Dorothy Rudd Moore

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<p><p>The mathematical aspects of music especially appealed to her; she has<br />
noted that the logical structure of Bach and the inventiveness of Duke<br />
Ellington were both major influences. In fact, Ellington inspired the<br />
young composer's first work, "Flight," a solo piano piece that Moore<br />
wrote at age sixteen. Howard University's music school had a symphonic<br />
wind ensemble contest, which Moore and six male students entered, using<br />
pseudonyms as required to eliminate any bias in judging. Her piece,<br />
"Reflections of Life," won the competition and was performed in concert.<br />
Her Symphony Number One, also written for a student competition at<br />
Howard, received the prize and was performed by the National Symphony.<br />
After finishing her studies at Howard, Moore went to France to study<br />
with renowned teacher Nadia Boulanger at Fountainebleau. She then<br />
returned to the United States, settling in New York City and studying<br />
composition with Chou Wen Chung.</p><br />
<p>In New York, she met cellist Kermit Moore; they married in 1964.<br />
Their partnership has been described as one of mutual support and<br />
inspiration; indeed, Kermit Moore has commissioned and debuted several<br />
works by Dorothy Rudd Moore. In 1968 the Moores became founding members<br />
of the Society of Black Composers. "We felt that black composers didn't<br />
have any recognition," Dorothy Rudd Moore observed in Musical Landscapes<br />
in Color. "People now know about many of the [black] composers, and one<br />
of the reasons why people know is because of our organization." Though<br />
Moore received a traditional musical education and admired the works of<br />
the great classical composers, she also grew up hearing rhythm and<br />
blues, jazz, and spirituals, and these have also influenced her work.<br />
Several of her song cycles are based on poems by black writers. Weary<br />
Blues, a piece for baritone cello and piano, is set to a poem by<br />
Langston Hughes.</p><br />
<p><em>From the Dark Tower</em>, a cycle of eight songs for<br />
mezzo-soprano, cello, and piano that was commissioned by Kermit Moore,<br />
sets to music poems by James Weldon Johnson, Arna Bontemps, Herbert<br />
Clark Johnson, Langston Hughes, and Countee Cullen. Moore has called the<br />
piece her "black power statement," in reference to the pain and anger<br />
she felt at pervasive racism and class privilege. "You want to put out<br />
positive energies," she commented. "With all the turmoil that was going<br />
on then, I knew that I wouldn't go out, pick up a gun, and kill somebody<br />
or anything like that, even though I was very sympathetic to a group<br />
like the [Black] Panthers...I made my statement in this way...I do not<br />
write music in a vacuum, but I was thinking that communicating my ideas<br />
and emotions about the world would make a difference."</p><br />
<p>Inspired by African American Creativity The poems in From the Dark<br />
Tower, according to Helen Walker-Hill in International Dictionary of<br />
Black Composers, "are unified by the themes of affirmation of black<br />
creativity and anger at its frustration." The critic particularly<br />
admired Moore's references to spirituals in the cycle's first song, "O<br />
Black and Unknown Bard," by James Weldon Johnson: "the phrase 'Steal<br />
Away to Jesus' breaks the prevailing dissonance momentarily with the<br />
indescribably sweet consonance of traditional harmonies; 'Swing Low'<br />
echoes the rising and falling thirds of its tune; 'Nobody Knows the<br />
Trouble I See' is sung mournfully on repeated notes, while the piano<br />
softly plays the familiar melody as if from a great distance." The cycle<br />
ends with Cullen's "From the Dark Tower," which states "We shall not<br />
always plant while others sow.... We were not made eternally to weep!"</p><br />
<p>Among Moore's other vocal compositions set to texts by African American poets are <em>Flowers of Darkness,</em> a cycle of six songs; <em>Sonnets on Love, Rosebuds, and Death</em>, for soprano voice, violin, and piano; and <em>In Celebration,</em><br />
a collage of poems by Langston Hughes. When the latter piece was<br />
performed in 1988 as part of the Smithsonian's series "Music of the<br />
Black American Composer," Washington Post critic Norman Middleton<br />
praised is as a "richly scored work" that was "just one of many jewels"<br />
in the program. Moore herself has also written numerous poems, but has<br />
chosen not to set her own work to music. Moore's biggest project to<br />
date is her opera Frederick Douglass, commissioned by Opera Ebony. The<br />
composer worked for eight years on this piece, which is in three acts;<br />
she wrote the libretto as well as the music. The opera's premiere, in<br />
New York City, was conducted by Warren Wilson. Moore has taught at the<br />
Harlem School of the Arts, Bronx Community College, and New York<br />
University.</p></p>

Biography

Dorothy Rudd Moore (b. 1940) Harlem School of the Arts, teacher, 1965-66; New York University, teacher 1969; Bronx Community College, teacher, 1971; private piano, voice, sight-singing, and ear-training teacher, 1968-present. Considered one of her generation's leading composers of color, Dorothy has received commissions from the National Symphony, Opera Ebony, and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Her work, which includes chamber pieces, song cycles, orchestral music, and an opera, is admired for its high level of artistry and its seriousness of purpose. Moore's parents fully supported her ambitions to be a composer. She studied piano at the Wilmington School of Music, and became a student of Harry Andrews. Moore learned to play clarinet so that she could join the all-male band at Howard High. She graduated from Howard University in 1963 where she studied with Dean Warner Lawson, Thomas Kerr, and Mark Fax. She received the Lucy Moten Fellowship to study in France where she continued her studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in 1963 and Chou Wen-Chung in New York in 1965. In 1968 she became a co-founder of the Society of Black Composers in New York City.

Her works have been performed throughout the United States as well as in Europe and Asia. Other awards include an American Music Center Grant, 1972; New York State Council on the Arts Grant, 1985; several Meet the Composer grants. Her works, Dirge and Deliverance, and Songs from the Dark Tower were released by Performance Records in 1981. In 1985, the world premiere of her opera, Frederick Douglass, took place in New York City.

PHOTO BY BERT ANDREWS, from ACA Archives, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland.

***Notice: Any recordings of songs or vocal music by Dorothy Rudd Moore need to be licensed and clearances obtained from all legal rightsholders, including ACA, text authors and their estates. Purchase of a score does not transfer recording rights.

ACE Publications

31 song(s)
Year
Instrumentpiano
Ensemble Typesolo keyboard
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO
moore_dorothyrudd_a_little_whimsy.mp3
Audio file
Price
$7.25
Year
Instrumentcello
Ensemble Typesolo instrumental (non-keyboard)
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SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
$7.15
Year
InstrumentSoprano, piano
Ensemble Typeduo or ensemble+ keyboard
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SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
$11.95
Year
Instrumentpiano, cello
Ensemble Typesolo inst+keyboard
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO
moore_dirgedeliverance_part2excerpt.mp3
Audio file
Price
$17.95
Year
Instrumentpiano
Ensemble Typesolo keyboard
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
$12.50
Year
InstrumentTenor, piano
Ensemble Typevoice+keyboard
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
$17.75
Year
InstrumentBaritone (voice), piano
Ensemble Typevoice+keyboard
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
$10.00
Year
Instrument
Ensemble Typesolo voice(s)+large ensemble or orchestra
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
-
Year
InstrumentMezzo-Soprano, piano, cello
Ensemble Typesolo voice(s)+2 to 6 instruments
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SAMPLE AUDIO
ruddmooredarktower.mp3
Audio file
Price
$24.95
Year
InstrumentMezzo-Soprano
Ensemble Typesolo voice(s)+large ensemble or orchestra
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
$28.50
Year
InstrumentSoprano
Ensemble Typeduo or ensemble+ keyboard
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
-
Year
Instrumentchorus mixed (SATB)
Ensemble Typesolo voice(s)+large ensemble or orchestra, orchestra, choral accompanied, chorus+soloist(s)+orch/ens
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
$14.75
Year
Instrumentchorus mixed (SATB), Soprano, Baritone (voice), piano
Ensemble Typechoral accompanied
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SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
-
Year
InstrumentSoprano, piano
Ensemble Typevoice+keyboard
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
$8.95
Year
InstrumentSoprano, piano
Ensemble Typeduo or ensemble+ keyboard
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
-
Year
Instrumentviolin, violin ii, viola, cello
Ensemble Typestring quartet (alone or + inst or voc)
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO
mooremodes1.mp3
Audio file
Price
$22.50
Year
Instrumentviola, cello
Ensemble Typeduo inst or voices
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
$12.80
Year
Instrumentclarinet, piano
Ensemble Typesolo inst+keyboard, duo inst or voices
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SAMPLE AUDIO
ruddmoore_02_night_fantasy__allegroexcerpt.mp3
Audio file
Price
$14.50
Year
InstrumentSoprano, piano
Ensemble Typeduo or ensemble+ keyboard
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
-
Year
InstrumentSoprano, Mezzo-Soprano, piano
Ensemble Typevoice+keyboard
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SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
-
Year
InstrumentSoprano
Ensemble Typesolo voice(s)+large ensemble or orchestra
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SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
-
Year
Instrument
Ensemble Typesolo voice(s)+large ensemble or orchestra
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
-
Year
Instrumentpiano, violin, cello
Ensemble Typeduo or ensemble+ keyboard, instrumental trio
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO-
Price
$22.75
Year
InstrumentHigh Voice, piano, violin
Ensemble Typesolo voice(s)+2 to 6 instruments
Available Formats
SAMPLE AUDIO
mooresonnetslovejoy.mp3
Audio file
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mooresonnetslovesongfordarkgirl.mp3
Audio file
Price
$18.50
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Instrument
Ensemble Typeorchestra
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Price
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Additional Works