Category: classically black

  • Classically Black: #TakeTwoKnees

    TW/CW: disturbing imagery of Transatlantic slave trade and police brutality. After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, Anthony McGill, the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic (and the only African-American principal in that illustrious orchestra), recorded himself in his living room playing a mournful, mixed-tonality version of “America the Beautiful,” and posted […]

  • The DNA of American Classical Music

    While driving to Target to buy a new vacuum on Black Friday (oh, the glamorous life of an adjunct!), I turned on the radio to the classical station, which was in the middle of this piece, in a new arrangement for piano quintet (piano, two violins, viola, and cello). At first I thought it was […]

  • Classically Black VI: A Few String Virtuosi

    George Bridgetower, Beethoven’s friend and the original dedicatee of the “Kreutzer” Sonata (Beethoven dropped him because they quarreled over a woman. As portrayed in the Beethoven biopic Immortal Beloved. Sheku Kanneh-Mason: Robert C. Fisher: The young prodigy Ifetayo Ali-Landing: And the late Draylen Mason (2001-2018):

  • Classically Black, V: Playlists for “Playing Beethoven in the #BlackLivesMatter era” by Kira Thurman and”Home” by Langston Hughes

    Read Kira Thurman’s article “Playing Beethoven in the #BlackLivesMatter Era” here (also in your course reading packet). Below you will find videos of the pieces Dr. Thurman references in her essay. 1. Johann Baptist Vanhal’s Concerto in D Major, which Kira Thurman imagines Draylen Mason playing: Two of the pieces Kira Thurman played for her […]

  • Classically Black: Against the Grain

    In 2018, the city of Austin, Texas was terrorized by a bomber who, over the course of two weeks in March, murdered two people, and injured several more, with homemade bombs sent through the mail to residents of communities of color. One of the dead was a 17-year-old classical musician, Draylen Mason, the only black […]

  • Classically Black, part II: The Songs of Black Volk Playlist

    W.E.B. Du Bois (above), who spent several years studying in Germany in the 1890s, greatly admired German classical music, and considered it a repertoire full of freedom and possibility for black performers. He especially loved the operas of Richard Wagner (1813-1883), and in 1936 he made a pilgrimage to Bayreuth, the opera house in Bavaria […]