Dorothy Rudd Moore

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Dorothy Rudd Moore (June 4, 1940 - March 30, 2022[1]) was an American composer and music educator. She was one of the co-founders of the Society of Black Composers. Her works were unpublished, but are available through the American Composers Alliance.[2][3]


Moore was born in New Castle, Delaware.[4] Her mother was a singer and Moore would make up her own songs as child.[5] Moore knew she wanted to become a composer at a young age and took piano lessons as a child. She learned to play clarinet so that in high school, she should join the previously all-male band.[4] She graduated from Howard University in 1963 where she studied with Mark Fax.[6] She received the Lucy Moten Fellowship to study in France where she continued her studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in 1963 and Chou Wen-Chung in New York in 1965.[7]

Moore worked as a private music teacher, from 1965-66 taught at the Harlem School of the Arts, in 1969 at New York University and in 1971 at the Bronx Community College.[8] She married cellist and conductor, Kermit Moore, in 1964.[9] In 1969, Moore and her husband were almost prevented from performing at the 1969 Damrosch Memorial Concert because "administrators fretted over having not just one but two 'Negroes' on the program."[10]

Moore has received the Lucy Moten fellowship and other grants, and in 1968 became a co-founder of the Society of Black Composers in New York. Her works, Dirge and Deliverance, and Songs from the Dark Tower were released by Performance Records in 1981.[11] In 1985, the world premiere of her opera, Frederick Douglass, took place in New York City.[12]

Between 1988 and 1990, she sat on the music panel of the New York State Council of the Arts.[13]


Moore has composed song cycles, chamber pieces, orchestral music and an opera. Selected works include:

  • Three Pieces for violin and piano, 1967
  • Modes for string quartet, 1968
  • Dirge and Deliverance for cello and piano, 1971
  • Dream and Variations for piano, 1974
  • Twelve Quatrains from the Rubaiyat, song cycle, 1962
  • Songs from the Dark Tower, song cycle, 1970
  • Lament for Nine Instruments, 1969
  • Moods for viola and cello, 1969
  • Symphony No. 1, 1963
  • Transencion, 1986[2]
  • Sonnets on Love, Rosebuds, and Death for soprano, violin, and piano
  • In Celebration, a collage to poems by Langston Hughes
  • Frederick Douglass, opera, 1985


  1. ^ "Dorothy Rudd Moore". American Composers Alliance. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  2. ^ a b Horne, Aaron (1996). Brass music of black composers: a bibliography. ISBN 9780313298264. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  3. ^ Sadie, Julie Anne; Samuel, Rhian (1994). The Norton/Grove dictionary of women composers. ISBN 9780393034875. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Dorothy Rudd Moore". American Composers Alliance. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  5. ^ Banfield, William C. (2013). Musical Landscapes in Color: Conversations with Black American Composers. Scarecrow Press. p. 113. ISBN 9780585464169.
  6. ^ "Dorothy Rudd Moore (b. 1940), African American Composer of 'Frederick Douglass'". Africlassical. 8 December 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Dorothy Rudd Moore". Hildegard Publishing Company. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  8. ^ Bracks, Lean'tin (2012). African American Almanac. Visible Ink Press. pp. 310–311. ISBN 9781578593231.
  9. ^ Fox, Margalit (11 November 2013). "Kermit Moore, Cellist, Conductor and Composer, Is Dead at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  10. ^ Leonard, Kendra (2007). ""Excellence in Execution" and "Fitness for Teaching": Assessments of Women at the Conservatoire Americain". Women & Music. doi:10.1353/wam.2007.0017. S2CID 144137483. Archived from the original on 2016-03-14. Retrieved 10 January 2016 – via HighBeam Research.
  11. ^ Davis, Peter G. (6 September 1981). "Five Black Artists Are Featured on a New Label". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  12. ^ Page, Tim (30 June 1985). "Opera World Premier of 'Frederick Douglass'". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  13. ^ Cheatham, Wallace (1997). Dialogues on Opera and the African-American Experience. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 69. ISBN 0810831473.

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