Keffer Collection of Sheet Music,
Benjamin Carr, composer, organist, and music publisher, was born in London on September 12, 1768. Carr's father, Joseph, published and sold music from an establishment at Middle Row, Holborn in London starting in 1770. Benjamin gained his early experience in the music business and as an engraver working for his father. He studied music in London with three notable church musicians, Dr. Samuel Arnold, and Charles and Samuel Wesley. Carr emigrated to the United States in 1793 at the age of twenty-four. His father and brother Thomas followed in the next year.
The Carr family put their experience in the music business to use in America. Joseph and Thomas started a music store and a music publishing firm in Baltimore upon their arrival there in 1794. Joseph continued publishing until his death in 1819 when Thoma s took over the operation of the business. He closed the Baltimore business in 1822 and moved to Philadelphia where he ran another music publishing firm between 1824 and 1827.
Benjamin Carr began his own music-selling and music publishing firm in Philadelphia, with a branch office in New York. He became the most important and prolific music publisher in the United States in the 1790s. In 1797 he sold the New York operation to J ames Hewitt. From 1803 to 1811 Carr was partners with George Schetky, a local violoncellist and composer. The firm of Carr & Schetky issued the final volumes of The Musical Journal for the Piano Forte. The first two volumes, issued weekly for twenty-four weeks during the winter and spring, were published by Joseph Carr in Baltimore in 1800 to 1801 with Benjamin acting as musical editor. It was the most ambitious musical publication issued in America during the period and the first major Ameri can music publication offered in magazine form. Benjamin Carr left the publishing business for several years until resuming operation in 1822 or 1823 in order to complete another of his father's serial publications, Carr's Musical Miscellany in Occa sional Numbers, which Joseph had begun in 1812. Benjamin Carr continued to publish music sporadically until 1831.
Carr was also very active as a performer and composer in Philadelphia. He was the organist at St. Augustine's Catholic Church from 1801 to 1831 and also at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. In 1794 to 1795 Carr performed as actor and singer with the Old Ameri can Company in New York. Carr's compositional output includes 275 secular works and 85 sacred works, including hymns, psalms, anthems, masses, and chants. He was also interested in music pedagogy and produced three instructional works, The Analytic al Instructor (1826), Lessons and Exercises in Vocal Music (1811), and Short Methods of Modulating from One Key to Another (n.d.).
In 1794 Carr composed his Federal Overture. The work was first performed in Philadelphia on September 22, 1794. It is interesting for its potpourri-like inclusion of famous tunes, including Yankee Doodle, Marseilles, The President's March, and Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be?. The publication of the work in 1795 represents the first printing of Yankee Doodle in America. Carr's interest in the theater is evident in his compositio n of the musical drama, The Archers, or The Mountaineers of Switzerland. The libretto for this work was written by William Dunlap and was based on the legend of William Tell. It received its first performance at the John Street Theater in New York on April 18, 1796. It is considered to be the first musical drama written by Americans to be professionally performed in the United States. Only two excerpts survive from the score: Why, Huntress, Why? and the Rondo from th e overture.
Benjamin Carr was one of the founders of the Musical Fund Society in 1820. When he died in 1831 the members of the society had a monument erected in his honor in the churchyard of St. Peter's Episcopal Church. The inscription on the monument reads:
Charitable, without ostentation,
faithful and true in his friendships,
with the intelligence of a man
he united the simplicity of a child.
In testimony, of the high esteem in which he
was held, this monument is erected
by his friends and associates of the
Musical Fund Society
There are thirty-nine scores by Benjamin Carr in the collection and two manuscript scores that were removed to the Keffer Collection of Music Manuscripts. There are approximately sixty-eight itmes in the collection published by Carr, including those works
issued by himself and others in a number of series. These include Gentleman's Amusement (No. 7 is in the collection), Musical Journal for the Piano Forte (six works in the collection), Carr's Musical Miscellany (for
ty-one titles in the collection), and Musical Journal Instrumental Section (seven titles in the collection) and Musical Journal Vocal Section.
|Item No.||Title||Imprint||Plate No.||Illustration|
|As Pants the Hart : solo, from the 42 psalm / composed for the piano forte by the late Benjamin Carr||Philadelphia : published for T. Carr by Miller & Osbourn, 1832 or 1833||None||None|
|Book 2d, of Musical Bagatelles : sixteen easy songs, to which are added three hymns calculated for piano forte pupils : op. XIII / arranged by B. Carr||Philadelphia : printed for B. Carr, 1822?||None||None|
|Carr's Canzonetts op. 14 : in six numbers||Philadelphia : T. Carr's Music Store. 1824||None||None|
|The Copenhagen Waltz : arranged with variations for the harp / by B. Carr
Carr's autograph inscription on title page: "Miss Oldmixon, with B. Carr's best wishes"
|Baltimore : J. Carr, 1816?||None||None|
|Di Tanti Palpiti, or Hail to the Happy Day : arranged as a rondo for the piano forte : also with an accompaniment for the flute or violin composed expressly for these numbers / by B. Carr||Philadelphia : B. Carr, 1823||None||None|
|A Divertisement on the Favorite Air of The Plow Boy : for the piano forte / composed by Benjamin Carr
Carr's autograph inscription on title page: "For Miss Kernig [?] from B. Carr"
|Baltimore : J. Carr, 1818?||None||None|
|The Drum : a favorite song, sung with universal approbation by Mr. Braham / arranged with symphonies and accompaniments for the piano forte by Benjamin Carr||Philadelphia : G. Willig, 1825||None||None|
|Ms. Coll. 126 |
|Ellen Arise : for [Mrs.] Mann with the composer's compts. / B. Carr||Holograph||None||None|
|Erin Go Bragh, or The Exile of Erin / music by B. Carr||Philadelphia : B. Carr, 1801 or 1802||None||None|
|The History of England from the Close of the Saxon Heptarchy to the Declaration of American Independence : in familiar verse : op. XI / adapted to music by B. Carr||Baltimore : printed by J. Carr, 1814?||None||None|
|A Hymn for Chrsitmas : subject from Handel / by B. Carr||Baltimore : J. Carr, 1819?||None||None|
|In Vain is the Verdure of Spring : a new song / composed by Mr. Carr ; the words by Mrs. I. Rowson||Philadelphia : G. Willig, between 1799 and 1802||None||None|
|The Little Sailor Boy : a ballad : sung at the theatres & other public places in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York &c. by Messrs. J. Darley, Williamson, Miss Broadhurst, Mrs. Hodgkinson & Mrs. Oldmixon / [words] wr itten by Mrs. Rowson ; composed by B. Carr||Philadelphia : Carr's Musical Repository, 1798||None||None|
|Ms. Coll. 126 |
|[Little Sailor Boy] Her Much Lov'd Little Sailor Boy / words by Mrs. Rowson ; for Mrs. Mann, with composer's compts., B. Carr||Holograph||None||None|
|The Maid of Lodi : with variations / by B. Carr||Baltimore : Carr's Music Store, ca. 1812||None||None|
|Moonlight at Sea / words by J. H. Payne ; music by B. Carr||[S.l. : s.n.], 1819?||None||None|
|The Pianoforte Waltz / composed by B. Carr||Philadelphia : printed for the author, 1824 or 1825||None||None|
|The Poor Flower Girl / words by Holcroft ; music by B. Carr||Baltimore : J. Carr's Musical Repository, 1801 or 1802||None||None|
|Rondo : performed at the Philadelphia Harmonick Society / Carr||Philadelphia : Carr & Schetky, 1801 or 1802||None||None|
|The Siege of Tripoli : an historical naval sonata for the piano forte / composed by B. Carr||Philadelphia : Carr & Schetky, 1804 or 1805||None||Frigate Constellation attacking a Tripolitan fort|
|Thy Fatal Shafts / the words by Sappho ; the music an English melody arranged with an accompaniment for the harp or piano forte by B. Carr||Philadelphia : printed for B. Carr||None||None|
|Thy Smiles Are All Decaying Love : a ballad / the poetry by Percival ; the music by B. Carr||Philadelphia : B. Carr, 1824?||None||None|
|The Wreath of Roses : a new song / the words by M. Fortune ; the music by B. Carr||Philadelphia : G. Willig's music store, 1816 or 1817||None||Title set within a wreath of roses|
|Item No.||Title||Imprint||Plate No.||Illustration|
|The Analytical Instructor : for the piano forte : in three parts, op. 15 / by B. Carr||Philadelphia : B. Carr, 1826||None||Woman seated at a spinet piano / J. C. Darley pinx. ; E. Hamm sc.|
|Lessons & Exercises in Vocal Music : op. VIII / by Benjamin Carr||Baltimore : printed and sold at Carr's Music Store, 1811||None||None|
|Sacred Harmony : a selection of airs, duos, trios &c., arranged for the organ, piano forte or harp||Philadelphia? :Carr & Schetky?, 1803 or 1804||None||Two angels in flight before clouds and rays, holding above them a banner bearing the words "Laus Deo" and below them a harp / D. Edwin sculpt.; Volozan del.|
|Vocal Instruction / [compiled possibly by Benjamin Carr]||S.l. : s.n., ca. 1806||None||None|
|Philadelphia Music Publishers|