African American Classical Composers Archive 021817 show

Call in at 760-736-8375

music by dead guys new Liner


African American Classical Composers

William grant still 1895-1978
First American composer to have an opera produced by the New York City Opera Troubled Island 1949. About the Haitian Revolution with libretto begun by poet Langston Hughes.

Troubled Island the Opera. The journey begins 11:00

Symphony No. 1, “Afro-American” 7:33

George Theophilus Walker, born 1922, is an African-American composer, the first to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He received the Pulitzer for his work Lilacs in 1996. George Walker was presented in a debut recital in Town Hall, New York by Mr. and Mrs. Efrem Zimbalist.  With his “notable” debut, as it was described by the New York Times, he became the first black instrumentalist to perform in that hall.  As the winner of the Philadelphia Youth Auditions, he played the 3rd Piano Concerto of Rachmaninoff with the Philadelphia Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy conducting two weeks after his New York debut in November of 1945.  He was the first black instrumentalist to appear with this orchestra.  The following year, he played the 2nd Piano Concerto of Brahms with the Baltimore Symphony, Reginald Stewart conducting and the 4th Beethoven Concerto with Dean Dixon and his orchestra.  In 1946 George Walker composed his String Quartet no. 1. The second movement of this work, entitled, Lyric for Strings, has become the most frequently performed orchestral work by a living American composer. In 1950, George Walker became the first black instrumentalist to be signed by a major management, the National Concert Artists.  In 1954, he made an unprecedented tour of seven European countries, playing in Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and England in the major cities of Stockholm, Copenhagen, The Hague, Amsterdam, Frankfurt a Main, Lausanne, Berne, Milan and London with great acclaim. – interview

Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 2:28

“Lyric for Strings” 6:23

Florence Beatrice Price, 1887-1953, wrote more than 300 compositions, was an award winning pianist and was the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Her first work was published when she was 11.

The Oak 12:44

Piano Concerto in One Movement (1934) 7:43

Margaret Allison Bonds, 1913-1972, was an American composer and pianist. One of the first black composers and performers to gain recognition in the United States, she is best remembered today for her frequent collaborations with Langston Hughes, Negro speaks of rivers – words by Langston Hughes.

“Troubled Water” performed by Josephine Gandolfi, LaDoris Cordell, Yolanda Rhodes 7:04

NEGRO SPEAKS OF RIVERS-Margaret Bonds 4:08

Robert Nathaniel Dett, 1882-1943, was a composer, organist, pianist and music professor. While born in Canada, he spent most of his professional career in the United States.  Dett published a collection of his own poems in 1911 under the title The Album of the Heart. Several of his later songs would employ the texts of the poems.

Nathaniel Dett ‘The Ordering of Moses’ part 1/4 13:34
Performed by The Grossmont Symphony Orchestra and Master Chorale with The Martin Luther King Community Choir of San Diego, 25 Feb 2012

R. Nathaniel Dett-Juba: Dance from the Suite “In the Bottoms” 3:08

Ulysses Kay, 1917-1995, was an African-American composer. A nephew of the New Orleans jazz trumpeter King Oliver, Kay played jazz saxophone as a boy and later turned to piano, violin, and composition. His music is mostly neoclassical in style. Wrote scores for movies and television including The Quiet One.

St. Olaf Choir – “What Wondrous Love” – Southern Harmony (1975) 3:23


Ulysses Kay “Umbrian Scene” (1963).
Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney, conductor. 9:29

Ulysses Kay: “Once There Was A Man” – William Warfield, narrator; Detroit Sym.

David Nathaniel Baker Jr. was an American symphonic jazz composer at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington 1931-2016 Baker’s compositional works are often cited as examples of the Third Stream Jazz movement. Baker was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 and a Grammy Award in 1979. He was honored three times by Down Beat magazine: as a trombonist, for lifetime achievement, and in 1994 as the third inductee to their jazz Education Hall of Fame.

George Russell Sextet – Stratusphunk composed with George Russell 6:11

David Baker – Screamin’ Meemies 7:53

Henry Thacker “Harry” Burleigh, 1866-1949, a baritone, was an African-American classical composer, arranger, and professional singer.  Harry Thacker Burleigh (named Henry after his father) played a significant role in the development of American art song, having composed over two hundred works in the genre. He was the first African-American composer acclaimed for his concert songs as well as for his adaptations of African-American spirituals.

Southland Sketches: III. Allegretto grazioso 3:12

“Ethiopia Saluting the Colours ” (Whitman) Sung by Roy Henderson 3:55

Hale Smith (June 29, 1925 – November 24, 2009) was an American composer, pianist, educator, arranger, and editor.  “Hale Smith Day” was declared for February 21, 2010 by the Honorable Andrew Hardwick, Mayor of the village of Freeport, at a concert given in Smith’s honor at the South Nassau Unitarian Universalist Congregation. The congregation, located in Freeport, has a Hale Smith Day concert each February in conjunction with the Long Island Composers’ Alliance.

Contours for Orchestra (1960) 8:16

In Memoriam – Beryl Rubinstein: II. Poème D’Automne 2:55
Beryl Rubinstein Hale smith received BM and MM at Cleveland Institute of Music where Beryl taught.

Clarence Cameron White, 1880-1960, was an African-American neoromantic composer and concert violinist. Dramatic works by the composer were his best-known, such as the incidental music for the play Tambour and the opera Ouanga.

On The Bayou by Clarence Cameron White Frank Townsell 5:38

I, Too from Dream Variations- Margaret Bonds 1:57

Andres Cardenes plays Clarence Cameron White – Levee Dance, Op. 26 (1927) 3:32

Julia Amanda Perry (25 March 1924 – 12 October 1979) was an American classical composer and teacher who combined European classical and neo-classical training with her African-American heritage. Perry also studied under Nadia Boulanger in 1954. This led her to win the Guggenheim Fellowship, which she used to go to Florence, Italy and continue her studies with Dallapiccola.

Julia Perry, “Stabat Mater,” as we grieve together
(1951) 19:40

Julia Perry: Study for Orchestra 6:26

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (June 14, 1932, Manhattan, New York City or possibly (unconfirmed) Winston-Salem, North Carolina – March 9, 2004, Chicago) was an innovative American composer whose interests spanned the worlds of jazz, dance, pop, film, television, and classical music. 1932-2004 Perkinson cofounded the Symphony of the New World in New York in 1965 and later became its Music Director. Perkinson wrote a great deal of classical music, but was equally well-versed in jazz and popular music. He served briefly as pianist for drummer Max Roach’s quartet and wrote arrangements for Roach, Marvin Gaye, and Harry Belafonte. Perkinson’s music has a blend of Baroque counterpoint; American Romanticism; elements of the blues, spirituals, and black folk music; and rhythmic ingenuity.

Sphinx Virtuosi – Perkinson – Sinfonietta No. 1, Mvt. III – CMU 6:34

Howard Swanson (1907 – November 12, 1978) was an American composer. Swanson studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and was then taught by Nadia Boulanger in Paris.[1] He received fellowships, awards and prizes. His preference was for linear construction and lyrical works with subtle tonal centers. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia and died in New York City.

Not playing
Night Music, for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and strings 9:43

James Rivers plays Howard Swanson “The Cuckoo” 2:21

Arthur Cunningham (born Piermont, New York on November 11, 1928, died Nyack, New York on March 31, 1997) He attended Fisk University (BA 1951), Juilliard, (1951–1952) and Columbia University‘s Teachers College, attaining his Master’s in 1957. The National Association of Negro Musicians gave a concert of his works in 1951. Cunningham served in the United States Army from 1955 to 1957 and wrote music for army bands, as well as for television. Cunningham wrote seven large-scale works for the stage between 1963 and 1973, mixing many styles of popular music including jazz, gospel and rock. Some of his words are similar to, and predate, rock opera.

Engrams John Ellis piano music of Arthur Cunningham – 6:18


Ahmad Jamal – I Love Music from album Awakenings composed by Hale Smith in 1970 7:33
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson: Mvt. for String Trio 4:23

 Music by Dead Guys and Gals on KKSM Radio

Music by Dead Guys and Gals
Music by Dead Guys and Gals

Mary Ellen Wilson will interview a composer or performer Back From The Dead. They will tell you Stories to delight you, Stories that will shock you, Stories you will not believe from the mouths of the maestros themselves…Back from the Dead. You will be surprised by their humor and we’ll play their music too.

Meet a classical composer BACK FROM THE DEAD Saturdays 12 noon on KKSM AM 1320 Click To Tweet

Don’t miss this rare opportunity choose the music.

You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll be transported to a world of laughter and beautiful music on KKSM Radio, AM 1320, The Radio Revolution, Oceanside CA, worldwide at

hosted by
Mary Ellen Wilson

Mary Ellen Wilson
M. E. Wilson

Tell your friends about this unique classical radio program. Use the icons below to share.



Follow Dead Guys on Social Media