Price: $125.00


Autographed prepared envelope by the African-American violinist and composer, January 3, 1953.

Clarence Cameron White (1880-1960) was born in Tennessee.  He began his violin lessons at the age of eight and within a few years moved on to study in Washington D.C. with African American violinist and composer, Will Marion Cook who had recently returned from Berlin where he studied with Joachim pupil Heinrich Jacobson, he would later study composition with Antonin Dvorak in America.  White also studied with the African-American concert violinist Joseph Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s nephew.   White’s success and at the suggestion of Cook, he was admitted to Oberlin, where Cook had attended prior to his time in Germany.  White studied with Frederick Doolittle at Oberlin who had been Cook’s pedagogue.  White left Oberlin without a degree in 1901 when he was offered a job teaching violin in nearby Pittsburgh which did not last.  He then was then awarded a scholarship to study with Franz Micki in Connecticut at the Hartford School of Music.  Marion Anderson and Roland Hayes’s teacher Emma Hackley raised further money for White and he went to study composition in England with Samuel Coleridge Taylor in 1906. That year he played in Taylor’s “String Players Club of Croydon”.  He also studied in England in 1908 and 1910 with the Russian born concert violinist Michael Zacharewitsch.  When he came back to America he moved to Boston,  played violin recitals and concerts with orchestra.  He also founded the Victoria Concert Orchestra which he conducted from 1914-1924.  He moved to West Virginia in 1924 when he was appointed Director of Music, at West Virginia State College where he stayed until 1931.  He was awareded the Harmon Prize in 1927.  In 1930 with a grant from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation he spent time in Paris studying with composer Raoul Laparra. 

His early works were written in the neo romantic style.  However, after he was heard by Harry T. Burleigh, Lawrence Dunbar and Booker T. Washington, all intellectual leaders in the African American community, his composition directions changed towards African American music and Black world music.  He arranged spirituals, he wrote a series of compositions on Haitian themes; his opera, “Ouanag” or “Voodoo Charms” was based upon the life of the first Haitian emperor Jean-Jacques Dessaline. The opera won the David Bispham Prize in 1933, and the American Opera Society of Chicago prize.  The work was staged in Chicago, Philadelphia and in concert form at Carnegie Hall.  The work was also performed in the Metropolitan Opera stage produced by Harry Burleigh’s company, but was not a Metropolitan Opera production.  He lived at various times in Chicago and New Jersey and eventually settled in New York City after the death of his first wife.  As a violinist, he was considered the finest African-American violinist of his time.  He earned the respect of Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler and Albert Spaulding who programmed his violin works in their concerts and both recorded several of his works as well.  White as a composer wrote a Symphony in D minor, a “Negro Rhapsody for Orchestra”, Elegy for Orchestra, the ballet “A Night in San Souci”, the Cantata “Heritage”, incidental music to the play “Tambour”, a string quartet, numerous solo violin pieces which he would often play in concert and an edition of his own arrangements of spirituals.  His most popular work for solo violin was “Bandana Sketches”.  Heifetz recorded his “Levee Dance”, “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and “Deep River”.  “Levee Dance” was frequently programmed in his concerts.  Kreisler recorded “Chant” from “Bandana Sketches” based on the old spiritual, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”.   

A rather rare autograph in any form.   



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