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Dorothy Rudd Moore

Female | Composers


Born on June 4, 1940, in New Castle, Delaware; died March 3, 2022, in New York, married to Kermit Moore (the cellist) Education: Howard University, BMus, 1963; attended American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, 1963; private study with Chou Wen Chung, 1965; private voice lessons with Lola Hayes, 1972. Memberships: American Composers Alliance; BMI; New York Singing Teachers Association; New York Women Composers. Career Composer; Harlem School of the Arts, teacher, 1965-66; New York University, teacher 1969; Bronx Community College, teacher, 1971; private piano, voice, sight-singing, and ear-training teacher, 1968-. Life's Work Dorothy Rudd Moore, considered one of her generation's leading woman composers of color, has received commissions from such orchestras as the National Symphony, Opera Ebony, and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

Her work, which includes chamber pieces, song cycles, orchestral music, and an opera, is admired for its high level of artistry and its seriousness of purpose. Dorothy Rudd was born on June 4, 1940, in New Castle, Delaware. From a very early age, she loved music--an interest that her mother, a singer, actively supported. "I never knew a time when I wasn't interested in music," she observed to William C. Banfield in Musical Landscapes in Color. As a young girl, Moore listened to performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra, with Eugene Ormandy conducting, an experience that she cherished. She also made up songs and music for herself, as part of her play. "I didn't even know that the word 'composer' existed," she commented in Musical Landscapes in Color. "I just used to do the music." Her parents, who sent her to public schools in nearby Wilmington, encouraged her to explore all of her interests, and provided her with piano lessons. By her teens, Moore knew that she wanted to become a composer. Yet there were few role models in this field for a young black woman.

As she noted in remarks quoted in International Dictionary of Black Composers, it seemed that all composers must be "male, white, and dead." Moore's parents fully supported her ambitions. She continued her study of piano at Wilmington School of Music, and became a student of Howard High School teacher (and later, Music Superintendent of Wilmington Public Schools) Harry Andrews. Moore learned to play clarinet so that she could join the all-male band at Howard High. In addition, she was a member of the school orchestra, studied music theory, and sang in the school choir and in her church choir. Though Moore considered attending Harvard University, she decided instead to enroll at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she began as a music education major. Excelled in Music as a University Student At Howard, Moore studied with Dean Warner Lawson, Thomas Kerr, and Mark Fax, who supported her decision to change her major to composition.

Her works have been performed throughout the United States as well as in Europe and Asia. Awards Lucy Moten Fellowship, 1963; American Music Center Grant, 1972; New York State Council on the Arts Grant, 1985; several Meet the Composer grants. Works Selected works * Reflections (symphonic wind ensemble), 1962. * Twelve Quatrains from the Rubaiyat (song cycle for soprano and oboe), 1962. * Symphony No. 1, 1963. * Baroque Suite for Cello (chamber piece), 1965. * Three Pieces for Violin and Piano, 1967. * Modes (string quartet), 1968. * Lament for Nine Instruments (flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, percussion,, violin, viola, and cello), 1969. * From the Dark Tower (mezzo-soprano voice, cello, and piano), 1970. * Dirge and Deliverance (cello) 1971. * Sonnets on Love, Rosebuds, and Death (soprano voice, violin, and piano), 1975. * Dream and Variations (piano), 1974. * In Celebration (chorus, soprano and baritone solos, and piano), 1977. * Weary Blues (baritone voice, cello, and piano), 1979. * Frederick Douglass (opera), 1981-85. Libretto also by the composer. * A Little Whimsy (piano), 1982. * Transcension (chamber orchestra), 1985-86. * Flowers of Darkness (song cycle, tenor voice and piano), 1988-89. Further Reading Books * Banfield, William C., Musical Landscapes in Color: Conversations with Black American Composer, Scarecrow Press, 2003. * Floyd, Samuel A., ed., International Dictionary of Black Composers, Vol. 2. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1999. Periodicals * American Music, Spring, 1988. * Washington Post, February 19, 1987; May 18, 1988. — E. Shostak

Click here for art songs by Dorothy Rudd Moore

PHOTO BY BERT ANDREWS, from ACA Archives, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland.

***Notice: Any recordings of songs or vocal music by Dorothy Rudd Moore need to be licensed and clearances obtained from all legal rightsholders, including text authors and their estates. Purchase of a score does not transfer recording rights.


2017 Adams-Owens Composition Prize (inaugural award)


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