Undine Smith Moore
She began studying piano at age seven, and at the age of 20 became the first graduate of Fisk University to receive a scholarship to Juilliard. Graduating cum laude in 1926, she because supervisor of music for the Goldsboro, North Carolina public school system.
She began teaching piano, organ and music theory at Virginia State College (now Virginia State University) in 1927, remaining a member of the faculty until she retired in 1972. She commuted to New York's Columbia University between 1929 and 1931 and received her Master of Arts in Teaching.
In 1938 she married Dr. James Arthur Moore and on 4 January 1941 they had a daughter, Mary Hardie.
Moore was a visiting professor at Carleton College and the College of Saint Benedict, and an adjunct professor at Virginia Union University during the 1970s. Amongst her many awards were the National Association of Negro Musicians Distinguished Achievement Award in 1975 and the Virginia Governor’s Award in the Arts in 1985.
She was awarded honorary Doctor of Music degrees by Virginia State College (1972) and Indiana University (1976) and in 1977 was named music laureate of Virginia.
Known to some as the "Dean of Black Women Composers," Moore's career in composition began while she was at Fisk. While her range of compositions include works for piano and for other instrumental groups, Moore is more widely known for her choral works. Scenes from the Life of a Martyr, a 16-part oratorio on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for chorus, orchestra, solo voices and narrator was premiered at Carnegie Hall and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Other familiar compositions are Afro-American Suite for flute, violoncello, and piano; Lord, We Give Thanks to Thee for chorus, Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord for chorus, and Love, Let the Wind Cry How I Adore Thee.
Undine Smith Moore died in Petersburg, Virginia on February 6, 1989.
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