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First New England School

This label refers to the first group of native-born composers and tune compilers active in New England between about 1770 and 1810. William Billings*, who was deemed the unofficial leader of the school, published his ground-breaking tune collection The New-England Psalm-Singer (Boston, 1770). In addition to being the first collection of tunes composed by a single American composer, this book considerably influenced American compositional activity in the decades to come. Billings had many disciples, but Daniel Read*, Oliver Holden*, Stephen Jenks*, and Timothy Swan (1758-1842) are considered the most notable. Most of these early American composers lacked formal training and were essentially...

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