Thompson, Leon, 1975 - 1978
Scope and Contents
Conductor Leon Thompson delivered 2 lectures. He spoke on 4/1/1975 (2015-0002/RR276) and 3/28/1978 (2015-0002/RR277). Thompson studied music at the Eastman School of Music and then went on to the University of Southern California to pursue his doctorate in conducting. In 1955, while teaching at West Virginia State College, Thompson was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Paris. While there he studied with Pierre Monteux, Nadia Boulanger, Howard Hanson, and George Szell.
From 1970-1980, Thompson was the Director of Educational Activities for the New York Philharmonic. While in that position, Thompson organized the “Celebration of Black Composers” in 1977. The “Celebration” was a five-part series of concerts, recitals, and choral music and was the first such festival undertaken by a major American orchestra. In addition, Thompson was the music director at the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
RR 276 Hale Smith introduces Dr. Leon Thompson who speaks about the Black experience in the arts, primarily in music. He encourages the class to ask questions.
RR 277 Hale Smith introduces Leon Thompson. Thompson speaks about his various educational roles with the New York Philharmonic, conductor, and the Music Assistance Fund (private foundation established to assist Black musicians into the major orchestras around the country).
- 1975 - 1978
Conditions Governing Access
Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.
Biographical / Historical
Dr. Leon Thompson was born on August 1, 1928, in Newport News, Va., and received a master's degree from the Eastman School of Music and a doctorate in conducting from the University of Southern California. He also studied with Pierre Monteux, Nadia Boulanger, Howard Hanson and George Szell, among others., a conductor, director of music at the Abyssinian Baptist Church and former director of educational activities for the New York Philharmonic. Dr. Thompson organized the 1977 "Celebration of Black Composers" by the Philharmonic, a five-program series of concerts, recitals and choral music that was the first such festival undertaken by a principal American orchestra. During his 10 years with the Philharmonic, from 1970 to 1980, he initiated yearly concerts with the All-City High School Orchestra. Dr. Thompson also held the title of Minister of Music at Harlem's Abyssinian Church.
Dr. Thompson died in June 1983 in Massanetta Springs, Va., where he was guest conductor at the All-State Music Festival. He was 55 years old and lived in Englewood, N.J.
[https://abyssinian.org/announcement/1970s-dr-leon-thompson/ / https://www.nytimes.com/1983/06/25/obituaries/leon-thompson-55-organized-concerts-on-black-composers.html
2 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recordings) : RR 276 1, reel, 0:51:57; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 277 1 reel, 0:58:08; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.
Language of Materials
From the Series: English
- African American conductors (Music) Subject Source: Fast
- African Americans Subject Source: Fast
- African Americans in popular culture Subject Source: Fast
- Black Experience in the Arts Course (University of Connecticut) -- Sound recordings Subject Source: Local sources