Cunningham, Arthur , black American composer; b. Piermont, N.Y, Nov. 11, 1928. He commenced piano studies at the age of six and was composing for his own jazz group when he was 12; he later received formal training at Fisk Univ. (B.A., 1951), Columbia Univ. Teachers Coll. (M.A., 1957), and the Juilliard School of Music. In addition to composing, he was active as a teacher and conductor. His output runs the gamut of styles and techniques, ranging from serious to rock.
Adagio for Oboe and Strings (1954); Night Lights for Orch. (1955); Lights across the Hudson, tone poem (1956); The Beauty Part, musical (1963); Violetta, musical (1963); Dialogues for Piano and Chamber Orch. (1966); Ballet for String Quartet and Jazz Quartet (1968); His Natural Grace, rock opera (1969); Harlem Suite, ballet (1971); Double-bass Concerto (1971); The Prince for Baritone and Orch. (1973); Rooster Rhapsody for Narrator and Orch. (1975); Crispus Attucks for Band (1976); Night Bird for Voice, Jazz Quintet, and Orch. (1978); also chamber pieces, piano pieces, choral part songs and suites, and songs.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire