Wednesday, August 17, 2011

BBC and the overlooked black conductor


Yesterday's post 'Did the BBC derail the career of black conductor?' prompted the following email from Dominique-René de Lerma:
A few years before his death, Rudolph Dunbar wrote several letters to me which will confirm biographical statements you have recently posted, as well as some information not previously in print (for example, comments regarding [William Grant] Still's Festive overture). I'd not trust the accuracy of my memory but these letters -- as well as some from Julia Perry -- were deposited with the former Institute for Black Music Research at Fisk University. I'd hope someone would locate these and publish them.
Columbia College Chicago's website has the following biography:
Dominique-René de Lerma (1928– ) is a prominent, pioneering scholar in black music research. After a career as a performing oboist, de Lerma received a PhD in musicology from Indiana University in 1958. Subsequently he taught at Indiana University (1963–1976), at Morgan State University (1976–1990), and at Peabody Conservatory (1983–1990). He served as Director of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago from 1990 to 1993. Currently, he teaches at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. De Lerma is the author of several books, including the four-volume Bibliography of Black Music (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981).
Reader contributions are proving invaluable in the re-assessment of overlooked black musicians including Everett Lee, Philippa Schuyler, Dean Dixon and Rudolph Dunbar. Can anyone access the papers referred to at Fisk University? And a poser for my English readers: the following section in my 2007 profile of Rudolph Dunbar has always struck me as unfinished business:
He also composed, and his 1938 ballet score Dance of the Twenty-First Century (described by Dunbar as ‘ultra modern’), which was written for the famous Cambridge University Footlights Club, was broadcast nationally by NBC with the composer conducting.
I am talking to Cambridge Footlights and Cambridge Arts Theatre to see if the score for Dance of the Twenty-First Century is in an archive somewhere and will keep you posted. Can any readers assist in the search? Because, I have a dream...

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