The James Hewitt Project

“…the neatness, clarity and utter persuasiveness of the performances

and the closeness and warmth of the recording.”

MusicWeb, April 2020

 

The James Hewitt box set stemmed from my research for Patriotic Piano. Hewitt’s 9 Variations on Yankee Doodle are included on that disc, but I had found many more during my research. I had always wanted to champion early American piano music, and this seemed a wonderful opportunity to explore further. Centaur Records liked the idea of a box set of James Hewitt’s piano music, and this project was born.

Very few of James Hewitt’s pieces have been recorded, yet he was one of the most prolific composers for piano in the United States in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He emigrated to the U.S. as a young man in 1792 from Dartmoor, England. In America, he worked as a violinist, conductor, teacher, organist, music publisher and composer. Hewitt lived in New York and Boston throughout his life, with some time in the South in his later years.

James Hewitt (1770-1827) shares a lifespan with Beethoven. Many of his later pieces resemble early Beethoven, though the earlier ones are more akin to Mozart and Clementi. Hewitt’s output includes Sonatas, Marches, Waltzes, Preludes, Theme and Variations, and pieces inspired by American patriotic melodies.

Fortunately, many Hewitt scores are publicly available. Others were more difficult to find! I am grateful for the support of the Sibley Music Library, Eastman School of Music; the Music Division, Library of Congress; the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University; and the Isham Memorial Library, Harvard University.

Click on the image to be taken to the track listing and audio samples.