American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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The New England

A Music Party
Paul Revere
"A Music Party"
Frontispiece engraving and
title page from William Billings,
The New England Psalm-Singer
Page 2
Boston, 1770
Music Division (24)

The development of music in the British colonies was closely linked with Protestant liturgy and its vocal accompaniment. William Billings, one of the first American-born composers, was an itinerant singing master who tutored the young of affluent families. He augmented his teaching wages by selling his own books of musical compositions for the voice, such as this manual introduced by Paul Revere's illustration of a music party. Revere's plate is one of the few surviving graphic representations of people making music in eighteenth-century America.

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