Monday, June 28, 2010

Late Hale Smith, Influential Composer of Classical Music & Jazz, Was Born June 29, 1925

[Hale Smith (1925-2009)]

In 2010, for the first time, the birthday of the African American composer and Professor Hale Smith is being observed posthumously. The New York Times put it well seven months ago when it titled his obituary of November 27, 2009: “Hale Smith, Who Broke Borders of Classical and Jazz, Is Dead at 84.”

“Hale Smith (1925-2009), a classical composer who also worked as a performer and arranger with jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Chico Hamilton, died Tuesday at his home in Freeport, L.I. The noted composer and longtime friend of Smith, T.J. Anderson, reflects on the life of Hale Smith in New Music Box. Hale Smith was a member of the American Composers Alliance from 1958 to 1995. He served on its Board of Governors from 1966 to 1972.” T.J. Anderson began his memorial of November 30, 2009 with these words: “On November 24, 2009, America lost Hale Smith, one of its most important composers. His works musically intertwined the dialectic between African American identity and European traditions.”

On Jan. 6, 2010 AfriClassical interviewed Regina Harris Baiocchi about two separate but closely related topics, her career as a composer and her friendship with the late Hale Smith. The interview, "Composer Regina Baiocchi and the Late Hale Smith" was published in a series of five installments from January 11-29, 2010. Part 1 was posted January 11, 2010.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture presented “An Evening of Music by Hale Smith” on May 17, 2010. Laura Rivera wrote in that day: “Smith's wife, Juanita, 82, selected music for the program and invited Smith's former students and colleagues to perform. Violinist Sanford Allen, 71, a friend and collaborator of Smith's since the 1950s and the first African-American member of the New York Philharmonic, said that while Smith was outspoken about his theories on music and life, 'he was a man who was open to other points of view.' Smith even acknowledged preferring Allen's approach to one of Smith's own compositions, 'Epicedial Variations.'”

The page on the late Hale Smith was made possible by research generously provided by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, Professor of Music at Lawrence University Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin. He also compiled the complete Works List featured at

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