(National Portrait Gallery Canberra)
Dean Dixon: Negro At Home, Maestro Abroad
Rufus Jones, Jr.
By Christopher Purdy
February 3, 2016
I've asked Columbus based conductor Antoine Clark to join me for a series of conversations about African-American conductors. Antoine is finishing a doctorate at OSU, and is the founder and music director of the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra.
The classical music world is slowly becoming less color blind as far as maestri are concerned, but there is work to do.
Our talks begin with Dean Dixon (1915-1976). Dixon was a New Yorker who trained at Juilliard and Columbia University. He formed three orchestras on his own in New York, and took them to Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. His successes came to the attention of Eleanor Roosevelt, who wrote about Dixon in her syndicated newspaper column, My Day, and who attended his concerts. Dates followed conducting the New York Philharmonic and the NBC Symphony.
But Dixon's career was largely European based. He returned to New York for conducting dates in 1970, and died six years later. There's a new biography of this break through talent, Dean Dixon: Negro at Home, Maestro Abroad by Rufus Jones, Jr.