Black Twist on Classical Music

Classical music has been around for a long time since the Ancient period . Although it started off in the western world, there are a lot of black artists who have contributed to this genre.

Black musicians have made their debut in classical music since the 1700s till present with the likes of Leontyne Price,Harry T Burleigh, Robert McFerrin, Camilla Williams, Blind “Tom” Wiggins etc.

Classical music has a lighter texture  in comparison to other genres of music that uses the piano as their main instrumentation. It also places emphasis on grace and melody and has a defined rhythm   Another important aspect of classical music are the performers. Classical music consists of composers and performers. Some artists play the role of both.  Most classical musicians sing in an opera-style. 

Lets see Classical music from the eyes of a black composer : Blind “Tom” Wiggins.

Blind “Tom” Wiggins was one of the most famous American entertainers of the nineteenth century. He was an African American musician and composer. Blind from birth and born into slavery, Wiggins became well known for his brilliant piano writing skills. At an early age, he showed an interest in the piano after hearing the instrument played by Bethune’s daughters. He often referred to himself in the third person (e.g., “Tom is pleased to meet you”).In 1860, Blind Tom performed at the White House before President James Buchanan he was the first African-American to give a command performance at the White House.

Tom Wiggins’s lack of emotional development coupled with extraordinary musical ability made him prime for exploitation. After the Civil War Bethune’s son, John, took over the management of Blind Tom, and he used Wiggins’s considerable income to support his own extravagant lifestyle.

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