William Schultz’s Music Book

September 24, 2013

I love working in the Library. The library contains so much material that is yet to be explored. There are so many treasures. I’d like to spend a few minutes describing one of them.

Lately I have been working with a manuscript music book. The front cover has a small label with the inscription: The property of William Schultz 1851. The led naturally to determining just which William Schultz. WSchultz_02_Cover Inside_Web As you surely know, the name Schultz is ubiquitous among Schwenkfelders. Indeed there are several Schultz families, so tracking down which William Schultz seemed as though it would be thorny. Actually it wasn’t too difficult. The Genealogical Record of the Schwenkfelder Families (1923) contains only three William Schultzes who fell into that time period. One was the Schwenkfelder minister William Schultz (1806-1890), the second was William Schultz (1827-1913), and finally William Schultz (1836-1911). After other investigations I settled on the third William Schultz as the owner of this music book. The immigrant ancestor of this William was the renowned Schwenkfelder minister and community leader Christopher Schultz (1718-1789) who wrote the famous dairy of the trek from Berthelsdorf to Philadelphia. Christopher was his great grandfather. Otherwise, virtually nothing in known about this William Schultz.

Schwenkfelder manuscript books with musical notation are not common before the Civil War. The earliest are the Notenbüchlein, which were made in school and date from the 1790s. They contain hymns. The Schwenkfelders did not believe instrumental music, especially in the worship service. Many hymnals consisting of only hymn texts are extant, but not books of musical notation. In fact, the Schwenkfelders seem to have had distained instrumental music until the 1840s, when 14 year old David Anders formed a brass band in 1849. At first he was chastised, in a sermon no less, for the scandalous marching and playing of his band, but shortly thereafter the boys’ parents and even the minister permitted their activity.

WSchultz_11_WebWilliam Schultz’ music book is one of the earliest Schwenkfelder examples of secular dance tunes, doubtless for fiddle. There are 35 tunes in this collection, including marches, waltzes, reels, hornpipes, and quickstep among others. The tune Blue Eyed Mary was very popular at the time. A little notation next to the title is “by William Schultz 1856”. He was certainly not the creator of this tune, but perhaps this is his own variation. More research is needed to clarify this. Some of the tunes show the popularity of Irish fiddle music in this area of Pennsylvania: “Miss McLeod’s Reel or Did You Ever See the Devil Uncle Joe?”, “Irish Washer Woman”, “Rory O’More ”, and “Lord McDonald’s Reel”. Also include are Rickett’s Hornpipe and Fischer’s Hornpipe, the second of which has several words of the dance call:  “First couple down the outside, back, down the middle, back, cast off, swing right and left…” There are also several popular patriotic pieces: “Hail to the Chief”, “Washington Crossing the Delaware”, and “Hail Columbia”.

William Schultz’ music book is a treasure for its popular dance and patriotic tunes of the day and for an indication of how Schwenkfelders were coming more and more into contact with the popular culture around them.


About schwenkfelder

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Schwenkfelders and the history of southeastern Pennsylvania and the Perkiomen Region. The Heritage Center offers educational programming and tours, exhibits, workshops, and events throughout the year. Our blog is maintained by museum educator, Rebecca Lawrence, SLHC staff and guest bloggers.
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