Saturday, August 18, 2007

Classical Music and Musicians


"The Pittsburgh Courier" (8/25/34, page5, section1) says that Alton Augustus Adams "has the distinction of being the first... and only...colored bandmaster in the US...having served in that capacity for over 17 years...Born at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, forty-five years ago...under the sign of Scorpio...Began the study of music at the age of nine...had private teachers...and took a correspondence course in harmony from the University of Pennsylvania under Dr. Hugh A. Clarke."


Augustus Granville Dill, sociologist, musician and Business Manager of The Crisis, was born in Portsmouth, Ohio in 1881. Dill received his B. A. from Atlanta University in 1906, and a second B. A. from Harvard University in 1908. Dill returned to Atlanta to receive his M. A. in 1908. It was during this second period in Atlanta that Dill became a student of W. E. B. DuBois. In 1910, Dill became an Associate Professor of Sociology after DuBois resigned his position to establish The Crisis, the NAACP's monthly magazine. In 1913, DuBois convinced Dill to join him as Business Manager for The Crisis. Dill worked for DuBois for 15 years, until 1928. After Dill's resignation, he never returned to teaching; his love for music and performing took precedence in his life.

Augustus Granville Dill's most important professional activity was his early involvement in the NAACP and The Crisis. Dill died in Louisville, Kentucky on March 10, 1956. Source:

DIXON, DEAN (1915-1976)

According to the African American Registry, Dean Dixon (b. New York City) "led the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra as their first African American in 1941. In the following years, he was also guest conductor of the Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Symphony Orchestras"


Other references:

....Conducts his first opera, "Tales of Hoffman" (by Jacques Offenbach), Chicago Defender, 2/6/43

.....Interview. 2/16/43. LWO 5833 GR13 5A4 (see: Broadcasts)

....The Dean Dixons are rumored to be on the verge of ending their marrioage. it is rumored that his next mate will be a wealthy finnish divorcee. Jet 11/5/53, p65

.....Dean Dixon, classical composor directing music for Stockholm's 700th anniversary, is teaching classical music to swedish school children with the help of an interpreter. jet, 10/8/53

.....Dean Dixon Divorces N.Y. Wife. Comp DD has divorced his white american wife, pianist Vivian Rifkin, and plans to marry Finnish Countess Mary Mandelin. Dixon, now conducting symphony orchestras in Sweden, obtained a divorce in Copenhagen. Jet, 2/21/54, pp18-19



According to an article published in "The Black Perspective in Music" (Autumn 1981), W. Rudolph Dunbar (1907- ?) was the first black man to conduct the London Philharmonic (1942), the Berlin Philharmonic (1945), the Festival of American Music in Paris (1945), orchestras in Poland (1959), and in Russia (1964), and the first to promote in Europe the compositions of black composers, particularly those of William Grant Still.

Other references -so far- from my own clippings file:

.....British Guianan musician, conductor of top rank, Chicago Defender, 1/30/43
.....Invited to lead the London Symphony, Chicago Defender, 1/30/43
.....See also:


Having begun formal musical training at the Avery Normal Institute, William Lawrence continued his study at the New England Conservatory in Boston, at Boston University, and by private instruction in Paris, France. He taught at South Carolina State College, toured the United States and Europe, and worked with such musical legends as Roland Hayes and Marian Anderson. Mr. Lawrence eventually settled in New York where he instructed pupils in music, performed in various capacities, arranged traditional African American songs, and conducted the William Lawrence Sinfonietta, and Petit Orchestra Negre. Source:

1 comment:

Dr. Jones said...

Could some one please tell me where the Dean Dixon photo came from. I would like to use but want to give appropriate credit.