T. J. Anderson

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Thomas Jefferson "T.J." Anderson, Jr.[1] (born August 17, 1928) is an American composer, conductor, orchestrator and educator.[2]

Early Life[edit]

Born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Anderson has written over 80 works ranging from operas and symphonies to choral pieces, chamber music, and band music. He has composed commissioned works for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and cellist Yo Yo Ma.[citation needed]


The beginning of his college education was at West Virginia State College. He then attended Pennsylvania State University and received his bachelors degree there in music. Afterwards at that same school in 1951 he got his masters degree in music education. [3] He earned a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Iowa in 1958,[4] was composer in residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from 1968 to 1971, and was Austin Fletcher Professor of Music Emeritus at Tufts University, from 1972 to his retirement in 1990.[5]

Work and Musical Influence[edit]

T.J. Anderson worked at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma as a music professor from 1958 to 1963. There, he became the chair of the music department. He was professor of music at Tennessee State University from 1963 to 1969. while there he was named composer in residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He had a three year tenure with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from 1968 to 1971. [6]

During the period of time he spent with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, T.J. Anderson orchestrated Scott Joplin's opera, Treemonisha, originally written in 1911. In 1972, Joplin's opera appeared on stage in full for the very first time. The first opera that T.J. Anderson wrote was Soldier Boy. This work was inspired by and based on a libretto by Leon Forrest, who was a good friend of Anderson. Soldier Boy was commissioned by Indiana University.

In 1972, T.J. Anderson was hired as a professor of music and department chair at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, where he worked until 1990.

T.J. Anderson also taught at institutions in France, Brazil, Switzerland, Italy and Germany.

Awards and Honors[edit]

In 1983, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 2005, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.[7]. In 2007, Tufts University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Music.


Anderson has three children: Janet, Anita, and Thomas J. Anderson, III (who also goes by "T.J."), is a poet and professor of English at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. The younger Anderson is married to Pauline Kaldas, a poet, author, and fellow English professor at Hollins University.

Unitarian Universalist Work[edit]

T.J. Anderson served from 1986 to 1991 on the commission that produced Singing the Living Tradition, a hymnal published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1993. He is a member of the U.U. congregation at Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


  1. ^ Harvard Dictionary of Music.
  2. ^ Robin, William (August 8, 2014). "Great Divide at the Concert Hall: Black Composers Discuss the Role of Race". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  3. ^ http://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/tj-anderson-42. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ University of Iowa: Alumni & Friends Reunion 2006.
  5. ^ Emeritus Faculty - Tufts Department of Music.
  6. ^ http://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/tj-anderson-42. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Bates College: Citation for Thomas Jefferson "T.J." Anderson


  • Perkins Holly, Ellistine. Biographies of Black Composers and Songwriters; A Supplementary Textbook. Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Publishers, 1990.

External links[edit]