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Black Composers in Classical Music

A research guide for finding recordings, music, and information on classical music written by black composers.

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African American Music Reference

African American Music Reference includes thousands of pages of encyclopedias, biographies, liner notes, sheet music, and images online.

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Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

de Lerma, Dominique-René, and Marsha J. Reisser. Black Music and Musicians in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music and the New Harvard Dictionary of Music. CBMR Monographs, no. 1. Chicago: Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College, 1989.

Hitchcock, H. Wiley, and Stanley Sadie, eds. The New Grove Dictionary of American Music. 4v. London: Macmillan, 1986. 

Peterson, Bernard L. A Century of Musicals in Black and White: An Encyclopedia of Musical Stage Works By, About, or Involving African Americans. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Sadie, Stanley, John Tyrrell, eds. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. New York: Grove, 2001. 29 v.  *Also online.  Temple University authorized users only.

Smith, Eric Ledell. Blacks in Opera: An Encyclopedia of People and Companies, 1873-1993. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1994.


De Lerma, Dominique-Rene.  Bibliography of Black Music.  Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981-  4 vols.

Floyd, Jr., Samuel A., ed. Black Music in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Reference and Research Materials. Millwood, N.Y.: The Scarecrow Press, 1987.

Gray, John, comp. Blacks in Classical Music: A Bibliographical Guide to Composers, Performers and Ensembles. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

Johnson, James Peter. Bibliographic Guide to the Study of Afro-American Music. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Libraries, 1973.

Skowronski, JoAnn. Black Music in America: A Bibliography. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1981.

Southern, Eileen, Josephine Wright, comps. African-American Traditions in Song, Sermon, Tale, and Dance, 1600-1920: An Annotated Bibliography of Literature, Collections, and Artworks. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990.

_______. Images : Iconography of Music in African-American Culture, 1770s-1920s. New York: Garland Pub., 2000.

Selected Bibliography

Caldwell, Hansonia LaVerne. African American Music: A Chronology 1619-1995. Los Angeles: Ikoro Communications, 1996.

Cheatham, Wallace.  Dialogues on opera and the African-American experience. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1997.

Floyd, Jr., Samuel A. The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. [BCM]

Greene, D. Richard.  An Overview of Black Composers and U.S. Symphony Orchestra Repertoire: 1899-1970.  Ardmore, Pa.: 2006.  

Haskins, James. Black Music in America: A History through Its People. New York: T.Y. Crowell, 1987.

Holland, Ted. This Day in African-American Music. San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks, 1993.

Keck, George R. and Sherrill V. Martin, ed. Feel the Spirit: Studies in Nineteenth-Century Afro-American Music. Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies, No. 119. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

Lovell, Jr., John. Black Song: The Forge and the Flame. New York: Paragon House Publishers, 1972

Locke, Alain. The Negro and His Music -- Negro Art Past and Present. New York: Arno Press and New York Times, 1969.

McGinty, Doris Evans.  A Documentary History of the National Association of Negro Musicians.  Chicago, IL : Center for Black Music Research, 2004.  

Patterson, Lindsay, ed. The Afro-American in Music and Art. International Library of Afro-American Life and History, v. 6. Cornwells Heights, Pa.: Publishers Agency, 1978.

Roach, Hildred. Black American Music: Past and Present. 2nd ed. Malabar, Fla.: Krieger Publishing, 1992.

Stone, Ruth M. and James Porter, ed.Africa: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music.  New York: Garland Pub., 1998 -   Temple University authentication only.