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Marva Griffin Carter

cellist, was born in New York City. Cumbo was inspired to pursue music by the careers of the great cellist Pablo Casals and the violinist and black musical comedy composer Will Marion Cook. He was educated in the city's public schools as well as at the Martin-Smith School of Music, where he became a protégé of Minnie Brown, and at the Institute of Musical Art (later the Juilliard School of Music), where he studied with Willem Willeke. He also studied with Leonard Jeter and Bruno Steindl in Chicago, Illinois. In 1920 Cumbo received special recognition as a featured soloist at the annual convention of the National Association of Negro Musicians in New York.

During the 1920s Cumbo became a part of the Negro String Quartet, with Felix Weir as first violinist, Arthur Boyd as second violinist, Hall Johnson as violist and Cumbo as cellist They originally ...


Baptiste Bonnefoy

was born Juan Ramón Gil Ibáñez in 1780 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Bermundo Gil, bassist for that city’s Coliseum Theater orchestra, and María Ibáñez. Ramón Gil’s baptismal record describes him as a pardo, a designation commonly applied in the eighteenth-century Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata to free persons of color. By 1804 Gil was hired as a cellist in the Coliseum Theater orchestra, becoming a close friend of its director, the Spanish composer Blas Parera (1776–1840), under whom his father also worked.

In 1793 the cathedral in Santiago, Chile, hired José Campderrós (1742–1812), a Catalonian composer then active in Lima, Peru, to reorganize its chapel music. As part of this project, Campderrós traveled to Buenos Aires in the early 1800s in search of talented musicians. He found and hired Gil as well as the pardo violinist Teodoro Guzmán At the time Santiago ...


Marissa Duhaney

was born in Akron, Ohio to Delmas M. and Bertha V. Moore, who were both born in Alabama. Moore’s mother started the Tea Time Study Club to increase the political leverage of African Americans. She also taught adults how to read and write. Moore’s father was a janitor in a rubber shop. Moore’s middle name was in honor of the African American composer, Carl Diton, whom his parents admired. Moore began piano lessons with his mother at age five and at ten took up the cello. While still in high school, Moore studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music; by the time he was nineteen, he was playing solo recitals in New York, where he would reside until the end of his life.

Moore studied the cello with Felix Salmond at the Juilliard School while also studying composition and musicology at New York University where he earned a master s ...


Eric Bennett

Oscar Pettiford helped to invent and popularize the bass solo in Jazz, significantly expanding the vocabulary and syntax of the language of the bass. Pettiford drew inspiration from the playing style of Jimmy Blanton, a bassist with Duke Ellington's band. Blanton had emphasized the melodic possibilities of the instrument at a time when the bass was most often relegated to the rhythm section of an ensemble. Pettiford, following Blanton's lead, plucked his strings with the length, rather than the width, of his index finger, thus extending the tonal and temporal possibilities for individual notes. At his best Pettiford produced a melodic clarity and complexity that echoed that of jazz guitar, and this bravura lent itself to a solo playing style. Pettiford was considered one of the top three bassists of his time, rivaling as well as influencing his contemporaries Ray Brown and Charles Mingus.

Born in ...


David E. Spies

composer and musician, was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, the son of Harry “Doc” Pettiford, a veterinarian and amateur guitarist of African American and Cherokee descent, and Leontine Bell, a music teacher and pianist who was a full-blooded Choctaw. Pettiford's father gave up his career in the 1920s, and the family moved to Minneapolis to form what later became an outstanding regional band. All eleven children contributed, the older ones generally playing instruments and the younger singing. Ira, on the trumpet, eventually worked with Earl Hines and Benny Carter; Marjorie, on the clarinet, flute, and saxophone, went on to become a member of the Sweethearts of Rhythm; and Alonzo later performed with Lionel Hampton and Jay McShann. Oscar began with the band at age three as a vocalist and drummer. He learned to play piano in 1933 and played trumpet and trombone as well ...


Marcus B. Christian

Samuel Snaër was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father was an organist in one of the white churches of the city; the younger Snaër served in a similar position as organist for Saint Mary's Italian Church for many years. A teacher of violin and piano, he played with talent a dozen different musical instruments, among them the violin, violoncello, piano, and organ. He was unsurpassed as a violoncellist. According to historian Rodolphe Desdunes, Snaër “was perhaps a greater musical savant than was Macarty,” one of his leading contemporaries.

Snaër like many men of genius had a rather contradictory nature and for this reason he confused many who witnessed his actions in different situations He was of an easygoing amiable disposition careless with his manuscripts not very energetic in seeking publishers for his music and those manuscripts that were returned to him after careless hand to hand journeys ...