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Cunningham, Arthur, 1974 Fall

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Composer Arthur Cunningham delivered a lecture in the fall of 1974 (2015-0002/RR131). Arthur Cunningham was an American composer and educator. His students included singer Kate Davidson, producer/engineer Peter Francovilla, and pianist John Ellis.


  • 1974 Fall


Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.

Biographical / Historical

Arthur Cunningham (11 November 1928 - 31 March 1997) was a well-known composer and pianist active in New York City from the 1950s to the 1990s. Cunningham began writing music at the age of 12 to be performed with his jazz band. He attended Fisk University (BA 1951), Juilliard, (1951–1952) and Columbia University's Teachers College, attaining his Master's in 1957. The National Association of Negro Musicians gave a concert of his works in 1951. Cunningham served in the United States Army from 1955 to 1957 and wrote music for army bands, as well as for television. Early in his career, Cunningham gained recognition for composing large-scale symphonic works, yet he did compose a large number of choral and instrumental pieces during this time as well. Later in his life Cunningham began to focus on jazz piano playing, and vocal teaching and coaching. He toured as a lecturer and conductor of his own works and performed as a jazz pianist and accompanist for his wife, Kate Davidson, a cabaret singer.

Cunningham wrote seven large-scale works for the stage between 1963 and 1973, mixing many styles of popular music including jazz, gospel and rock. Some of his words are similar to, and predate, rock opera.

Returning to classical composition near the end of his life, Cunningham's piece, Concentrics, was performed by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta in 1989. In addition, Cunningham's compositions often combine elements of classical music and popular music genres such as jazz, rock, and gospel. Some of Cunningham's music even ventured into the atonal realm with the incorporation of tone rows in his piece Engrams. Arthur Cunningham died 31 March 1997 in Nyack, New York, at the age of 68.

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1 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recording) : Reel 131 1 reel, 1:05:48; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.

Language of Materials

From the Series: English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
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