1. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (not to be confused with the very white poet). Quite famous in his time, the English conductor and composer's father was enslaved and later freed by the British. He's most known for The Song of Hiawatha, a trilogy cantatas, the piece brought him much success leading to three tours in the United States.
Sources for Samuel Colridge-Taylor 1 2
2. Hale Smith. He began playing piano as a teen and in his younger years got to work alongside Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie to arrange music. Smith was both a jazz and classical composer, and wrote compositions for TV and movies.
Sources for Hale Smith 1 2
3. George Theophilus Walker. He is the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his work Lilacs. The second video features some remarks and some biography from the man himself, please give it a listen.
Sources for George Walker 1 2
4. Florence Price. She is the innovator, she is the originator. Florence Price is the first Black woman recognized as a symphonic composer and the first Black woman to have her compositions played by a major orchestra. Interesting tidbit, after leaving a terrible relationship, she moved in fellow composer Margaret Bonds who introduced her to Langston Hughes and Marian Anderson who helped usher her success.
Sources for Florence Price 1 2
5. Julia Perry. I am by no means a classical music expert, but Julia Perry seems like her pieces should be in all the movies. She was classically trained since her youth, studying in France and Italy and being inspired by African-American spirituals. She often experimented with different techniques in her compositions like dissonance and syncopation.
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6. Margaret Bonds. She arranged lots of traditional spirituals and collaborated with Langston Hughes, whose poems, gave her comfort during college where she faced much discrimination. Her, her piece Troubled Water is played by Dr. Samantha Ege, a classical pianist and composer.
Sources for Margaret Bonds 1 2
This list is of course by no means comprehensive and though not an expert on classical music, I thought this topic for Black History Month would be interesting to cover. Some of the pieces here are truly stunning listening experiences. Are there any classical composers you enjoy? Please share!