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Samuel Babcock (1760-1813), Archetypal Psalmondist of the First New England School of Composers

The life, musical activities, compositions, and musical relationships of the Boston-area composer Samuel Babcock (1760-1813) make him an archetypal psalmodist active during the period from 1790 to 1810. Research on early American Protestant sacred music to date has focused on the major composers and compilers of the period such as William Billings and Andrew Law, and on indexing the repertory. This dissertation approaches the topic from a different historiographical perspective, measuring Babcock against the criteria suggested by musicologist Nym Cooke for a composer more typical of the First New England School.
Part I of the dissertation establishes the facts of Babcocks life, analyzes and describes his music, and documents the distribution of his works. His fourth cousin, psalmodist Lemuel Babcock (1748-1835), provides a point of comparison. Samuel Babcock, active during the reform of sacred music at the turn of the nineteenth century, composed music strongly influenced by British Methodist-style psalmody. He selected sacred poetry that inspired him musically, and paid careful attention to text setting. Both Babcocks are remembered as singers, singing masters, choir leaders, and composers. However, Samuel Babcocks music is more modern than his cousins. This study of musical style and other evidence suggests that the few pieces first printed with the ambiguous attribution Babcock are very likely by Lemuel Babcock. Part II is a critical edition of both composers complete works.
Date30 September 2009
CreatorsSampsel, Laurie J.
ContributorsDon O. Franklin, Mary S. Lewis, Deane L. Root, Karl D. Kroeger
PublisherUniversity of Pittsburgh
Source SetsUniversity of Pittsburgh
Detected LanguageEnglish
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