Classical Music


Classical music was originated during the Medieval Times. There were only a few African American composers and some resided in slave states.They received formal instruction from immigrant European musicians. Some African American composers learned from local practitioners or they were self-taught. They wrote short compositions based on European American Models, and dance music with minstrel tunes. There were three eras: Pre Emancipation, Post Emancipation, and Modern and Post Modern.

Pre Emancipation

Before the Emancipation there were a few black composers that flourished. Newport Gardener from Rhode Island was a singing schoolmaster and composer. While he was a slave he learned music and eventually taught others. In 1791 he won the lottery and was able to buy his freedom and opened a singing school in Newport. He taught blacks and whites. Philadelphia served as the cultural capital of Black America during the antebellum period. At the time black composers were able to compete with white composers mainly immigrants for public patronage. They were viewed as servant class musicians that white people hired.

Post Emancipation

During this time period slavery was abolished, blacks were granted citizenship, and black men were given the right to vote. Due to the excitement and hope that blacks had it reflected in their music. Black born during this era would utilize influences upon concert life in Black America. Many composers received advanced musical education that prepared them for leaderships roles.

Modern and Post Modern

Composers born into this era had a huge benefit over others. They has access to higher education, the ability to travel and perform their compositions in front of audiences, and the ability to have their music published and recorded. African American composers in organizations such as ASCAP and BMI has risen and gained great protection over their intellectual property rights.


Classical music has a mellow melody to it that is very calming. There is a wide range of instruments played with and orchestra. Classical can also be staccato with notes drawn out to show the calming effect.


Composers received commission to write from major organizations just to write works. With national exposure a few composers received grants from government agencies.

Social Implications

African American during this time period struggled at first to get their music heard by audiences. Even when they did get their music heard by audiences they were viewed a the servant entertainment. Eventually the had risen and started to flourish and their compositions were appreciated by whites. They were able to travel and gained commission from performing or writing.

Important Performers

  • Frank Johnson
  • Harry T. Burleigh
  • William Grant Still
  • Tania Leon






Conclusory Opinion

Although classical music was already originated by whites blacks played a major role. I feel as though they always give music a little bit more flavor. Blacks went through a lot during the classical music error with the Emancipation era. I personally don’t listen to classical music and don’t think it influenced other genres because it was not originated by blacks.

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