers into the 19th century, including John Antes as well as Francis F. Hagen, Johann Christian Bechler, Edward W. Leinbach, Simon Peter, David Moritz Michael, Georg Gottfried Müller, Peter Wolle, Jeremiah Dencke and Johannes Herbst. Herbst was also a noted collector, whose archives, left to the Salem church after his death, were made public in 1977; these included more than 11,000 pages of content. Salem has gradually become the center for Moravian musical innovation, partially due to the presence of the Moravian Music Foundation.


Main article: Pietism

In 1694, Johannes Kelpius brought a group of German Pietists to the bands of the Wissahickon River. These became known as the Hermits or Mystics of the Wissahickon. Kelpius was himself a musician, and he and his followers brought with them instruments that became an integral part of church life. In 1703, Justus Falckner was ordained as pastor of the Gloria Dei Church; Falckner evidently believed that music was a very important element of missionary work, writing to Germany to ask for an organ, which he said would attract more Native American converts. Falckner was a Lutheran who wrote hymns such as "Rise, Ye Children of Salvation". Kelpius was also a composer, and is sometimes called the first Pennsylvanian composer, based on his unproven authorship of several hymns in The Lamenting Voice of the Hidden Love. It is likely that he wrote the text, though the tunes are mostly based on German songs; the English translations in the collection are attributed to Christopher Witt, an Englishman who immigrated and joined the mystics, also building the a pipe organ, said to be the fist privately-owned organ in North America.

Punk rock

Philadelphia had a flourishing New Wave scene that included local acts The Vels, Executive Slacks and Regressive Aid. Hardcore punk had a significant scene as well, led by Sadistic Exploits along with MCRAD, Electric Love Muffin, Autistic Behavior and Informed Sources. Later bands like Zen Guerilla and Dead Milkmen gained some national success. Flag of Democracy have released seven albums since 1982 and toured the world.

Harrisburg's The Outrage and Pittsburgh's Real Enemy had a local hardcore following as well.

Will Smith is also from Philadelphia.


Blush, Steven. American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Feral House. 2001. ISBN 0-922915-717-7


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