The Continental Harmony, Containing a Number of Anthems, Fuges, and Chorusses, in Several Parts. Never Before Published. Composed by -- Author of Various Music Books. [...] Published According to Act of Congress. William Billings.
Collection of Anthems By The Father of American Choral Music

The Continental Harmony, Containing a Number of Anthems, Fuges, and Chorusses, in Several Parts. Never Before Published. Composed by -- Author of Various Music Books. [...] Published According to Act of Congress.

Boston: Printed, Typographically at Boston by Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer T. Andrews. Sold at their Bookstore, No. 45, Newbury Street; by said Thomas in Worcester; and by the Booksellers in Boston, and elsewhere, 1794. First edition of Billing’s last work. Letterpress pages. In contemporary paper boards, restored. xxxiv, (1), 36–199, (1) p. Without the engraved frontispiece as most copies. General usual browning, moderate stains, primarily through the introductory section, somewhat darker in the final fifteen pages, the penultimate leaf with worming extending just into the lower line of music, the final leaf torn and with the top of music mostly perished. Approximately five other pages with tears or small worm holes in the margins, none which affecting the music.

Final collection published by the father of American choral music. Published in Boston by Thomas and Andrews in 1794, it was sponsored by several musical societies to help the "distressed situation of Mr. Billings' family." The fifty-one compositions with full text include one set-piece for four voices, seventeen anthems, and poems and hymns by Isaac Watts, the «Father of English Hymnody», among them the renowned «Creation» (pp. 52–54). The tune book has an introductory section on the rudiments of music and a commentary on the rules in the form of a dialogue between a master and scholar. "In its introduction, Billings defended his rustic native style in the face of the public's increasing preference for the more refined, less demanding European idiom. 'Variety is always pleasing, and...there is more variety in one piece of fuging music, than in twenty pieces of plain song.'" (John Ogasapian, "Music of the Colonial & Revolutionary Era," p. 140)

“The […] last of his publications contains longer, more complex works intended for the knowledgeable choirs and singing societies. In none of the pieces is originality sought. Nevertheless, the sound is a counterpart of the rocky soil and questing spirit that typified many of his contemporary New Englanders. Billings's music held the attention of music lovers for its melodic expression, effortless vitality, and suitability to the requirements and limitations of amateur singers. No matter what the vocal part, it is not hard to sing and enjoy. All the singers are given interesting lines to engage their attention. If some of the notes in a part do not please, the composer occasionally offers the singer 'choosing' notes from which he or she can select." (Nicholas Tawa, "From Psalm to Symphony," p. 37-38)

"In early 1782, of the 264 musical compositions published by American-born writers, 226 of them were by Billings. Of the 200 anthems published in America by 1810, over a quarter were written by Billings.” (Elizabeth Axford, “Song Sheets to Software” p, 5.)

Rare. OCLC records only six copies and none outside the United States. Sabin 5415, Evans 26673, RISM, A/I/1, B2655, Britton & Lowens 104.

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Price: €8,000.00

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