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On this date, we recognize the birth of Natalie Hinderas in 1927. She was a Black pianist and composer.
She was born Natalie Leota Henderson Hinderas, in Oberlin, Ohio to a musical family; her father (Abram) was a jazz pianist and her mother Leota Palmer was a classical pianist who taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Natalie Hinderas began playing at the age of three, with formal lessons (piano and violin) beginning at six years of age. A child prodigy, she gave her first full-length recital at eight years old.
In 1945, she received her B.S. in Music from Oberlin Conservatory as their youngest student. Assuming the name Natalie Hinderas, she did her post-graduate work at the Julliard School of Music with Olga Samaroff and at the Philadelphia Conservatory with Edward Steuermann. In 1954, she made her Town Hall debut, receiving critical acclaim. From this point in her career, she toured America, Europe, and the West Indies, with two tours of Africa and Asia sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
In the mid-1950s, Hinderas signed a contract with NBC to perform in their owned and operated stations around the United States, playing recitals, concertos, and variety shows. She was the first Black to perform a subscription concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1971, after which many other concerts followed. Some of the other venues where she played were the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Cleveland, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago symphony orchestras. Hinderas’ performances included the Schumann Piano Concerto, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2.
Throughout her career, she promoted and recorded works by Black performers and composers, among them R. Nathaniel Dett, William Grant Still, John W. Work, and George Walker. She received a number of awards and degrees including the Martha Baird Rockefeller fellowship and an honorary doctorate degree from Swarthmore College. Natalie Hinderas was a full professor at Temple University at the time of her death on July 22, 1987.
The Encyclopedia of African American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York