Music by Harry Thacker Burleigh
Harry Thacker Burleigh was the first African American composer to play a critical role in the development of a characteristically “American” style of classical music.
America's first prominent black composer, Harry Thacker Burleigh, was beloved for his ability to bring spirituals and “sorrow songs” (as W.E.B. Du Bois called them) to the classical concert stage.
These songs, which originated on plantations and minstrel settings, were deeply emotional and dramatic — helping to break down ethnic barriers as they were frequently performed by black and white singers alike.
Your Redlands Symphony will be opening the May 14, 2022, concert with Burleigh's From the Southland. It features six movements influenced by well-known tunes like “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” and “Swanee River.”
Mr. Burleigh's passion and skill were incredibly impactful on many composers, especially Antonín Dvořák.
Altogether, he played a critical role in the development of a characteristically “American” style of classical music. We hope you enjoy his music.
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