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Hale Smith

Male | Composers



Hale Smith, free-lance composer, arranger, and teacher, received his B.M. (1950) and his M.M. (1958) from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Marcel Dick, Wark Lewis, and others. He has served on the faculty at the University of Connecticut (Storrs) and the C.W. Post College (Long Island, New York), as editor for the E. B. Marks and Sam Fox music publishers, and music consultant for the C.F. Peters Corporation. Snith has received honors and Awards including the BMI's Student Composers Award (1952), the Music Award of the Cleveland Arts Prize (1973), and commissions from BMI, Frank Music Corp., Tougaloo College, and others. A contemporary composer, Smith uses traditional chords as well as twelve-tone chord varieties in third stream music, popular and art music, and jazz arranging. His best known and recorded compositions are Contours (CRI SD - 301), Contours (Louisville - 632) and Evocation (Desto - DC 7102 -7103).

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


The first all Hale Smith program was presented on 29 May 1955 at the Karamu Procenium Theatre. This auspicious event saw the premiere of two of Smith's most significant works for voice, his song cycles "The Valley Wind" (then entitled Four Songs) and "Beyond the Rim of Day." He has gone on to create many other works in various genres. Significant works for voice include, "Two Love Songs of John Donne for soprano and nine instruments", "Two Songs for Soprano and Violin", "Three Patterson Lyrics", and several moving spiritual arrangements which reflect a strong jazz influence.

"Beyond the Rim of Day" was composed in 1950, but was published in 1970 by Marks Music. The poetry is that of Langston Hughes. It is for high voice and piano and consists of three songs. A fourth song, on poetry by Anne Spencer, was entitled "Innocence." It was deleted for the present publication. The set lasts approximately eight minutes, in which time one woman's development from youth to defeat and, ultimately, death are presented."The piano score is intensely reflective of the text and calls for various soft effects with trills, tremolo, sostenuto pedaling, and cluster chords. Many specific markings are given for the pianist." (Carman 1977, 22) A lyric voice is called for here, being required to sing some disjunct melodies, soft and loud high tones, and enunciation of the delicate and emotive texts. Both performers of this cycle must be mature, advanced musicians.

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March Moon

Troubled Woman

To a Little Lover-Lass, Dead

Compositions via Edward B. Marks

Compositions via Theodore Presser Company




Published Work