After years of celebrations of Black History Month, it is still not widely known that Black composers and musicians have been making enduring contributions to classical music for centuries.
More information about Black musicians is available on www.AfriClassical.com, a nonprofit educational Web site with brief biographies of 52 Black composers and musicians, a Black History Quiz and audio samples. The Southern Poverty Law Centerlistswww. AfriClassical.com second on a list of seven "must-visit destinations on the Internet."
Here are a few who are featuredatwww.Afri Classical.com:
• Le Chevalier de Saint-George, a fashionable Afro-French composer, violinist and conductor as well as Colonel of Black volunteers in the French Revolution. He regularly played music with Queen Marie-Antonietteat Versailles.
• George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower, a Black violin virtuoso who was accompanied on piano by Ludwig van Beethoven, who dedicated a sonata to him.
• Ignatius Sancho, an African born on a slave ship near Guinea. He eventually escaped and became a composer and author. Sancho was an abolitionist whose letters on slavery were published as a book after his death.
• John Blanke, a Black trumpeter at the court of KingHenryVIIIof England.
• Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins, an African American pianist born into slavery in Georgia in 1849. Wiggins was blind and autistic, yet he played over 7,000 classical works from memory. Nearly all of his enormous earnings went to his managers, even after Emancipation.
• Francis Johnson (1792-1844), an African American bugler in Philadelphia and leaderofanAfrican American band. Johnson's band was the first American band to make a European tour, in 1837. It played both social dances and military marches.
Webmaster Bill Zick of Ann Arbor is a retired administrative law judge and a former training officer for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.