Herbst, Johannes

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Herbst, Johannes

Herbst, Johannes, German-American Moravian minister and composer; b. Kempten, Swabia, July 23, 1735; d. Salem, N.C., Jan. 15, 1812. He went to the U.S. in 1786 to serve as minister at Lancaster, Pa., and later at Lititz. In 1811 he was elevated to the episcopate and transferred to the Southern Province of the Moravian Church at Salem. When he emigrated to the U.S. he brought with him a large number of musical MSS, this being the practice of those traveling to the American Moravian settlements. During the following years, in which he was a performing musician, composer, and teacher, he added to his collection, copying MSS brought from Europe by other Moravians, and music composed by American Moravians; altogether there are almost 12, 000 pages in his hand, constituting the most extensive individual collection of 18th- and 19th-century Moravian (and non-Moravian) music in the U.S. The Herbst Collection is in the Archives of the Moravian Music Foundation in Winston-Salem, N.C., and is available on either microfiche or roll microfilm: A. 493 MS scores of about 1, 000 vocal-instrumental pieces (Congregation Music); B. 45 MS scores or parts of larger vocal works by C. P. E. Bach, Mozart, Haydn, and others, including Herbst and other Moravians; C. 6 miscellaneous vols, of keyboard works, texts, etc.; the entire collection totals 11, 676 pages. An itemized Catalog of the Johannes Herbst Collection, prepared by M. Gombosi, was publ. in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1970 and includes a biographical sketch of Herbst and a short history of the collection. Herbst was the most prolific of all the American Moravian composers, having to his credit some 127 choral anthems and songs. Many of his works show him to have been a highly skilled musical craftsman.


J. Falconer, Bishop J. H (1735–1812), An American Moravian Musician, Collector and Composer (2 vols., diss., Columbia Univ., 1969).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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