Noel DaCosta

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Noel DaCosta
Born(1929-12-24)December 24, 1929
Lagos, Nigeria
DiedApril 29, 2002(2002-04-29) (aged 72)
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation(s)Composer, violinist, conductor

Noel G. DaCosta (December 24, 1929 – April 29, 2002) was a Nigerian-Jamaican composer, jazz violinist, and choral conductor.

Early life and educational career[edit]

Noel DaCosta was born on December 24, 1929 Lagos, Nigeria to parents from Kingston, Jamaica, who were Salvation Army missionaries.[1] After returning to Jamaica while DaCosta was young, they emigrated to New York City, living in Harlem.[2] While in High School, he was inspired by one of his teachers to work in an artistic field.[1]

DaCosta completed his Bachelor's at Queens College in 1952 and his Master's in theory and composition at Columbia University in 1956, studying with Otto Luening and Jack Beeson. He studied with Luigi Dallapiccola in Florence, Italy under a Fulbright Fellowship, and shortly thereafter in 1961 took positions teaching at Hampton University and the City University of New York. In 1970 he accepted a position at Rutgers University, where he taught until 2001. He died the following year at the age of 72.[2]

Musical career[edit]

DaCosta was also a co-founder of the Society of Black Composers.[2] He was an accomplished violinist, playing his own works as well as both classical and jazz music; he played on albums by Les McCann, Roland Kirk, Bernard Purdie, Roberta Flack, McCoy Tyner, Donny Hathaway, Felix Cavaliere, Willis Jackson, Eddie Kendricks, and others.[3] His first music set to poetry being Tambourines by Langston Hughes. He also worked with choral groups, becoming the director of the Triad Choral in 1974, and played with both Symphony of the New World and several orchestras on Broadway theatre productions.[1]

DaCosta's works are marked by an infusion of elements of jazz, Caribbean music, and African music into the framework of Western classical music. The New York Times has described his music as "conservatively chromatic."[4]

Personal life[edit]

DaCosta was married to his wife Patricia, with whom he had a son and a daughter.[2]


  • Two Pieces for Unaccompanied Cello
  • Blue Mix
  • Silver Blue
  • Three Short Pieces for Alto Flute
  • The Singing Tortoise
  • Two Songs for Julie-Ju
  • Five Verses with Vamps
  • Round about the Mountain from Spiritual Set (1977)
  • Triofantasia for Violin, Viola and Cello
  • Ukom Memory Songs for Organ and Percussion
  • Epitaths
  • Hymn Tune and Variations on MARYTON for Organ
  • Generata for Organ and Strings


  1. ^ a b c Southern 1982, p. 91.
  2. ^ a b c d "Noel Da Costa, 82, Composer and Professor". The New York Times. May 20, 2002. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  3. ^ "Noel DaCosta". AllMusic. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  4. ^ Kozinn, Allan (June 12, 1993). "Classical Music in Review". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2016.


  • Southern, Eileen (1982). Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians. Westpoint, Conn: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313213-397.