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Title:Expressions of African American identity in the cantata “Simon Bore the Cross” by Margaret Bonds and Langston Hughes
Author(s):Martin, Allegra
Director of Research:Megill, Andrew
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Megill, Andrew
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Davis, Ollie Watts; Magee, Jeffrey; Moersch, Charlotte Mattax
Department / Program:Music
Discipline:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:A.Mus.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Margaret Bonds
Langston Hughes
Abstract:This dissertation examines the cantata Simon Bore the Cross by the composer Margaret Bonds and the poet Langston Hughes, a work that has never been studied before. It includes background on Bonds and an in-depth look at the letters between Bonds and Hughes, a correspondence which spanned over three decades and which has never been examined in its entirety. It also includes a discussion of the available drafts of the cantata libretto and music, and a detailed analysis of the final piano-vocal autograph score. Finally, it will discuss the ways in which Bonds' and Hughes' pride in their African-American heritage influenced their art. Langston Hughes was at the center of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City in the 1920s, a movement dedicated to using the arts to build pride in African-American identity. A decade later, the composer and pianist Margaret Bonds was at the center of the Chicago Black Renaissance. Both Bonds and Hughes, who became lifelong friends, believed in focusing on positive black role models as characters, and in using music written by black composers to create a sense of pride and excitement in African-American heritage and community. In much of their work, including Simon Bore the Cross, they achieve this by placing black characters at the center of the action to create a sense of historical connection among the black community to important Biblical events, and by integrating African-American spirituals into the music. Simon Bore the Cross was thought to be lost until a complete piano-vocal score was acquired by Georgetown University in 2014. Hughes' drafts of his libretto for this work are at Yale University. Both institutions also preserve a substantial amount of correspondence between Bonds and Hughes. By highlighting this overlooked work, I hope to generate interest in Bonds' neglected but significant contributions to the American musical canon.
Issue Date:2019-04-18
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/104805
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Allegra Martin
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05


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