Justin Holland pioneered 19th century classic guitar
The birth of Justin Holland in 1819 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black classical musician.
Born in Norfolk County, Virginia his father, Exum Holland, was a farmer who noticed his son's talent for music at an early age. There was little opportunity for educating his talent, however. But in 1833, he went to Boston and met Senor Mariano Perez and began the study of the guitar. Another of his music teachers was Simon Knable, a member of Ned Kendall's Brass Band, who taught Holland the theory and the art of arranging. At this time, Holland also undertook the study of flute with a Scotsman named Pollock.
In 1841, he entered Oberlin College in Ohio for another two years of musical study. After some travel involving a trip to Mexico to further his language skills, he returned to Ohio, married, and settled in Cleveland. He was perhaps the first Black man to make an important contribution to the classic guitar. "Holland's Method," published in 1876, stands as one of the finest mixture of guitar pedagogy to appear in America in the 19th century.
Justin Holland died in 1887.
The biographical dictionary of Black Americans
by Rachel Krantz and Elizabeth A.Ryan
Copyright 1992, Facts on File, New York, NY
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