Where are classical music’s Afro-Americans? demands Leonard Slatkinmain
The Detroit music director is worried abiut the declining visibility of Afro-American artists. He writes:
Over time, the contributions of African-Americans profoundly changed the American musical landscape and paved the way for others. Well before such artists as André Watts, Henry Jay Lewis, William Grant Still, James DePreist and Thomas Wilkins, however, black musicians were forging paths in all parts of the world, albeit in small numbers.
In their time, Beethoven and Haydn were both described as Moors. The former wrote some of his most significant music for the black violinist George Bridgetower. Before that, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges was France’s most prominent black composer. And in England, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor had considerable success with a work he wrote entitled “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast.”
So where are they now? And why so few?