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Celebrate Black History Month with great pipe-organ music

Dr. David Hurd, organist and music director at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. Sister Monica/Wikimedia Commons

Organ music is typically drawn from the German Baroque or French Romantic traditions, but there are plenty of composers who broke those stereotypes with their beautiful works for the instrument.

In celebration of Black History Month, discover organ music inspired by melodies ranging from African melodies to civil-rights themes as we explore music by black and African-American composers and performers.


Originally broadcast Feb. 1993: En Blanc et Noir

Hear pieces by Mark Fax and Thomas Kerr, Nol DaCosta, Henry Sexton, and Charles Coleman, which take as themes simple, beautiful original melodies, gospel hymns and our nation's racial history.

Originally broadcast Feb. 1995: In Black and White (I)

Recitalist Herman D. Taylor provides perceptive introductions to varied works of African-American composers.

Originally broadcast Feb. 2001: In Black and White

Featuring commentator and performer Mickey Thomas Terr, explore music for organ with African percussion, and organ solo settings of African-American spirituals, music for church services and pieces for the concert hall.

Originally broadcast Feb. 2002: In Black and White

Whether in abstract visions or classical forms, responding to mainstream themes or spiritual influences, listen to the important voices of black composers, as you'll discover listening to a dozen remarkable works recorded by James Abbington, David Oliver, Mark Miller, Lucius Weathersby, Mickey Thomas Terry and friends.

Originally broadcast Feb. 2003: Blending Black and White

In this episode, Noel DaCosta adapts Nigerian tunes in his Ukom Memory Songs for organ and percussion, Dezso Antalffy transforms black spirituals in a splendid solo fantasy from the 1930s, and Pulitzer Prize-winner George Walker evokes images of craggy heights in his Spires.

Other Resources

Mickey Thomas Terry: Biography

A guide to African-American organ composers

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