Wednesday, October 10, 2007

T. J. Anderson, African American Composer (b.1928)

(Photo of T. J. Anderson used by permission of the composer)

This biography of T. J. Anderson has been compiled by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, Professor of Music at Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin. Prof. De Lerma is the prior Director of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago. He has researched and written on Black classical composers for four decades. T. J. Anderson is a member of the American Composers Alliance, whose website devotes a page to his compositions. The composer's own website is The Works page contains a chronological list of his compositions.

Popularly known as T. J. Anderson, Thomas Jefferson Anderson, Jr. was born in Coatesville PA in 1928, but grew up in Washington DC where, at age five, he began the study of piano with his mother, a professional musician and daughter of a Methodist minister. His father was professor of education at Howard University. Later he took up the violin and the trumpet as a student in junior high school (and subsequently the horn and double bass). He attended the public schools there, in Cincinnati, and his hometown. During his high school years, he had his own jazz ensemble. In 1950 he earned his B.M. degree at West Virginia State College. In these years, he toured during vacations with Tate Wilburn’s Jazz Orchestra while living in Cincinnati with his grandmother. While in North Carolina he was active with his own trio, playing the trumpet, joined by Dannie Richmond on drums and Jackie McLean on saxophone. He acquired his M.M.E. degree in 1951 at Pennsylvania State University where he was a student of George Ceiga. It was during this time he became active in non-jazz composition. From then until 1954, he taught school in High Point NC, spending the summer of 1954 studying with T. Scott Huston at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He joined the faculty of West Virginia State College in 1955 for one year, moving then to the University of Iowa for his Ph.D. (1958), a student there of Philip Bezanson and Richard Hervig. The year after graduating he published his first work, Introduction and Allegro (ACA, 1959). His next faculty appointment was at Langston University in Oklahoma (1958-1963), where he chaired the music department. His summer of 1964 was at the Aspen School of Music where he studied with Darius Milhaud, following this with an appointment at Tennessee State University (1963-1969). In 1969, he was engaged as composer-in-residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to 1971, and remained in Atlanta one additional year as Danforth Visiting Professor at Morehouse College. In 1972, he joined the faculty of Tufts University, where he became the music department chairman in 1980 and holder of the Austin Fletcher Professor of Music Chair from 1978. He was guest conductor of the Boston Pops in 1976, 1977 and 2007, of Oklahoma Arts Institute Orchestra at Quartz OK (1984), and the original conductor of the Black Music Repertory Ensemble (1988). He retired in 1990 and moved to Chapel Hill NC. He has later been Hill Distinguished Professor at the University of Minnesota (1990), Distinguished Visiting Professor at California State University-Chico (1991), Composer-in-Residence at Northwestern University (1992, 1997), Visiting King/Chavez/Parks Professor at the University of Michigan (1993), Composer-in-Residence at Ohio State University (1994), Composer-in-Residence, Berklee School of Music, 2007, and as a Fellow of the National Humanities Center (1996-1997).

He has held fellowships and grants from the MacDowell Colony (summers of 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1968, and Norlin/MacDowell Fellow in 1983). the Copley Foundation and the Fromm Foundation (both in 1964, with Fromm Foundation Award in 1971), the Rockefeller Foundation (1968), the Yaddo Foundation (1970, 1971, 1974, 1977), the Rockefeller Center Foundation Grant (1969, 1971, 1972) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1976). In 1977 he was named an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa. He was given the Distinguished Achievement Award from the National Association of Negro Musicians at their 60th annual convention in St. Louis in 1979. In commemoration of his 50th birthday, special concerts were held in Cambridge MA at the Longy School of Music (1979) and in Chicago at the studio of sculptor Richard Hunt (1978). Videmus, under the guidance of its founder, Vivian Taylor, presented a 60th Birthday concert, conducted by Olly Wilson, at Harvard University in 1989. The One-Hundredth Year Celebration Concert at Tufts University honored him in 1995. The National Black Music Caucus of the Music Educators National Convention provided him with the Leadership Award in 1980 at their Miami meeting. Other awards and honors include being named an Alumni Fellow of Pennsylvania State University (1982), Senior Faculty Citation for Outstanding service, from Tufts University (1983), Scholar-in-Residence at Bellagio 1984, 1994), Lillian Leibner Award for Distinguished Teaching and Advising from Tufts University (1985), a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1988-1989). The IBM-Michael Stillman Fellowship in Music, from the Dierassi Foundation (1988), Artistic Residency at the Escola da Música, Universidade da Bahia, a Fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (Sweet Briar VA, 1989), the Achievement Award at Atlanta’s First All-Black Symphony and Chorus (1990), Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Arts and Architecture of Pennsylvania State University (1990), Sterling Patron of Phi Mu Epsilon (1990), and the Mary Hudson Onley Award from Boston’s Hall of Black Achievement (1991). A concert of his music was offered at the 25th Anniversary Conference of the National Black Music Caucus, now the National Association for the Study and Performance of African American Music (NASPAAM) of which he was the first president, in Atlanta in 1997.

He holds honorary doctorates from the College of Holy Cross (D.M.A., 1983), West Virginia State College (D.M., 1984), Bridgewater State College (D.M., 1991), St. Augustine’s College (D.M., 1996), and Northwestern University (D.F.A., 2002), Bates College (D.M., 2005) and Tufts University (D.M., 2007). He is married to Lois Anderson, librarian and genealogist.

Selected Recordings:

Intermezzi (6:50); A City Called Heaven; Thamyris; Tania Leon, conductor; Aca Digital (2003)

Cabaret Songs (7) (24:33); It Won't Be The Same River; Mallarme Chamber Players; Capstone (2001)

Chamber Concerto “Remembrances” (17:04); New American Scene II; Cleveland Chamber Symphony; Edwin London, conductor; Albany Records (1999)

Intermezzi (7:53); Works By T.J. Anderson, David Baker, Donal Fox, Olly Wilson; Vivian Taylor, piano; Eric Thomas, clarinet; J. Michael Leonard, tenor recorder; Videmus (1994)

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African+American" rel="tag">African American
Black+Composer" rel="tag">Black Composer
classical+music" rel="tag">Classical music
Music+Professor" rel="tag">Music Professor
Black+Conductor" rel="tag">Black Conductor

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