“Our forefathers weren’t allowed to keep their language when they were brought here from Africa,” singer B.B. King once said, “So, music was a language we used to let people know we had something to say. And we’ve been saying it pretty strong ever since.”
King was speaking of the blues, but his words could also apply to Black composers who have worked within the musical language of the concert hall and stage.
In this hour, how works by eight of them reflect the African-American experience—and their own.
|Florence Price: Symphonies No. 1 & 4||Fort Smith Symphony, John Jeter||Naxos 8.559827||636943982723|
|Dvorak Day Concert, [for Henry Burleigh’s Deep River,” in Jubilee Songs]||Dvorak Festival Orchestra of New York, Steven Richman||Music & Arts CD 1078||017685107825|
|Scott Joplin: Piano Rags [for “Maple Leaf Rag”]||Joshua Rifkin||Nonesuch 79159||075597915921|
|Joplin: Treemonisha [for “A Real Slow Drag”]||Carmen Balthrop & Cora Johnson; Houston Grand Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Gunther Schuller||Deutsche Grammophon 477 5590||028947755906|
|Florence Price: Symphony in E Minor||New Black Music Repertory Ensemble, Leslie B. Dunne||Albany Records, TROY1295||034061129523|
|William Grant Still: Afro-American Symphony||Fort Smith Symphony, John Jeter||Naxos 8.559174||636943917428|
|William Levi Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony||American Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski||MCA Classics MCAD2.9826A||0767320982624|
|The Incredible Flutist [for “Round Dance,” from the Six Dances for String Orchestra, by Ulysses Kay]||Westphalian Symphony, Siegfried Landau||Vox Box CDX 5157||047163515729|
|The Music of African-American Composers [for Symphony No. 1, by Adolphus Hailstork]||Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra, Julius Williams||Albany Records TROY 104||034061010425|
Great American Orchestral Music, Vol. 2 [for Pageant and Proclamation, by George Walker]
Sinfonia Varsovia, Ian Hobson
Albany Records TROY1178