Holyoke, Samuel (Adams)

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Holyoke, Samuel (Adams)

Holyoke, Samuel (Adams), American composer; b. Boxford, Mass., Oct. 15, 1762; d. East Concord, N.H., Feb. 7, 1820. His father was a clergyman, and Holyoke was naturally drawn to composing hymns. Although he received no formal training in music, he began to compose early, following his innate musical instinct. He wrote his most popular hymn tune, Arn-heim, when he was only 16. He attended Harvard Coll., graduating in 1789. In 1793 he organized a school of higher education, known as the Groton Academy (later Lawrence Academy). In 1800 he went to Salem, where he was active as a teacher; and also a member of the Essex Musical Assn. Holyoke was among those who did not favor the application of “fuging” tunes in sacred music, as advocated by Billings, and generally omitted that style of composition from his collections; in the preface to his Harmonia Americana he states his reason for this as being because of “the trifling effect produced by that sort of music; for the parts…confound the sense and render the performance a mere jargon of words,” His first collection was the Harmonia Americana (Boston, 1791), followed by The Massachusetts Compiler (co- ed. with Hans Gram and Oliver Holden; Boston, 1795), The Columbian Repository of Sacred Harmony (Exeter, N.H., 1802; contains 734 tunes, many of his own composition), The Christian Harmonist (Salem, 1804), and The Instrumental Assistant (2 vols., Exeter, 1800-07; includes instructions for violin, German flute, clarinet, bass viol, and hautboy). He also publ, the song Washington (1790), and Hark from the Tombs (music for the funeral of Washington; 1800).


J. Willhide, S. H, American Music-Educator (diss., Univ. of Southern Calif., 1954); R. Patterson, Three American “Primitives.” A Study of the Musical Styles ofS. H., Oliver Holden, and Hans Gram (diss., Washington Univ., 1963).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Holyoke, Samuel (Adams)

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