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Bonds, Margaret (1913–1972)

Bonds, Margaret (1913–1972)

African-American composer, pianist, historian, and lecturer was known for her sacred and vocal compositions. Born Margaret Allison Richardson in Chicago, Illinois, on March 3, 1913; died in Los Angeles, California, on April 26, 1972; daughter of Estella C. Bonds (an organist); graduated from Northwestern University and then studied at Juilliard.

Margaret Bonds was five years old when she composed her first song. A classically trained musician, she began studying composition and piano with Florence B. Price and William Dawson at Northwestern University, receiving bachelor's and master degrees of music from that institution. After completing her studies, she attended the Juilliard School of Music in New York City where she studied with Robert Starer. Henry Levine, Roy Harris, and Emerson Harper. A brilliant student, Bonds received a Rosenwald fellowship, a National Association of Negro Musicians award, and a Rodman Wanamaker award. In the 1930s, she opened the Allied Arts Academy in Chicago, a school for ballet and music. Bonds became known for her arrangements of spirituals, and Leontyne Price commissioned her for several such recordings. In addition, Bonds composed art songs, popular

songs, theatrical and orchestral music, as well as piano pieces; she also appeared on radio in New York and Hollywood. Her works for piano featured jazz harmonies, spiritual materials, and social themes. Bonds served as musical director for several music theaters in New York. From 1968 to 1972, she worked with the inner-city Cultural Center in Los Angeles. A singer as well as a composer, in 1933 Bonds became the first black guest soloist to appear with the Chicago Symphony at the Chicago World's Fair. In 1967, she received the Alumni medal, Northwestern University's highest honor granted to alumni who have achieved eminence in their fields.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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