Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Alicia Walker


Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s only oratorio, Der Durchzug durchs rote Meer, was lost to the musical world until around 2004. Hummel (1778–1837) was greatly esteemed during his life as a concert pianist and as a composer, and several of his choral works were among those highly regarded by his contemporaries. Interest in his works, along with Hummel scholarship, has increased in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Hummel’s oratorio is for Classical orchestra plus guitar, harp, and bass drum, four to ten vocal soli, and chorus. Its thirteen numbers run about 51 minutes, recounting the biblical story of Moses and Pharaoh, the ten plagues on Egypt, and the parting of the Red Sea. The composition stands on Classical tradition but displays a distinctively attractive and satisfying originality in motive, color, and harmonic and motivic relationships.

This monograph makes a conductor’s study of Der Durchzug durchs rote Meer based on the autograph manuscript, Add. 32187, British Library, London. The document discusses the structure and musical content of the work including influences from opera. It also presents conducting and performance issues for consideration.

Historical and biographical information is gathered so as to understand Hummel more specifically as a vocal composer, theatre musician, and man of initiative. The document further contributes to new scholarship with the discovery that Hummel, not Liszt, composed the first known bass drum roll. It leaves the question of the exact date of composition to future scholarship.