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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
November 2023
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Book description

In her lifetime, African American composer Margaret Bonds was classical music's most intrepid social-justice activist. Furthermore, her Montgomery Variations (1964) and setting of W.E.B. Du Bois's iconic Civil Rights Credo (1965-67) were the musical summits of her activism. These works fell into obscurity after Bonds's death, but were recovered and published in 2020. Since widely performed, they are finally gaining a recognition long denied. This incisive book situates The Montgomery Variations and Credo in their political and biographical contexts, providing an interdisciplinary exploration that brings notables including Harry Burleigh, W.E.B. and Shirley Graham Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abbie Mitchell, Ned Rorem, and – especially – Langston Hughes into the works' collective ambit. The resulting brief, but instructive, appraisal introduces readers to two masterworks whose recovery is a modern musical milestone – and reveals their message to be one that, though born in the mid-twentieth century, speaks directly to our own time.

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  • Introduction
    pp 1-17


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