Walter Dyett

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Walter Dyett
Walter Dyett.jpg
Dyett (cira. 1958)
Born Walter Henri Dyett
January 11, 1901[1]
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died November 17, 1969(1969-11-17) (aged 68)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality African–American
Education University of California, Berkeley
VanderCook College of Music
Occupation Violinist, music educator
Years active 1931–62
Known for Music director at DuSable High School
Music director at Phillips High School

Walter Henri Dyett (also known as Captain Walter Henri Dyett; January 11, 1901 – November 17, 1969) was an American violinist and music educator in the Chicago Public Schools system. He served as music director and assistant music director at Chicago's predominately African-American high schools; Phillips High School and DuSable High School. Dyett served as musical director at DuSable High School from its opening in 1935 until 1962. He trained many students who went on to become well-known musicians.


After studying pre-medical courses at University of California, Berkeley, Dyett moved back home to Chicago, where he worked in vaudeville orchestras and directed an Army band, after which he was known as Captain Dyett. In 1931 he became assistant musical director and later musical director at Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago, and in 1935 moved to DuSable High School when it opened.[2] He earned his B.M. degree at VanderCook College of Music (Chicago) in 1938, and his M.M. degree at the Chicago Musical College in 1942.

DuSable High School[edit]

His program at DuSable quickly acquired an excellent reputation, in particular through an annual revue called Hi Jinks, which he staged to raise money for the program, and attracted the best high school musicians in Chicago. Dyett was known for his discerning ear and strict discipline, for encouraging his students to study and play music of all types instead of concentrating on just one, for his ability to motivate his students to succeed, for being a mentor to graduated students, for insisting that all students take private instruction (which he often arranged at low cost), for the thoroughness of his program, and above all for a vast store of musical knowledge that he could draw on to provide new advice to students whenever he met them.[citation needed]


Among the musicians who studied in Dyett's program are:


Dyett died on November 17, 1969 at age 68.[7] He is commemorated by Dyett High School, a Chicago public high school located in the Washington Park neighborhood in Chicago.[8][9]


  • "DU SABLE HIGH MUSIC CHIEF A STAR MAKER by Roi Ottley - Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); Jan 9, 1960; pg. B12" for more biographical information.
  • An Autobiobraphy of Black Jazz by Dempsey J. Travis (1983)