Inspirational Violinists and Musicians:
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Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Very little is known about Boulogne’s musical training. But when François-Joseph Gossec, one of France’s pioneering symphony writers and most prominent conductors, founded the Concert des Amateurs series in 1769, he invited Boulogne to join its orchestra, first as a violinist and later as its concertmaster. He has also been know to be called “The Black Mozart” (1756 – 1791).
Boulogne’s first documented compositions are from 1770 and ’71. The six string quartets of his Opus 1 were among the first in that genre to be written in France. His three sonatas for keyboard and violin (Op. 1a) feature those instruments as equals, breaking away from the Baroque tradition of basso continuo, which was still very much in vogue. His harmonies, textures and formal schemes place him within a Classical style that was still in the process of forming.
His first public and critical success as a composer came with his two violin concertos (Op. 2), which premiered in 1772 at the Concert des Amateurs series, featuring Boulogne himself as soloist. The level of craft and sophistication in these pieces far surpass his efforts of the previous two years. The particularly beautiful Largo movement of the second concerto already features many trademarks of his later style, including a penchant for whimsical colors that run the range of instruments and an understanding of how to balance orchestral forces with clarity.
Joseph Douglass, a concert violinist, was one of the first African-American performers to be nationally and internationally renowned. His influence came at an early age from his father and grandfather, famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who were both amateur violin players. He studied violin at Boston Conservatory.
Racine grew up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His flutist/composer/conductor father and educator/violinist mother had him learning the violin, mostly by ear, at age four. As a kid, scholarships and competitions would sometimes bring him to the U.S. Haiti’s political climate, along with Racine’s parents’ desires for him to go to college in the States, led the family to move to his mother’s native Louisville when he was 16. While at the Brown School, he met Keith Cook, who had just founded the West Louisville Talent Education Center, which provides lessons to kids for little or no money. Cook helped Racine polish his skills and apply to the University of Kentucky’s music program. There, Racine did a project working with kids on the weekends, which led to his desire to become a music educator.
Nuttin' But Stringz
Nuttin' But Stringz are a young duo from Queens, NY, brothers Damien (18) and Tourie Escobar (20). They both went to Julliard and have performed at the Apollo
Theatre, as well as appearing on the Jay Leno show and the Ellen show.
Their first album, Struggle from the Subway to the Charts, was released in 2006
and it's a really terrific piece of work that I highly recommend.
Their official website is Nuttinbutstringz.com and you can hear more music on their MySpace page.
Florence B. Price
In 1933 Arkansas native Florence Price made music history as the first African-American woman to have her music performed by a major symphony orchestra when the Chicago Symphony played her Symphony in E minor at the Chicago World's Fair.
In her legendary 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial, a watershed moment in the civil rights movement, the famous vocalist Marian Anderson concluded her program with a Florence Price song. During Price's life she interacted with a surprising number of important African-American leaders, including WEB DuBois, Langston Hughes, Kathryn Dunham, as well as Marian Anderson.
The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price
clarence cameron White
Clarence Cameron White (August 10, 1880 – June 30, 1960) was an African-American neoromantic composer and concert violinist. Dramatic works by the composer were his best-known, such as the incidental music for the play Tambour and the opera Ouanga. During the first decades of the twentieth century, White was considered the foremost violinist of his race. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Born in Clarksville, Tennessee to James W. White, a doctor and school principal, and Jennie Scott White, a violinist who studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. His father died when he was only two years old. White relocated with his mother and younger brother to Oberlin, Ohio to live with her parents, where he was first exposed to the violin.
Violinist Ginger Smock was a critical figure in the development of the Los Angeles jazz scene and a trailblazing leader for female musicians in the male-dominated music industry of the 1940s and 1950s. Her work helped to pave the way for future jazz violinists like India Cooke and Regina Carter.
When the members of Black Violin first learned to play their signature instruments- Wil B at the viola 14 years old and Kev Marcus the violin at the tender age of 9 – neither could have foreseen that it would become their livelihood, though it was already becoming their passion. The two Florida natives first met while attending the Dillard High School of Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, a school whose exceptional music programs served to nurture their already budding talents.