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The Arts/Classical

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During the early 20th century was the emergence of composers who taught at Black universities/colleges, with a few of them winning critical acclaims. Their legacy was then passed down to the next generation during the 60s. Before the Civil War, only  small group of classically trained Black composers worked professionally in America. Most of these composers lived in slave states. Most learned their skills from immigrant European musicians, while others were self taught. 

  • Third stream – Style that combines jazz improvisation with instrumentation and compositional forms associated with classical music
  • Syncretism – Process of hybridization that occurs when different cultures come into sustained contact

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was a cultural capital for many Blacks in America. It was where Black composers were able to really compete with White musicians for the attention of all audiences. Regardless of their success, Whites American audiences saw Black composers as servants of the working class. The social divide of races was prevalent at this time.

William Grant Still was an American composer of more than 150 works, including five symphonies and eight operas.

Florence Price was an African-American classical composer. She was the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra.

After the Emancipation Proclamation, many African Americans were given a sense of hope for their future in the US after being given more rights. This resulted in an outpour of musical erudition within Black America. These hopeful musicians were hoping to have an equal playing field in the creative arts as White Americans following the Emancipation.



Classical music has influenced future genres in relation to the structure of the song and content. For example, many rap artists have sampled classical music in their songs as a means of adding soul to their music.

Although it has made a huge impact on the music industry, I believe that classical music is underrated. It isn’t normally played on the radio, or even in social settings, so it’s rare to find someone listening to classical music. However, that doesn’t take away the accomplishments of composers before us, and the bodies of work that we continue to be inspired by.

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