Monday, November 7, 2011

Reader Inquiry: 'Was Cecil Cohen (1894-1967) a Black Composer?'

[With a Song in My Heart; Gerald J. Blanchard, Blue Griffin Records (2008)]

Dr. Darryl Taylor is Founder of The African American Art Song Alliance, which provides this biography of Cecil Cowen (1894-1967) at its website:

“Cecil Cowen
Cecil Cohen was born in Chicago in 1894. He was educated at Fisk University and Oberlin Conservatory. Mr. Cohen taught for many years on the faculty of Howard University in Washington DC. Possessed with dynamic temperament and rare artistic style, Mr. Cohen often broke away from formal, measured expression to find a new self-expression in a seemingly chaotic music period of atonal, swing and ecstatic motion. With the same exhaustive and thoughtful precision injected into his teaching, he captured a similar brilliant vitality in his composition. He was reported to be an excellent pianist. Cecil Cohen died in 1967.”

Here are three CDs which include his works:

The Negro Speaks of Rivers: Art Songs by African-American Composers; MSR Classics (2000)

Dorothy Maynor in Concert at Library of Congress; Bridge Records (2007)

With a Song in My Heart; Gerald J. Blanchard; Blue Griffin Records (2008)

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