Black Composers Forum

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Composers by year, both of birth and general activity.




Alphabetical list by last name

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J     K    L    M    N   O    P    Q    R  S    T    U    V    W    X   Y    Z

Spreadsheet of composers (sorted by date) 

String Solo Music by BIPOC and AAPI Composers with links! This list is compiled not to be extensive, but to identify some of the more often performed works by BIPOC and AAPI composers as of 2022. A great resource when searching for solo or solo with piano repertoire for violin, viola, cello, bass. It is loosely categorized into 2 levels- "undergraduate" and "graduate." Links to music or composers included. 135 KB


Black composer database links

Institute for Composer Diversity

 Music by Black Composers

Afri-Classical--African Heritage in Classical Music

Viola music by underrepresented composers

Black Music History Library

Reference reading

International Dictionary of Black Composers. Samuel A. Floyd Jr., ed. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn. 1999. ISBN 9781884964275 

Green, Mildred Denby. Black women composers: a genesis. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1983 ISBN 9780805794502. OCLC 7248595. 

Walker-Hill, Helen. From spirituals to symphonies : African-American women composers and their music. University of Illinois Press, 2007. ISBN 9780252074547 

Samuel A. Floyd, Jr (ed.), Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1990 

Southern, Eileen. Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1982. 

Crawford, Richard. America's Musical Life: A History. W. W. Norton & Co., 2001 ISBN 0-393-04810-1




George Bridgetower (1778-1860)

Welcome to the forum! In June 2020 I started trying to educate myself about the music and experience of black composers by posting an almost daily entry on my Facebook page.  Here in the forum, they are loosely organized by period (see links in box to the right), and I will also post a link to a spreadsheet I am keeping as a resource for musicians looking to explore.  To view all the entries, click on "View all posts" as the thumbnail section is limited and only shows the 24 most recent posts.  Content is added frequently, so please check back often, and/or follow me on Facebook.  

Avril Coleridge-Taylor

It’s been 2 weeks since I received my copies of the (out-of-print) International Dictionary of Black Composers, and I have been reading a few entries every day.  The book was edited by the late Helen Walker-Hill, musicologist and wife of…

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Millicent James

It has been my pleasure throughout the great Pandemic Summer and Fall 2020 to have been working with a group of British women composers for an upcoming livestream for the Spitalfields Festival. I’d like to feature a few of them…

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Bobbie-Jane Gardner

The second in my series of the new generation of women composers is Bobbie-Jane Gardner. I had the pleasure of working with her on her commissioned piece for solo viola, which was premiered at the Spitalfields Music festival in December…

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Jessie Montgomery

This piece was performed in our weekly chamber music masterclass at Hartt recently. I'm always thrilled when our students reach make it a priority to play music of living composers. #blackcomposers #womencomposers 

The entry is reposted from the composer's…

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Eddie South

Edward Otha “Eddie” South was born in the confusingly named town of Louisiana, Missouri in 1904.  Encyclopedic entries on Eddie South are short and consistent, being content to merely state that if it were not for the universal racism of…

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Daniel Bernard Roumain

Daniel Bernard Roumain, (DBR) born 1970 to Haitian-American parents, is a classically trained composer/violinist and activist. His compositions and arrangements, which have been performed by the orchestras of Dallas, Des Moines, Memphis, San Antonio, St. Louis, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the…

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T.J. Anderson

(Excerpted from the composer’s webpage) 

Thomas Jefferson (T.J.) Anderson was born August 17, 1928 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania and received degrees from West Virginia State College, Penn State University, and a Ph.D in Composition from the University of Iowa. He taught…

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Howard Swanson

In October 1978, Leontyne Price performed for an enthusiastic audience at the Carter White House.  “Dazzling a White House audience” read the Washington Post review the next day. Her program included arias by Haendel, Puccini, and Strauss’ Four Last Songs…

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Clarence Cameron White

Born on this day (Aug 17)  in 1879 or 1880, Clarence Cameron White was a violinist and composer quite active in the first half of the 20th century. 

The story of how he came to study violin with Will Marion…

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Joseph Bologne/Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Joseph Bologne, aka the Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799) was a champion fencer, classical composer, virtuoso violinist, and conductor of the leading symphony orchestra in Paris. Born in the French colony of Guadeloupe, he was the son of George…

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Mary Watkins

Mary Watkins (1939-), American composer and pianist, has written for orchestra, opera, chamber ensembles, jazz ensembles, film, theatre, dance, and choral groups.  She was trained classically at Howard University and has received several grants from the National Endowment for the…

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Michael Mosoeu Moerane

Something to read, and something to listen to. 

Michael Mosoeu Moerane (1904-1980) was born in Mangoloaneng, a village in the district of the Eastern Cape of South Africa. His father, descended from a long line of Basotho chiefs, was an…

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Anthony Kelley

As I’m exploring music in this series #blackcomposers, I am experiencing a weird sense of loss when I realize a composer whose works I admire had lived or worked in the same city as I had at some point in…

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Edward Bland

Listening to the music of Ed Bland (1926-2013)  transports me my youth growing up in New York City in the 70s.  His use of texture in instruments and rhythms to build tension and energy is probably the greatest factor, but…

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Francis Johnson

There is a question about the birthplace of Francis Johnson (1792-1844), a performer of the bugle and violin.  Some sources cite Martinique, while some say Philadelphia. Regardless, by his early 20s he was building a reputation as a bandleader in…

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Adolphus Hailstork

(condensed from the composer's biography page )

Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork (1941-) born  in Rochester, New York, began his musical studies with piano lessons He studied at Howard University and Manhattan School of Music. After returning from service in the U.S…

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Errollyn Wallen

Errollyn Wallen (1958-) is a Belize-born British composer. She was the first black woman to have a work performed at The Proms ("Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra"). Her output includes eighteen operas, oratorios, concerti, chamber works, large orchestral works, songs…

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Samuel Coleridge Taylor

In the foreword to the 1969 edition of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Musician, His Life and Letters, Blydon Jackson writes: 

“American Negroes who were born in the earlier years of this century grew up in black communities where the name of Samuel…

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William Grant Still

So much has been written about the life of William Grant Still (1895-1974) that I can't do it justice. “I am waiting patiently,” he said in his autobiography, “for that man who wrote the book about how most Negro Spirituals…

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Eleanor Alberga

In 2017 when Janet Arms and I were running the 20/20 chamber ensemble at the Hartt School, I contacted Eleanor Alberga (1949- )  to see if we could do the U.S. premiere of her work “Animal Banter” for flute, guitar…

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Zenobia Powell Perry

Zenobia Powell Perry (1908-2004) was born in what was once a predominantly African American town of Boley, Oklahoma to a physician, Dr. Calvin B. Powell and Birdie Thompson Powell (who had some Creek Indian heritage). Her family was well-educated and…

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Ulysses Kay

Ulysses Kay (1917-1995), born in in Tucson, Az (and went to my high school), was the nephew of the New Orleans jazz legend and cornet player, Joe "King" Oliver, who influenced him in his formative years. After finishing his undergrad…

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Undine Smith Moore

Today’s composer is Undine Smith Moore. (1904-1989)  You can read the details of her life by googling her, but here is an excerpt of a speech she made at the First National Congress of Women in Music in 1981: 


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Edmond Dédé

Edmund Dédé (1827-1901) was born in New Orleans. His parents were free Creoles of color who moved to New Orleans from the French West Indies around 1809. Dede took his first music lessons from his father who was a bandmaster…

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