Music Notes – September 30, 2018

Elizabeth Alexander’s “Go Out!” is a contemporary setting of words of the early American minister John Murray 1741–1815), who believed that “salvation did not hinge on rigid adherence to religious law” but rather was “granted to all through the grace of God. This notion of radical religious tolerance, called universalism, made Murray and his like-minded colleagues extremely unpopular in England,” and so he came to America in 1770 in search of religious freedom (notes of the composer).

Scots American composer and music teacher Alexander Reinagle (1756–1809) emigrated to American in 1786, settling ultimately in Philadelphia, where he published the volume Scots Tunes with variations (1787), a “select Collection of the Most Favorite Scots Tunes with variations for the Pianoforte or Harpsichord.” Among Reinagle’s students was Nellie Custis, the adopted daughter of George Washington.