Penn Library Department of Special Collections

William Penn

Keffer Collection of Sheet Music,
ca. 1790-1895

Content and design by John Bewley

Collection History
Guide Statistics
Focus on Philadelphia
Composers Publishers Lithographers Imagesand Music
List of Topics
Related Resources

Philadelphia Composers: James Hemmenway (1800-1849)

James Hemmenway, composer and band leader, was born in Philadelphia and led a successful musical career there as one of the first generation of African-American musicians in the United States. Hemmenway may have performed as a member of Frank Johnson's popular band, but eventually his own band was in competition with Johnson's ensemble. In 1824 Hemmenway's band was one of the groups that performed at the festivities held in honor of General Lafayette's return to Philadelphia. Hemmenway's band performed at many other functions in the city, including concerts of sacred music at local African-American churches. The band had a permanent home at Washington Hall, located at Third Street near Spruce Street.

Compositions by Hemmenway in the Collection

Item No.TitleImprintPlate No.Illustration
Box 34
no. 8
The Fifth Set of Quadrilles / composed for the piano forte by James Hemmenway, leader of the orchestra at Washington Hall, Philada. Philadelphia : Geo. Willig, 1828 None None
Box 11
no. 59
Philada. Serenading Grand March : arranged for the piano forte with an accompaniment for the flute or violin / by J. Hemmenway Philadelphia : Geo. Willig, between 1826 and 1830 None None
Box 39a
no. 40
The Philadelphia Hop Waltz / as performed by Hemmenway's Band at the Washington Hall, and respectfully dedicated to the ladies of Philadelphia by J. Hemmenway Philadelphia : Geo. Blake, between 1815 and 1841 None None


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