Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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Jenks, Stephen

(b Glocester, RI, 17 March 1772; d Thompson, OH, 5 June 1856). American composer and tune book compiler. He taught singing schools in New England and New York State, and cultivated a network of pupils and fellow teachers whose compositions he published. He was a prolific exponent of the American idiom developed by Daniel Read and other Connecticut composers in the 1780s and 90s, and contributed 127 pieces to the ten collections of psalmody he issued between 1799 and 1818. He was a major composer of fuging-tunes. While taking most of his texts from Isaac Watts and other English evangelical poets, Jenks showed considerable interest in patriotic, commemorative and elegiac verse.

In 1829 Jenks moved to Ohio, where he farmed and reportedly made percussion instruments, though he continued to compose until 1850. His manuscript copybook includes settings of popular revival hymns in a contemporary 19th-century style incorporating folk elements. Although Jenks’s music is neglected in the northern states, his tunes ‘Liberty’, ‘Evening Shade’ and ‘North Salem’ are still frequently performed by southern shape-note singers who preserve the singing-school tradition.

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