Black History Spotlight

Black History Spotlight: Hale Smith

Composer and educator Hale Smith

February 26, 2018

Hale smith was one America's finest composers. He enjoyed a long and fruitful career in music as an arranger, editor, pianist and educator. In 1952, Hale Smith was a winner of the first Student Composer's Award sponsored by Broadcast Music Inc., and in 1973, he became the first African American to receive the Cleveland Art Prize in Music. Hale Smith was a native of Cleveland, Ohio and began playing piano at the age of seven. He eventually went on to study composition and earn both a bachelor's and master's degree in music. Smith was heavily influenced by Jazz music and he spent quite a bit of time arranging Jazz compositions and performing as a Jazz pianist. His Jazz endeavors occupied much of his time, so creating Classical music, his first love, became especially important. Smith wrote solo pieces, duos, chamber ensembles, string orchestra works, large orchestra pieces, compositions for soloist and orchestra, band, jazz ensembles, choir and incidental music. Notable compositions include his In Memoriam, Beryl Rubinstein (1953) for choir and orchestra and the Sonata for Cello and Piano (1955).