Poster Composer Julia Perry
Composer Julia Perry
Public Domain
Rhapsody in Black

Celebrating composer Julia Perry's 100th birthday

Rhapsody in Black - Julia Perry

Composer Julia Perry was born on March 25, 1924. For years, she existed only in the margins. This is because composers like herself have been lost to time because of structural racism and sexism in America. She studied voice, piano and composition at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. She came to prominence at Tanglewood, where she studied with Luigi Dallapiccola. She continued her studies with him in Florence and then studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. After studying in Europe, she returned to the United States in 1959 to teach at Florida A&M. She later took a teaching position at Atlanta University. We celebrate Perry’s 100th birthday on this episode of the Rhapsody in Black podcast. Listen now!

Musical selections

Stabat Mater

Dedicated to her mother, Stabat Mater sets a 13th-century Christian hymn about Mary during Christ’s crucifixion for mezzo-soprano and string orchestra. This work launched her career to international success.

A Short Piece for Orchestra

This work was performed and recorded by the New York Philharmonic in 1965 in Lincoln Center. Composed in a neoclassical style, it incorporates syncopation that creates a percussion-filled frantic and wild composition.

How Beautiful Are the Feet

Part of America’s excellent song tradition, this work is based on Isaiah 52:7. The opening line that is repeated throughout says, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace."


Host: Vernon Neal

Producer: Dan Nass

Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship

Additional music selections: Jeffrey Yelverton

Executive Producer: Julie Amacher

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About Rhapsody in Black

Where we turn up the voices of Black artists in the world of classical music, with host Vernon Neal.

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About Rhapsody in Black