Billings, William

(7 October 1746, Boston – 26 September 1800, Boston)
   Influential composer of early American sacred music, almost all written for unaccompanied choir of four voices. His pieces exploit three contrasting vocal textures: unison singing by one or more voices; "plain," whereby all four voices make chords in homorhythm; and canonic "fuguing." His harmonic language, while vigorous in harmonic rhythm, is untutored by European standards of the time, with unusual dissonances, parallelisms in voice-leading, and open fourths and fifths in the harmonies, particularly at cadences. All but one of his publications are devoted exclusively to his own music. The first was The New-England Psalm-Singer (Boston, 1770), with frontispiece engraved by Paul Revere, the first collection printed in America containing only American music and only a single composer’s work. His most popular songbook, The Singing Master’s Assistant (Boston, 1778), went through four editions by the late 1780s and made him famous.
   As Americans matured in their musical sophistication, Billings’ music fell out of fashion. Interest in him revived with academic appreciation of American music in the 20th century, and certain works—Shiloh, The Rose of Sharon, and David’s Lamentation— have become popular with choruses.

Historical dictionary of sacred music. . 2006.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Billings,William — Billings, William. 1746 1800. American composer whose hymns, including “Chester,” were among the most popular and influential musical works composed in early America. * * * …   Universalium

  • Billings, William — born Oct. 7, 1746, Boston, Mass. died Sept. 26, 1800, Boston, Mass., U.S. American hymn composer, sometimes called the first American composer. A tanner by trade, he was largely self taught in music. His robust and primitive style, lacking… …   Universalium

  • Billings, William — (7 oct. 1746, Boston, Mass., EE.UU.–26 sep. 1800, Boston, Mass.). Compositor de himnos estadounidense, considerado a veces el primer compositor estadounidense. Curtidor de profesión, fue en gran medida músico autodidacta. Su estilo robusto y… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • William Howard Schuman — (* 4. August 1910 in New York; † 15. Februar 1992 in New York) war ein US amerikanischer Komponist. Leben Gebürtig aus der New Yorker Bronx, spielte Schuman bereits als Kind Violine und Banjo. Als junger Mann gründete er ein Tanzorchester und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • William Billings — (7 de octubre de 1746, Boston, Massachusetts 26 de septiembre de 1800, Boston) fue un compositor de himnos estadounidense. Era curtidor de oficio y …   Wikipedia Español

  • Billings — /bil ingz/, n. 1. Josh, pen name of Henry Wheeler Shaw. 2. a city in S Montana. 66,798. * * * I City (pop., 2000: 89,847), south central Montana, U.S. Billings was established on the Yellowstone River in 1882 by the Northern Pacific Railway and… …   Universalium

  • Billings — (as used in expressions) Billings, John Shaw Billings, William Hand, (Billings) Learned Kellogg, Frank B(illings) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • William — /wil yeuhm/, n. 1. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter W. 2. a male given name: from Germanic words meaning will and helmet. * * * (as used in expressions) Huddie William Ledbetter Aberhart William George William… …   Universalium

  • William — (as used in expressions) William Alexander Abbott Aberhart, William George William Russell Amis, Sir Kingsley (William) Ashley, William Henry Ashton, Sir Frederick (William Mallandaine) Barkley, Alben W(illiam) Bartram, William William Allen… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • William Billings — (October 7, 1746 ndash; September 26, 1800) was an American choral composer, and is widely regarded as the father of American choral music. [ [ William Billings ] ] Billings was originally a… …   Wikipedia

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