Cover art for podcast Rhapsody in Black

Rhapsody in Black

23 EpisodesProduced by YourClassicalWebsite

Rhapsody in Black, from YourClassical, is an ecstatic exploration of classical music that’s aesthetically and uncompromisingly Black. Join host Tesfa Wondemagegnehu as he examines the impact of Black composers and performers on the genre.

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Singer, rapper and flutist Lizzo continues to shatter classical music stereotypes

June 30th, 2022


Singer, rapper and flutist Lizzo was introduced to music from an early age through the church and marching band. Her love for the community marching band gave to her growing up is consistently influencing her music. …

Composer Fela Sowande is considered the father of Nigerian art music

June 23rd, 2022


Composer Fela Sowande was introduced to classical and church music from an early age. While he was successful as a musician, he moved to London in …

Violinist George Bridgetower left his mark on Beethoven

June 16th, 2022


Violinist and composer George Bridgetower was good friends with Ludwig Van Beethoven. So much so that Beethoven wrote a violin sonata just for him. …

Bass baritone Ryan Speedo Green has beaten the odds

June 9th, 2022


Bass baritone Ryan Speedo Green has experienced an all-too-familiar upbringing that is similar to many troubled Black youths in America. But with the support of an outstanding teacher, he beat the odds to become a …

George Walker is a composer of many firsts

June 2nd, 2022


George Walker is credited with many firsts throughout his career. Despite all his success, his career was greatly stunted by racism and neglect. Find out more in the latest episode of the 'Rhapsody in Black' podcast.

Undine Smith Moore understood the art of teaching

May 26th, 2022


Undine Smith Moore knew the importance of music education from an early age. But despite her success, she still doubted her abilities and accomplishments as a composer, citing racism. Find out more in the latest episode …

Explore Martin Luther King Jr.'s musical side

May 19th, 2022


Martin Luther King Jr.’s life often focuses on his pivotal moments such as his "I Have a Dream" speech. But music filled and inspired his most intimate moments that made him the leader he is remembered as today. Find …

Singer Paul Robeson risked it all for social change

May 12th, 2022


Singer Paul Robeson had a commanding physical presence, but it was his intense bass voice that led him to popularity. His successful career as an …

Composer Adolphus Hailstork amplifies Black voices with his music

May 5th, 2022


Composer Adolphus Hailstork has had his music performed by major orchestras and ensembles around the world since the 1970s. He has always used his …

Choral conductor Anton Armstrong shares the beauty of song

April 28th, 2022


Choral conductor Anton Armstrong has been sharing the power and beauty of singing since he was a child. His work in choral music involves breaking …

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de St. George, is not 'the Black Mozart'

April 21st, 2022


Guadeloupean Creole composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de St. George, was born to a slave woman and rose to join French aristocratic circles as a …

Jessie Montgomery does more than just compose

April 14th, 2022


Composer Jessie Montgomery is in a constant state of creation. She actively plays violin and teaches, while composing award-winning pieces. Find out …

William Grant Still, the dean of African American composers

April 7th, 2022


Composer William Grant Still is the record holder for many firsts in the Black classical world. His ‘Afro-American Symphony’ was the first to be …

Composer Omar Thomas speaks to the importance of representation

March 31st, 2022


Composer Omar Thomas remembers never playing music in concert band that celebrates Black traditions while he was growing up. He has made it his mission to create music that speak directly to the issues of …

Composer Nkeiru Okoye has a sound all her own

March 24th, 2022


Composer Nkeiru Okoye doesn’t fit neatly into any kind of classical category. Her compositions showcase her genius by incorporating different types of musical styles that help create a sound that’s uniquely hers. Find …

Scott Joplin's love for opera and ballet

March 17th, 2022


Composer Scott Joplin is best known for his ragtime piano compositions that include ‘The Maple Leaf Rag’ and ‘The Entertainer.’ Like many other Black artists, he composed so much more than that! Find out more about …

Julius Eastman's brilliant, beautiful and challenging life

March 10th, 2022


Composer Julius Eastman’s personal philosophy was “to be what I am to the fullest. Black to the fullest, a musician to the fullest, and a homosexual …

Henry T. Burleigh and his new American sound

March 3rd, 2022


Baritone Henry T. Burleigh is a forgotten figure in American music history. His singing caught the attention of Antonin Dvorak, who made Burleigh his assistant. Find out more in the latest episode of the 'Rhapsody in …

Singer Marian Anderson triumphed over obstacles

February 24th, 2022


Contralto Marian Anderson sang her way to the top. Despite racism and sexism, she found support from first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and sang at the …

Justin Holland and his guitar

February 17th, 2022


Justin Holland is not the first name that people think of when asked about the classical guitar. It might come as a surprise that one of the best …

Margaret Bonds and the words of Langston Hughes

February 10th, 2022


Margaret Bonds dealt with racism as she broke barriers for future generations of Black women composers. Find out how the words and friendship of renowned Black novelist Langston Hughes helped her with that struggle in …

Florence Price meets Frederick Stock

February 3rd, 2022


Composer Florence Price dealt with many systemic barriers in her pursuit of musical greatness. In the first episode of the ‘Rhapsody in Black’ podcast, find out how her hard work paid off after she won a composition …

Coming soon: Tesfa Wondemagegnehu hosts 'Rhapsody in Black'

January 31st, 2022


Listen to our new podcast Rhapsody in Black, an exploration of classical music that’s aesthetically and uncompromisingly Black. Tesfa Wondemagegnehu hosts this 5-minute weekly program, which launches Thursday. Listen to …

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