The Moerane Scholarly (or Critical) Edition is a South African heritage reclamation project based at Stellenbosch University, in which more than 50 works by composer Michael Mosoeu Moerane (1904-1980) have been collected and prepared for publication. The background to each work has been carefully researched, and every score in this Edition is prefaced by a historical introduction to the work and followed by a critical commentary on sources and editorial issues. It is thus both a research project and a publication project, and as a publication project the composer's descendants are directly involved, to ensure that there is no exploitation of the intellectual property invested in the Edition.
Michael Mosoeu Moerane is one of the most interesting and important figures in southern African musical life. He was born on 20 September 1904 in the village of Mangoloaneng in the eastern Cape Province of South Africa (near the Lesotho border), and died on 27 January 1980 in Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein. He was the second-born of seven children, educated first at his father's Protestant mission school, then at the nearby Catholic mission school, and afterwards at Lovedale High School, thereafter completing matriculation at the South African Native College (Fort Hare) in 1926. He completed a B.Mus. degree part-time through the University of South Africa (the Rhodes University College branch) between 1931 and 1941. During the 1940s, 50s, and 60s Moerane worked in secondary schools in several different parts of apartheid South Africa (Alice, Mthtatha, Queenstown, Mpondoland) and also in Lesotho (Maseru and Peka). He taught English, Latin, History, Commercial Arithmetic and Sesotho - according to what was required by each school - and was active as an extra-mural music teacher, composer, arranger, conductor, and adjudicator. During his retirement in the 1970s he also helped to set up the new music department at Lesotho Teachers Training College. Moerane composed approximately 80 works including many only recently discovered and a number that are still lost. He wrote a symphonic poem, dozens of choral pieces and arrangements, a suite for piano, and several pieces for his ensemble, the 'African Springtime Orchestra'. In 1931 Moerane married Betty Beatrice Msweli, and they had six children. Moerane was highly regarded as a musician and several of his choral works have had an enduring popularity: Ruri, Sylvia, Della, Morena Tlake, Matlala, Liphala, and Tsatsi la Pallo. His music is characterised by its demanding vocal writing, highly charged harmonic language, an often complex texture, and elements of African traditional music. The orchcstral work, Fatše la Heso ('My Country', 1941) has been performed internationally and commercially recorded, and some of the choral works have been arranged and recorded commercially.