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Childers, Lulu Vere (28 February 1870–06 March 1946), founder and director of the School of Music at Howard University and singer, was born in Dryridge, Kentucky, the daughter of former slaves Alexander Childers and Eliza Butler. She studied voice at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and in 1896 was awarded a diploma that was replaced by a bachelor’s degree in 1906 when the conservatory began granting degrees. The Oberlin Conservatory chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, a national honor society, elected her a member in 1927. She studied voice further with Sydney Lloyd Wrightson at the Washington Conservatory of Music, with William Shakespeare, and with Oscar Devries at Chicago Musical College....

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Gilchrist, William Wallace (08 January 1846–20 December 1916), composer and conductor, was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of William Gilchrist, a businessman, and Redelia Ann Cox. In 1855 his family moved to Philadelphia, where he lived most of his life. During the Civil War Gilchrist was too young for the draft, but he enlisted in the army at age seventeen. Returning to Philadelphia two years later, he decided on music as his vocation after exploring business, photography, and law. For three years he studied voice, organ, and composition with Hugh Clarke, who later became a professor of music at the University of Pennsylvania. This was his only formal musical education....

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Hillis, Margaret (1 Oct. 1921–4 Feb. 1998), choral director, orchestral conductor, and music educator, was born Margaret Eleanor Hillis in Kokomo, Indiana, the first of four children of lawyer Glen Hillis and Bernice Haynes Hillis, whose father was inventor and industrialist Elwood Haynes...

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Hughes, Revella Eudosia (02 July 1895–24 October 1987), musician, singer, and educator, was born in Huntington, West Virginia, the daughter of George W. Hughes, a postman, and Annie B. (maiden name unknown), a piano teacher and seamstress. At age five Hughes began studying piano with her mother and, at eight or nine, violin with a musician friend of her father’s. She attended Huntington’s segregated public schools. Disturbed when Hughes was racially harassed, her parents sent her to Hartshorn Memorial College (later part of Virginia Union University) in Richmond, which she attended from 1909 to 1911, graduating with a degree in music and elementary studies. She attended Oberlin High and Conservatory, graduating in 1915. In 1917 she earned a bachelor of music in piano from Howard’s Conservatory of Music, where she studied piano with LeRoy Tibbs and voice with conservatory director ...

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Ives, George (03 August 1845–04 November 1894), bandmaster and choral director, was born in Danbury, Connecticut, the son of George White Ives, a prominent local businessperson, and Sarah Hotchkiss Wilcox, a schoolteacher. Ives showed a gift for music at an early age and received a thorough, conventional education in classical music. He received lessons on the cornet, his primary instrument, and attended the Philharmonic concerts in New York. At various times, he also learned to play the violin, piano, and organ, and possibly the flute. He pursued formal studies with Charles A. Foeppl, a teacher in New York City, from August 1860 until May 1862....

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Hall Johnson Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1947. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108272).

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Johnson, Hall (12 March 1888–30 April 1970), composer, arranger, and choral conductor, was born Francis Hall Johnson in Athens, Georgia, the son of William Decker Johnson, an AME minister, and Alice (maiden name unknown). Music was an important part of Hall Johnson’s childhood. He heard the singing of his grandmother and other former slaves as they sang the old spirituals in his father’s Methodist church. This grounding in the original performance of Negro spirituals was to represent a significant influence on his later life. Johnson, exhibiting an early interest in music, received solfeggio lessons from his father and piano lessons from an older sister. As a teenager he developed an interest in the violin and taught himself to play....

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Lang, Benjamin Johnson (28 December 1837–03 April 1909), organist, pianist, and choral conductor, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Lang, a piano teacher and church organist, and Hannah B. Learock. His first teacher was his father, and he later studied with F. G. Hill in Boston. At the age of fifteen he became organist and choir director of the Somerset St. Baptist Church in Boston, but in 1855, at the age of eighteen, he joined the growing number of young American musicians studying in Europe. There he studied first in Paris with Alfred Jaëll and Gustav Satter and later in Weimar with Franz Liszt, of whom he said, “He was most generous in his artistic advice, which always was given gratis.”...

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Luboff, Norman (14 May 1917–22 September 1987), choral director and arranger, was born Norman Kador Luboff in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Julius Luboff, an insurance salesperson, and Rose (maiden name unknown). Even though his parents discouraged him from entering the field of music, Norman was happily surrounded with music throughout his childhood and adolescence, enjoying his family’s amateur vocal harmonizing and his membership in his high school’s orchestra and choir. Foreshadowing events to come, he even organized a small choir of his teenage peers whom he taught by rote to sing in four-part harmony. However, he did not consider music as a profession until 1935, after entering Chicago’s Central Y.M.C.A. College (later renamed Roosevelt University), from which he received a bachelor of arts degree in music in 1939. During these formative years Luboff’s influential teachers included Richard Bloch, Alexander Vivaiski, Norman Lockwood, and ...

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Ritter, Frédéric Louis (22 June 1834–06 July 1891), composer, conductor, and author, was born in Strasbourg, France. His father (full name unknown) was of Spanish extraction, the family name having originally been Caballero. (His mother’s identity also is unknown.) Ritter studied music as a youth with Hans Schletterer and Franz Hauser and then went to Paris to study with J. Georges Kastner, his cousin. In 1852 Ritter was appointed professor of music at the Protestant seminary of Fénéstrange in Lorraine....

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Schreiber, Frederick Charles (13 January 1895–15 January 1985), organist, conductor, and teacher, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Charles Robert Darwin Schreiber, a doctor, and Anna (maiden name unknown). Both parents were musicians who delighted in playing piano, and they provided countless hours of musical enrichment for Frederick and his sister Ella. In this way Schreiber learned to appreciate the classical repertoire. Schreiber began formal study of the piano at age eight and wrote his first composition when he was just ten years old. He attended the Humanistic High School in Vienna, the Vienna University, and the State Academy of Music, studying composition, conducting, piano, and violoncello....

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Tuckey, William (1709?–14 September 1781), singer, composer, and teacher, was born in Somersetshire, England, and arrived in America in late 1752 or early 1753. His parents’ names are unknown. All that is known of his life prior to his appointment as clerk of Trinity Church in New York on 31 January 1753 must be deduced from incidental references in Trinity’s vestry records, public notices of his subsequent activities, and the inscription on his tombstone in the yard of Christ Church, Philadelphia. According to that inscription, he died “in the 73d year of his age”; his birthdate may thus be placed between 15 September 1708 and 13 September 1709. In a notice in the 11 March 1771 issue of the ...

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Waring, Fred (09 June 1900–29 July 1984), band leader and choral conductor, was born Frederic Malcolm Waring in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, the son of Frank Waring, a banker, and Jessie Calderwood. Waring’s eclectic musical taste and repertoire was established early. He sang hymns and anthems with his parents in a Methodist church choir and for regional temperance rallies. At home the Warings hosted amateur Sunday-evening “musicales” featuring concerts of light classical Victrola recordings and the singing of folk songs, sentimental ballads, and holiday songs. Waring learned patriotic airs and marches through a Boy Scout fife and drum corps he organized. He learned popular songs by singing in a male quartet and in his high school choir....