Blacks in the Classics


Classical music, and the classical period from which it derives, also known as the ‘Classical Period’ from 1720-1820 but also includes the Baroque, Romantic and Galant periods, the emergence of Western music. This period of art music is when the world became introduced to composers,  meaning that an artist would write down the different music notes, pitches and formulate a song. This became easier to perform because as long as one could read music, there wasn’t all that much need to practice. Black composers also notably existed and were recognized as equal in the craft of writing music.


Classical music is a very homophonic style of music there is a constant note playing, and then an additive of differentiation. it was the first music of its kind to use such a vast amount of instruments using a  single tone, over a longer time period. Characteristics and frequent instrumental used includes the trio, sonata piano, flutes,  and ever so often vocal.

Social Implications 

Socially, classical music has influenced almost every single genre and about every form of pop culture known. This includes movies, music, tv shows, and fashion. The representation of this music definitely forms around prestige and elegance and considering that this time period is larger acknowledged as the time of enlightenment it is not taboo for black composers to be missing from the talented list of influential musicians and artists of the period. However, ff recognizing the great whites such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach, there is also more than enough room for recognizing the notable black composers as well.

John Blanke-  listed as “the blacke trumpeter” and paid by the day by both Kings Henry VII and Henry VIII

Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges- An Afro-French composer, violinist, and conductor, won his first fame not as a musician but as France’s best fencer.  Born Joseph de Bologne, on December 25, 1745 on a plantation near Basse-Terre, on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, he was the son of a slave woman of African descent and a French plantation owner.

Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins- Was a blind and autistic slave who was a classical pianist and a composer of popular songs.

    Commodification – Thought there were many black composers the making of the money remained primarily between the white european notables. They were then able to continue to make more music, with the accessibility to instruments. 

Influences on Genres/ Opinion

Classical has truly embedded its self in many genres today. There is huge linking of hip-hop and classical music, often times you’ll find violins, pianos, and even orchestras performing live with many hip-hop artists. I do truly enjoy the genre, it is soothing and often times I find it motivating. However, i was very unaware that there were hardly, if any black folks apart of the shaping of this genre, I wish that just as easy as it is to acknowledge black artists of other genres that I’d be able to do that within the classical realm.

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