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Title:The Life and Music of Will Marion Cook
Author(s):Carter, Marva Griffin
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gushee, Lawrence
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Black Studies
Mass Communications
Abstract:Will Marion Cook was a unique black American artist whose life spanned most of the century after emancipation. His personality as well as his music maybe viewed as a response to the intensive black struggle for equality in the arts, economy, educational institutions, government, political and social arenas. His educational preparation included Oberlin, Berlin's Hochschule fur Musik, and New York's National Conservatory of Music.
He made a major multifaceted contribution to the musical history of America. His 1898 production of Clorindy the Origin of the Cakewalk was instrumental in introducing Broadway to syncopated song. He assisted the famous Williams and Walker team as composer and/or conductor in several musical comedies--the most successful being In Dahomey of 1902. These productions helped to elevate the portrayal of blacks on stage by expanding the boundaries of minstrelsy to include African motifs. He further rehearsed virtually every large New York black show up to 1915. Cook conducted New York's leading instrumental groups--the Memphis Students, the Clef Club and the Southern Syncopated Orchestra. This last group toured Europe featuring Sidney Bechet and introducing characteristic Afro-American music authentically performed.
Only in Cook's songs, unlike those of his black or white contemporaries, do the number of highly syncopated melodies outnumber those which are not syncopated. They further employed melodic chromaticism, which was a significant deviation from most popular music at the turn of the century. His choral writing sometimes included a climactic effect akin to that found in the operetta finales of the time.
Cook was a fascinating musical personality whose contributions should not be overlooked when examining the history of black musical comedy and black orchestral groups in the United States. His biography further portrays a man whose assertion of black pride and consciousness took precedence over his career, which may account for his relative neglect.
Issue Date:1988
Description:651 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8908642
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1988

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