Hildegard Publishing Company Celebrates African-American History

Hildegard Publishing is pleased to highlight the music of many African-American women in several dedicated volumes.

Learn more about the fascinating lives and music of a selection of these talented composers. Photographs, biographies and works are listed below.

Margaret Bonds (1913 - 1972)

Margaret Allison Bonds began her musical training with her mother, Estella Bonds, and continued composition studies with Florence Price and William Dawson. She attended Northwestern University and the Juilliard School of Music. She was well-known as a pianist and teacher in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, and collaborated with Langston Hughes on songs and musical theater. Her Credo for baritone, chorus and orchestra was performed by the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra under Zubin Mehta shortly after her death in 1972.

Valerie Capers (b. 1935)

Valerie Gail Capers was born in New York City. She lost her sight at the age of six, and received her early education at the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees at the Juilliard School of Music and is a classical pianist as well as a jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. Ms. Capers serves as Chairman of the Department of Music and Art at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York where she has been on the faculty since 1971.

Betty Jackson King (1928 - 1994)

Betty Jackson King was born in Chicago and received her early musical training from her mother, Gertrude Jackson Taylor. She completed her bachelor's and master's degrees at Roosevelt University. She taught music and directed the high school choir in the public school in Wildwood, New Jersey, before her 1989 retirement. From 1979-1984 she was President of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. She has written many choral works, art songs, and arrangements of spirituals which are widely performed.

Tania León (b. 1943)

Tania Justina León was born in Havana, Cuba. She obtained her musical training in Havana and at New York University. A co-founder of the Dance Theater of Harlem with Arthur Mitchell in 1969, she served as its music director until 1980. She is currently Associate Conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and teaches at Brooklyn College. Her compositions include pieces for orchestra, theater, ballet, instrumental ensemble, and two solo piano works.

Dorothy Rudd Moore (b. 1940)

Dorothy Rudd Moore graduated in 1963 from Howard University, where she studied composition with Mark Fax. She received the Lucy Moten Fellowship to study in France with Nadia Boulanger, and also studied composition with Chou Wen Chung in New York. In 1968 she was one of the founders of the Society of Black Composers. Among her best-known compositions are two works for voice, cello, and piano, From the Dark Tower (1970) and Weary Blues (1972), on texts by black American poets.

Undine Smith Moore (1904 - 1989)

Undine Smith Moore completed her bachelor's degree at Fisk University and her master's degree at Teacher's College, Columbia University in New York City. She taught at Virginia State College from 1927 to 1971, and began composing to meet the needs of its laboratory school chorus. In 1969 she was the co-founder of its Black Music Center. She toured widely in West Africa and the United States as guest conductor and clinician. She composed in a variety of genres but her choral works are best known.

Julia Perry (1924 - 1979)

Julia Amanda Perry attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where she completed her master's degree in 1948. She continued composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York and received Guggenheim Fellowships to study with Luigi Dallapiccola in Florence, Italy, and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, returning to the United States in 1959. In 1971 she suffered a paralytic stroke. She taught herself to write with her left hand and was able to return to composing before her death. Perry's compositions include twelve symphonies, a violin concerto, two piano concertos, other instrumental and chamber works, and several operas.

Zenobia Powell Perry (1914 - 2004)

Zenobia Powell Perry was born in 1914 in Boley, Oklahoma and lives in Wilberforce, Ohio where she taught at Central State University from 1955 until her retirement in 1982. She received her musical training from Tuskegee Institute, the University of Northern Colorado, and the University of Wyoming; her composition teachers included Robert Nathaniel Dett and Darius Milhaud. Among honors bestowed on her is a Distinguished Alumna Award from the University of Wyoming in 1998. She has composed a mass, an opera, Tawawa House, pieces for band and orchestra, as well as chamber works and piano pieces, including Homage, published in Black Women Composers: A Century of Piano Music 1893-1993 (Hildegard Publishing Company 1992).

Florence B. Price (1887 - 1953)

Florence B. Price received her early music training from her mother and attended the New England Conservatory of Music, graduating in 1906. After she moved to Chicago in 1926, her works received increasing recognition; her Symphony in E Minor won the Rodman Wanamaker Prize in 1932, leading to its performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Frederick Stock at the Chicago World's Fair. Price was one of the pioneer black symphonists along with William Grant Still and William Dawson. Her compositions number close to 300 and her orchestral works were performed in several U.S. cities and in England.