Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Classical Music Recordings of Black Composers" by D. Richard Greene

American Virtuosa: Tribute to Maud Powell, was recorded by Rachel Barton Pine, violin, and Matthew Hagle, piano, on Cedille Records 90000 097. The CD is a June 2007 release which includes two works by Black composers: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Deep River, Op. 59, No. 10; and J. Rosamond Johnson's Nobody Knows the Trouble I See. Both works were arranged by violinist Maud Powell (1867-1920), who first recorded them.

The Rachel Barton Pine recording is one of the CDs, containing more than 800 recorded works, by 140 Black Composers, found at “Classical Music Recordings of Black Composers: A Comprehensive Reference Guide to Recorded Works Available on Compact Disc”, compiled by D. Richard Greene, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Temple University. This unique resource has been a labor of love of the author for many years. It came to my attention a decade ago, and has been prominently linked from the Composers of African Descent section of AfriClassical.com since the website's early days.

Most websites on Black Classical Music focus on a limited number of Black composers and musicians. Prof. Greene operates one of the few open-ended Internet resources on the subject. His website classifies recordings by year of release from 2001 to 2007, and classifies the remainder as pre-2001. The 2007 file includes works of 14 Black composers, from Henry Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949) to George Theophilus Walker (b. 1922). The Reference Guide is updated quite often, and should be visited frequently by anyone who wishes to know what recordings are available.

Catalog numbers and cover art help make the resource useful and interesting. A "Selected Bibliography", "Historical Recordings of Note" and "Web Links" offer a great deal of additional information. A particularly valuable research project is: “An Overview of Black Composers and U.S. Symphony Orchestra Repertoire”. The author says “...a special report analyzes their inclusion in orchestra concerts from 1842-1970 and 2001-2006.”

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