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Don Troiani's Battle Of Trenton painting
Battle of Trenton, December 26, 1776 by Don Troiani Courtesy of Don Troiani

What do the Hessian oboists captured by General Washington in 1776 have to do with today’s vice presidential march? Join us for this live concert and discussion exploring the surprising German influence on early American music performed by ensemble members of Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra Tempesta di Mare, hosted by Museum Curator of Exhibitions Matthew Skic with illustrated comments from Ulrike Shapiro, Executive Director at Tempesta di Mare and a native of Celle, Germany. Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. with opportunities to enjoy a pre-show performance with a festive cash bar and meet a Hessian living history interpreter.

At the Battle of Trenton on Dec. 26, 1776, Washington’s army defeated a force of Hessian troops, German soldiers who fought alongside the British in America. Included among the 900 captured Hessians was a group of oboists (or “hautboists”), the favorite entertainment of Colonel Johann Rall, who was mortally wounded at Trenton. Accompanied by regimental drummers, these 10 oboists marched into Philadelphia as prisoners of war following the battle. Less than a year later, the Continental Congress hired these musicians to provide entertainment for the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1777. John Adams wrote that the festivities included “fine music from the band of Hessians taken at Trenton.” Some of these Hessian musicians returned to Hesse-Cassel following the end of the Revolutionary War, but some of them stayed. One of them, Philipp Pfeil, moved to Philadelphia and became “Philip Phile, music master,” later composing the march we know today as the ceremonial march of the Vice President of the United States.

Hear music the oboists might have played in 1776, music played on the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1777, and music of the early Federal Period performed by ensemble members of Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra Tempesta di Mare:

  • Fiona Last - oboe
  • Dominic Giardino - clarinet
  • Ben Matus - bassoon
  • Todd Williams - horn
  • Michelle Humphreys - drums

This special program is inspired by the Museum’s current exhibition, Liberty: Don Troiani’s Paintings of the Revolutionary War, which includes Troiani’s painting of the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton. This year also marks the 245th anniversary of the “Ten Crucial Days” in which Washington’s army famously crossed the Delaware River and won its first victories at Trenton and Princeton, helping the American Revolutionaries avoid a quick defeat.

Health & Safety Note
Guests attending this program in person will be required to show proof of full COVID vaccination upon entry. “Full vaccination” means that the event date is at least 14 days after the guest’s final COVID-19 vaccine dose. Original CDC vaccination cards, photos, or electronic copies of the card are all acceptable forms of documentation. Proof of a negative COVID test will not be accepted. For ticket-holders unable to provide proof of vaccination, a livestream link will be made available. Please contact the front desk at 267-304-3046 with any questions. Prolonged periods of mask removal are not permitted. This policy is subject to change.

This hybrid performance and discussion is presented in partnership with Tempesta di Mare.

  • Logo for Tempesta Di Mare Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra

Learn More

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