Peter, John Frederick (actually, Johann Friedrich)

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Peter, John Frederick (actually, Johann Friedrich)

Peter, John Frederick (actually, Johann Friedrich) significant American Moravian violinist, organist, and composer, brother of Simon Peter; b. Heerendijk, the Netherlands (of German parents), May 19, 1746; d. Bethlehem, Pa., July 13, 1813. He was educated in the Netherlands and Germany, then went to the U.S. in 1770. He served the Moravian Church in various capacities in the Pa. communities of Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Lititz (until 1780), then in Salem, N.C., until 1790. He spent the rest of his life mostly in Bethlehem as organist of the church. He is widely considered the greatest of the American Moravian composers. His collection of copies of instrumental works by Stamitz, J.C.R Bach, J.C. Bach, Abel, Boccherini, and Haydn (preserved in the Archives of the Moravian Church) proves his knowledge of contemporary music. Among his compositions are 105 concerted anthems (he excelled in the genre) and solo songs. While in Salem, he completed (1789) a set of 6 quintets for 2 Violins, 2 Violas, and Cello (his only secular works), which are the oldest preserved examples of chamber music composed in America. His MSS are preserved in the Archives of the Moravian Church in Bethlehem and the Moravian Foundation in Winston-Salem, N.C.


W. Schnell, The Choral Music of Johann Friedrich P. (diss., Univ. of III., 1973); C. Crews, J. F. P. and His Times (Winston- Salem, N.C, 1990).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Peter, John Frederick (actually, Johann Friedrich)

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