Celebrating Black History Month

If you know one ragtime composer, it’s probably Scott Joplin, who wrote the Maple Life Rag, and whose music was popularized in the movie The Sting. But there were many ragtime composers, and many great works by them. James Scott was second in popularity only to Scott Joplin in the era of ragtime (approximately 1899 - 1916) and wrote many wonderful rags. He was such a lover of ragtime that he continued to compose it well into the 20s, even after new forms of music such as early jazz had come onto the scene. This song, Grace and Beauty (1909), is one of my personal favorites and a lovely example of this under-rated composer’s work. Members are invited to use this thread to post other examples of Black Composers -

You need to be a member of Composers' Forum to add comments!

Join Composers' Forum

Email me when people reply –


  • I'd like to celebrate William Grant Still, the great American composer and conductor

    8608522061?profile=originalOne of my advanced piano students is playing his wonderful solo piano piece, "Summerland":

    Here's one of his chamber pieces, a string quartet - "Lyric Quartette" (Musical Portraits of Three Friends) (1960) in three movements: 

    Still was a prolific composer of operas, ballets and symphonies, and the first Afro-American to conduct a professional symphony orchestra in the US.

    I've always enjoyed his music - hope you do too!

  • By the way, if anyone looks for a copy of the score of "Summerland", here's some info.  My student and I scoured the Web for the score, including Sheet Music Plus, IMSLP, every place we could think of.  We finally found a site where we could order the entire set of pieces that includes "Summerland", but we didn't like the other pieces very much and the set was $50 or $60.  Gulp.

    Solution:  We went to our local library and put in a request for the score.  They are connected to all the libraries in the country, and within hours had us a score from someplace in Virginia.  Try your libraries, not the Internet!

  • Many remember his swing classics, but Duke Ellington created a number of longer more orchestral works.  Many were not well received at the time, but are great examples of "orchestral jazz.

    Black, Brown and Beige

    - YouTube
    Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.
  • No celebration of black composers would be complete without mentioning one of my favorite Classical composers: Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges!

    You haven't heard of him, you say?  Well, prepare yourself to meet one of the masters:

    Joseph Boulogne, Chavalier de Saint Georges

  • Florence B. Price (1887-1953)

    Below is her Concerto in One Movement.

    The theme is similar to the theme of her Symphony in E minor.


  • The great, (and little talked about) Henry Threadgill.  And the composer and clarinetist, John Carter. (will provide links, later)

    Billy Strayhorn,  and of course T Monk and C Mingus, Quincey Jones, and certainly Hendrix deserves a mention, (what with his modernist take on the national anthem etc..)  

    Dizzy, Parker and Miles brought in the era of bebop..a whole new way of hearing..

This reply was deleted.