Sunday, August 12, 2007

Comment on "Dance Like The Wind: Music of Today's Black Composers"

The CD pictured above is Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still, Koch 3-7084-2H1 (1991).

Herdingcats makes this comment on "Dance Like The Wind: Music of today's Black composers" by Dominique-René de Lerma:

It's a shame you can't embed some sample clips so we can hear this music. Maybe if it's available on Amazon or another big site you could link to their clips.

How does their music sound differently from their white counterparts? Why a blog on this topic when you are not African-American? This is intriguing.

I appreciate the fact that the author of the comment took the time to raise these questions, and I am happy to respond. This blog is a companion to, so priority is given to music samples by composers featured there. The person making the comment is correct about audio samples being available at websites such as, which offers 18 samples of the CD.

The music of Black composers may or may not reflect African heritage, depending on their compositional philosophies. William Grant Still was chosen to compose the theme music for the 1939-40 New York World's Fair after the Theme Committee listened to recorded music on file at CBS Radio without knowing who wrote it, and chose two pieces as having the best sound. Both were by William Grant Still, and he composed the theme music. While some of his works contain references to African American spirituals, for example, much of Still's output is as all-American as that of his White contemporaries.

The reason for having a blog on this topic, as noted above, is that it is a companion to the website, The reviewer of the CD wrote his dissertation on Mozart, yet he is not Austrian and did not live in the 18th century! Professors, record label executives, biographers and webmasters who deal with the music of Black composers and musicians come from a wide array of backgrounds.

I listened to classical music for 30 years before learning of a single composer of African descent. By the time I discovered that I had been missing out on very beautiful classical music by Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, William Grant Still, Duke Ellington and hundreds of other Black composers, I had an academic and professional background in Civil Rights. I immediately resolved to do what I could to remedy the neglect of classical composers on the basis of race. My own heritage was not a factor in the decision.

This music belongs to all of us!

1 comment:

Herdingcats said...

Thanks so much. I shall check out your site. I strongly suggest you link to that site in the text of your blog.

Thanks again