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1 - Margaret Bonds’s Societal Mission and The Montgomery Variations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2023

John Michael Cooper
Affiliation:
Southwestern University, Texas
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Summary

Margaret Bonds’s upbringing and education inculcated in her a profound sense of pride in her racial and familial heritage and an equally profound sense of obligation to “go farther” than those who came before her in using her art for the betterment of the lives of others. Moving from her youth through her years as a struggling musician in New York and Los Angeles during the Depression and World War II, through her ascendance to national and international fame, this chapter traces the development of these themes in her personal philosophy and compositional work over the period ca. 1939–63 in works including the incidental music to Shakespeare in Harlem, The Ballad of the Brown King, and Simon Bore the Cross, leading to their coalescence in The Montgomery Variations (1963–64). The Variations thus emerges as the summit of Bonds’s works centered on the theme of racial justice up to that point.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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