Cynthia Cozette Lee

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Cynthia Cozette Lee
Cynthia Cozette

October 19, 1953
EducationJacksonville University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pennsylvania
Occupationmusical composer

Cynthia Cozette Lee, also known as Cynthia Cozette or Nazik Cynthia Cozette (born October 19, 1953, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is a contemporary African-American classical music composer and librettist.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] Cozette was the first African-American woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a Masters of Arts Degree in music composition .[10] Cozette was also the first African-American woman graduate of the University of Pennsylvania to be instructed in music composition by the American composers, George Crumb and George Rochberg.[10]

Early life and education[edit]

Cozette is the great-granddaughter of Warren Garner, an African slave who fought during the American Civil War in the 4th Regiment Infantry of the United States Colored Troops.[11] Cozette began her formal music training at 8 years old by studying piano with Carmen Rummo, a Duquesne University professor. She began studying flute at 10 years old. Her early flute teachers were Alois Hrabak, a former flutist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Bernard Goldberg, the principal flutist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Cozette received the Victor Saudek Flute Award in 1969 to study with Goldberg. She began her musical composition training at 16 years old with Joseph Wilcox Jenkins, a Duquesne University music composition professor. Cozette's prize for winning an honorable mention award in the Pittsburgh Flute Club Composition Contest in 1969 was to have composition lessons with Jenkins.

Cozette attended Jacksonville University from 1971 to 1973 and her music composition teachers included William Hoskins. Cozette attended Carnegie Mellon University from 1973 to 1975. Cozette performed her senior recital in 1975 with Gary Chang, a fellow music composition student at Carnegie Mellon. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1975 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Music Composition. Her music composition teachers at Carnegie Mellon included Leonardo Balada and Roland Leich. Cozette attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 1977 with a Master of Arts Degree in Music Composition from the university. Her music composition teachers at University of Pennsylvania included George Crumb and George Rochberg. Cozette studied music copying from 1977 to 1978 at the Juilliard School of Music with Arnold Arnstein, the personal music copyist to Leonard Bernstein, Gian-Carlo Menotti and Samuel Barber. She received her Master of Public Administration Degree from Rutgers University in 2005. She received her doctorate degree in education from Rowan University in 2009.


From the beginning of her composing career Cozette’s music style was influenced by the French impressionistic composers, Debussy and Ravel. Cozette's music composition training directly stems from Eusebius Mandyczewski, a close friend and amanuensis of Johannes Brahms[12] through her music composition instructors, Roland Leich and George Rochberg. Both of these instructors were students of Rosario Scalero,[13][14] a pupil of Mandyczewski.[15] Cozette's Black heritage greatly influences her music composition through her selection of music themes. Cozette completed two one act operas, Adea and The Black Guitar in 1982. However, had difficulty with obtaining publications of her works and recordings. Cozette started sketches on her opera based on the life of her great-grandfather who fought as a soldier in the Civil War and turned to writing smaller compositions for solo flute and piano.

Cozette won national music awards for her compositions. Her Nigerian Treasures for Solo Unaccompanied Flute received a College Music Society Composition Award in 1985 and the work was premiered at the College Music Society Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia during November, 1985. Cozette was named to Mu Phi Epsilon's member list of outstanding Artists, Composers, Musicologists and Educators (ACME honor). With her sister, Hazel Ann Lee, she wrote the musical Magazine Watchtime.

Cozette’s original music compositions have not been published, however, nineteen of her vocal, instrumental and operatic works are registered with the Library of Congress through the United States Copyright Office.


From 1982 to 1984, Cozette produced and hosted her own classical music radio interview program on WPEB Public Radio entitled Classical Reflections. Her radio program was a forum for African-American classical musicians in Philadelphia to discuss their life and works. She also promoted African-American classical musicians by being a classical music consultant for a weekly radio show called The Marketplace created by Joe Adams for WUHY PBS Radio station from 1976 to 1977 (WUHY is now called WHYY-FM). Cozette produced and performed her one-woman show, Songs I Wrote For Broadway, in 2001 for the Women of Color Festival in New York.


Cozette began writing poetry and fiction in 2000, as well as non-fiction essays.

  • Lee, C. (November, 2000). Build a bias-free classroom. NJEA Review, 14-16.
  • Lee, C. (2010). D.O.O.R.S. of Change: Capacity Building to Differentiated Instruction. Dissertation Published by ProQuest.[16]


Chamber works[edit]

  • Nigerian Treasures, for solo unaccompanied flute
  • Magazine Watchtime, song from Secretaries Musical


  • Slavery 2000 (music by Cynthia Cozette Lee and lyrics by Hazel Ann Lee), later renamed Slavery Year 3000
  • Secretaries, musical play script and musical score
  • Songs I Wrote for Broadway, a Musical Review


  1. ^ Anderson, E. Ruth (1982). Contemporary American Composers, 2nd ed., p.309. G. K. Hall, Boston. ISBN 0-8161-8223-X.
  2. ^ Press, Jaques Cattell, ed. (1983)(1985). Who's Who in American Music: Classical, 1st ed., p. 92; 2nd ed., p. 123. R. R. Bowker, New York. ISBN 0-8352-2074-5.
  3. ^ Cummings, David M., & McIntire, Dennis, K., eds (1990). International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory, p. 160. International Who's Who in Music, Cambridge, England. ISBN 0-948875-20-8.
  4. ^ Mack, Elaine B. (2009). Black Classical Musicians in Philadelphia: Oral Histories Covering Four Generations, pp. 212-218. Writing Our World, Little Rock. ISBN 978-0-9767356-0-1.
  5. ^ Pittsburgh Courier, Local Edition, CMU Concert to Star Black Girl, December 15, 1973, p. 17.
  6. ^ Pittsburgh Courier, Local Edition, Meeting of Two Musical Worlds: Black and Avant-Garde Sound, April 12, 1975, p. 24.
  7. ^ Pittsburgh Courier, Local Edition, Cynthia Lee Tops Winning Tradition, September 6, 1975, p. 8.
  8. ^ The Philadelphia Tribune, Phila. Composer Awarded Nat'l Premiere, September 3, 1985, p. 5B.
  9. ^ The Philadelphia Tribune, Weekend Portfolio, Classical Music Now on WPEB Radio, May 28, 1982, p. 6.
  10. ^ a b University of Pennsylvania, Music Department.
  11. ^ Maryland State Archives, Hall of Records, Annapolis, MD, Collection Reference Number MdHR G 1729.
  12. ^ Sadie, Stanley, ed. & Tyrrell, John, executive ed. (2001). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., vol. 15, p. 748. Macmillan, New York. ISBN 1-56159-239-0.
  13. ^ Anderson, E. Ruth (1982). Contemporary American Composers, 2nd ed., Leich, p. 312, Rochberg pp. 434-435. G. K. Hall, Boston. ISBN 0-8161-8223-X.
  14. ^ Curtis Institute of Music, The John de Lancie Library.
  15. ^ Rosario Scalero Biographical Sketch, Curtis Institute of Music, The John de Lancie Library.
  16. ^ Lee, Cynthia Cozette. (2010). D.O.O.R.S. of Change: Capacity Building To Differentiated Instruction (Rowan University) (Doctoral Dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database. (UMI No. 3396307).

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