Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Black History Month: 20th Century Composers

David Baker
David Baker (b. 1931) is an Indianapolis native who composes in a symphonic-jazz idiom.  He teaches at Indiana University.

Margaret Bonds (1913 - 1972) collaborated with poet Langston Hughes to creat art songs and settings for voice and orchestra.  She also composed for the stage.

Leo Brouwer (b. 1935) is a Cuban composer of African descent who has composed music for guitar and film music.

Ulysses Kay (1917 - 1995) composed in a Neo-Classical style and taught composition at the City University of New York.

Undine Smith Moore
Undine Smith Moore (1904 - 1989), known as the "Dean of Black Women Composers," she composed in a variety of genres but is best known for her choral works.

Zenobia Powell Perry (1908 - 2004) composed in many vocal and instrumental genres.  She taught for many years at Wilberforce University in Ohio (near Dayton), the first university owned by blacks.

Hale Smith (1925 - 2009) composed mainly instrumental music, sometimes incorporating jazz and other African-American idioms.

Howard Swanson (1907 - 1978) is best known for his songs, especially settings of poetry by his friend, Langston Hughes.

Olly Wilson
George Walker (1922 - 2012) won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for his work, Lilacs, which sets a Walt Whitman poem for voice and orchestra.

Olly Wilson (b. 1937) is professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught for over thirty years.  His works reflect the diversity of his interests, including electro-acoustic music, jazz and West African music.

For more information on African-American composers:
International Dictionary of Black Composers,
edited by Samuel A. Floyd, Jr. 

From Spirituals to Symphonies: African-American Women Composers and their Music, by Helen Walker-Hill 

The Music of Black Americans: A History, by Eileen Southern (3rd edition) 

Racial Uplift and American Music, 1878-1943, by Lawrence Schenbeck.

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