Black History Spotlight

Black History Spotlight: Dr. Adolphus C. Hailstork

Composer and Professor Dr. Adolphus HailstorkDr. Adolphus Hailstork

February 14, 2018

Dr. Adolphus C. Hailstork is an African American composer and professor who got his musical start in the public school system. While in elementary school, he took a musical aptitude test and began taking free violin lessons in the Fourth Grade. Eventually, Hailstork began to sing and learned to play piano and organ. He developed a love for improvisation and turned his studies to composition. Dr. Adolphus Hailstork carved out a successful music career that spans over 50 years. He has composed symphonic works, orchestral tone poems, chamber works band works, and many pieces for piano. One of his notable works, the award-winning American Guernica (1983) was composed in memory of the four little girls killed by a bomb explosion at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, during Sunday school class on September 15th 1963. When asked about his composing philosophy, Dr. Adolphus Hailstork has said, that his compositions are "always lyrical, tonal, narrative, dramatic, and propulsive. I just wanted to add to the repertoire." Dr. Hailstork currently lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is Professor of Music and Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.