Category: Langston Hughes

  • The Happy Heaven of Harlem

    Many artists moved to Harlem, where they were free to cultivate the inner life. Langston Hughes, the most famous poet of the Harlem Renaissance, reading his poem “I, Too”: The Harlem Renaissance was the artistic flowering of the Great Migration. As Duke Ellington wrote in “Drop Me Off in Harlem”: I don’t want your Dixie,You […]

  • 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, 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, part III: Nationalism and Internationalism in the 20th Century

    In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, some African-American composers working in classical music chose to compose in the standard forms of the European classical music traditions — i.e, an international style. William Grant Still, for instance, known as the “Dean of African-American Composers,” could be considered an “internationalist.” Among many other works, Still wrote five […]

  • 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 […]