Beginning in the 1730s, the German-Moravian church established a transnational network of mission communities across the Atlantic world—the most successful Protestant mission of the eighteenth century. The first Moravian missionaries arrived in the British-controlled Pennsylvania colony in the early 1740s, and soon founded the communities of Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Gnadenhütten, among others. This presentation explores the Moravian Soundscapes project, an interactive series of sound maps that document and reconstruct the soundscapes and musical practices of eighteenth-century Moravian mission communities in eastern Pennsylvania. Understanding the sonic histories of these communities provides new insights into the ways that music and sound functioned as a site of cultural encounter between European missionaries and Indigenous communities in early America, demonstrating the rich and multifaceted meanings that eighteenth-century music and history hold for contemporary Americans.
This lecture is presented by the Baylor School of Music and the Center for Christian Music Studies.