Henry Thacker "Harry" Burleigh (Dec. 2, 1866 - Sept. 12, 1949) was an African-American composer, arranger, and baritone born in Erie, Pennsylvania. Burleigh is well known for introducing spirituals and folk songs to classically trained singers, in more classically arranged versions for them. He grew up hearing spirituals and slave songs from his grandfather, who suffered the deep injustice of slavery himself (he was eventually granted freedom, by buying his, and his mother's way out of slavery). Continue reading →
Florence Beatrice Price (April 9, 1887 - June 3, 1953) was an African-American pianist and composer, and the first African-American woman to have a piece played by a major symphony orchestra. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Price's first piano teacher was her mother, a music educator, and Price's first recital was at the age of 4. After high school (where she...
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (Dec. 25, 1745 – June 10, 1799) was a composer, violinist, and conductor, born to George Bologne de Saint-Georges, a wealthy married planter, and Anne dites Nanon, his wife's African slave. Though born in Guadeloupe, his father took him to France when he was a child, where he was educated, and he became a skilled fencer. Later on he joined the Légion St.-Georges during the French Revolution, the first all-black regiment in Europe. Continue reading →
Scott Joplin (c. 1867/68 - April 1, 1917) was an African-American composer and pianist, who came to be known as the "King of Ragtime Writers". Joplin was born in to a family of railroad laborers in Texas, but got as much musical knowledge as he could from local teachers, and ended up forming a vocal quartet, and teaching mandolin and...