On Beethoven, Blackness, and Belonging: Debating Classical Music in the Black Atlantic

Friday, Mar 5, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Musician with neon instruments. credit: Unsplash, Spencer Imbrock

Part of the Music Performance Studies Today Series

Image credit: Unsplash, Spencer Imbrock

What has classical music meant to Black people? Why have African Americans listened to and performed a genre of music that many Americans now consider to be white, elitist, and Eurocentric? Such accusations aren’t inaccurate: for example, African Americans represent only 1.8 percent of all orchestra musicians today. In this presentation, Professor Kira Thurman turns to the past to consider how African Americans made classical music a meaningful part of their lives. Examining the lives and careers of intellectuals such as W.E.B. DuBois and classical musicians such as Marian Anderson, Thurman argues that African Americans incorporated art music into their Black international and Black diasporic politics. Looking beyond America’s shores, they found a larger and vibrant Black history of classical music that they could also claim.

Dr. Kira Thurman, “On Beethoven, Blackness, and Belonging: Debating Classical Music in the Black Atlantic.”

Presented by the UCLA Center for Musical Humanities and the UCLA Music Library, in collaboration with co-organizers Pheaross Graham (UCLA) and Farrah O’Shea (UCLA).

The UCLA Robert U. Nelson Lecture Series is hosted by the Center for Musical Humanities.

This lecture is made possible by the Joyce S. and Robert U. Nelson Fund. Robert Uriel Nelson was a revered musicologist and music professor at UCLA, who, together with his wife, established a generous endowment for the university to make programs like this possible.

For more information and the full schedule, or for tickets, please see Music Performance Studies Today

Series events:

Performing Capitalism and Neoliberalism

Anti-Blackness in Western Classical Music

The Ephemerality of Musical Hearing

21st-Century Pianism: Retrospection, New Directions, and Interpretative Communities

Methods in Music Performance Studies

Performance, Gestures, Electronics


Other Events on Friday, March 5th