Monday, June 12, 2017

John Malveaux: 2017 is Centennial of Birth of American Composer, Conductor and Professor Ulysses Kay (1917-1995)

Ulysses Kay (1917-1995)
is featured at 

John Malveaux of 

American composer Ulysses Simpson Kay was born January 7, 1917 and this is the Centennial of his birth. If you are of European or Asian ancestry and willing to consider little known contributions by an African American in classical and opera music or if you are of African descent and willing to consider little known achievements by an African American in music outside of Jazz, Pop, Gospel, World Music, R&B, RAP, and related genres, please see

 Seeking to learn about African American contributions in classical and opera music about 35 years ago, I contacted Dr. Kay and he graciously permitted me to visit his home in New Jersey and interview him at CBS Records in New York.  Dr. Kay had an international perspective far beyond my awareness without any international travel. He had been a member of the first State Department cultural exchange with the Soviet Union. I recall being surprised when he mentioned that of all the places he had visited, the Soviet people were most like Americans.

Dr. Kay’s composition Markings; symphonic essay. A tribute to Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961) may be found on CBS Black Composers’ Series Volume 3 Side V. In 1953 Dag Hammarskjöld was elected Attorney General of the United Nations. In 1961, he was killed when his plane crashed in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) on a peace mission to the Congo. The United States and Soviet Union were involved in an intense nuclear race. The Soviet Union opposed Dag  Hammarskjöld leadership. 

Hammarskjöld posthumously received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961. Dag Hammarskjöld kept a diary, which came into print in the 1960s with the title "Markings."

For a 2014 American Music Review: Rediscovering an American Master: The Ulysses Kay Papers, please visit


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