Black Composers

Most composers have three things in common -- they are male, white and dead. This at least is the impression created by concert programs put forward by symphony orchestras and opera houses on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. However, a new music encyclopedia has been released in the United States whose goal is to promote more variety in the concert hall. It bears the title "International Encyclopedia of Black Composers" and is dedicated exclusively to black composers. The list includes Duke Ellington, Ray Charles and Wynton Marsalis, but more interesting than the stars of jazz music are some of the lesser-known composers whose names are also found in the encyclopedia. They include men and women from three continents, spread over a period of four centuries, and all of them wrote music for the concert hall. Because of racial prejudice, they have been grossly underrated, as the publishers of the International Encyclopedia claim. The two volume work was published by Fitzroy Dearborn. It costs about 300 dollars. For now, it will be largely distributed to American libraries, but it can be purchased abroad over the Internet. Georg Hirsch has taken a look at the International Encyclopedia of Black Composers.

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