March 13th marked the 62nd birthday of late composer and musical pioneer Moses Hogan. He is considered a pioneer of the modern spiritual, bringing the heart and soul of these historic songs to choirs across the nation. His work gave voice to the rich, deep history of the genre and brought it into the modern era.
In February, we celebrate past presidents and their contributions to our national identity. The legacies of our past leaders are played out in history books and written into law, but who each individual was as a person can often be lost in their great deeds. Luckily, there are pieces of presidential personality still in our possession today that allow us to better understand who these men were, not only through what they did, but also through what they valued.
The idea for Black History Month was developed during a difficult time for African Americans in the United States. In 1926, segregation and racial violence against the black community was widespread. Amid this struggle, a man named Carter Woodson, now known as the Father of Black History, wanted to find a way to celebrate African American achievements.
This month marks 100 years since the guns were silenced in Europe on “the 11th hour on the 11th day on the 11th month” in 1918, ending World War I. Concerts are being held across the globe to commemorate how the war influenced the world of music. Here are ten ways the war had an impact on the arts and culture:
Emmy-winning classical composer Julie Giroux says she didn’t know about any women composers when she was studying music, and when she first entered the field she didn’t meet any, either. Unfortunately, she is not alone in this experience. It’s only in the last few decades that women composers have begun to be recognized in some of the music industry’s top areas.
Quietly, in places ranging from convents to conservatories to farms, extraordinary women have written innovative music without the benefit of fame. Historical archives hint at the challenges they have faced. Critics called composer Ethel Smyth a “little woman” with “utterly unfeminine” works, and Florence Price echoed the concerns of other minority women when she penned in a famous letter: “To begin with I have two handicaps – those of sex and race.”
The harpsichord holds an important place in music history. Its unique sound is instantly recognizable, flavoring the works of countless composers from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods. The historic harpsichord at Mount Vernon is of special interest to John Watson, Curator Emeritus of Musical Instruments for Colonial Williamsburg. It’s an instrument modern ears have had no way to hear… until now.
Great music tells a great story. Be it the story of a moment, the story of a feeling, or the story of a generation, music delivers the message in ways that mere words cannot. The ability to print sheet music spread these stories to people around the world. One of the earliest purveyors of printed music was the company C.F. Peters; in fact, the company was so closely linked to the spread of sheet music that the story of C.F. Peters is, truly, the story of printed music.
Among the many great names in musical theater, English operetta masters William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan were two of the earliest to gain global acclaim. Starting in 1871, the two collaborated on fourteen comedic operas, many of which are still widely performed around the world.
Music is widely seen as a window into the spirit of the time it was written. Patriotic music is a prime example of this. The experience of a nation is told through patriotic music in a way that other forms of music often miss. Whether it be the pride of victory or a vocal expression of the beauty a nation possesses, there is something about patriotic music that speaks directly to national identity.