Penn Library

Hidden in Plain Sight:
Musical Treasures in the Penn Library

Curated by Marjorie Hassen

Otto E. Albrecht Music Library
University of Pennsylvania

Manuscript Collections: Individuals

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Pennsylvania is home to the personal papers of many significant performing arts and literary professionals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Their correspondence and memorabilia document a variety of connections among artistic contemporaries. While it may be obvious to research the life and career of Marian Anderson in the Marian Anderson Papers, it may be less obvious that you will find correspondence from the British actor, Basil Rathbone, in her collection.

Table of Contents
Manuscript Collections:
Sheet Music
Conducting Scores
Music Manuscripts:
15th-18th Centuries
Music Manuscripts:
19th & 20th Centuries
Landmarks of Music Theory

Anthony Philip Heinrich Autograph Letter to John Rowe Parker
31 August 1820
Ms. Coll. 186, Folder 142

Born in Bohemia in 1781, Anthony Philip Heinrich spent time in America in the early years of the 19th century in an effort to establish himself as a businessman. After several unsuccessful attempts he turned to a career in music. Although he had little formal musical training, Heinrich developed a wide-reaching reputation as a composer and violinist, performing in Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, where he eventually settled in 1837. His prominence among active music circles led him to be called "the Beethoven of America" by New York critics in the 1840s and to be considered America's first "professional" composer.

In this letter Heinrich writes to John Rowe Parker, a Boston music dealer and the founder of the Euterpeiad, a weekly music magazine published from 1820 to 1823. Each issue of the magazine included both musical anecdotes and serious commentary on music publications and performances, primarily in the Boston area. He thanks Parker for publishing the preface from his 1820 work, The Dawning of Music in Kentucky, at the same time commenting on the current state of music in America and his own difficulties in securing support for his composing. He writes:

In publishing my humble innocent Firstlings I have acted with every liberal sentiment in view. From a sincere attachment to America my newly adopted Country especially Kentucky, thought I proper to exert myself in order to prove an honest warm hearted spirited national Minstrel. Small indeed is the number of composers in our young musical Commonwealth. Not one yet, I presume has here stept forward to produce a Volume of Compositions, presented in a Toute ensemble of Varieties of any Magnitude, and calculated to travel or exhibit itself abroad . . .

Last update: Monday, 03-Feb-2003 11:09:49 EST
Send mail concerning this page to: