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On this date in 1904, Undine Smith Moore was born. She was a Black composer, pianist, choir director, and educator.
Undine Smith was the youngest child of James William Smith and Hardie Turnbull Smith. From Jarratt, VA., the family moved to Petersburg in 1908, and at age seven, Undine began piano lessons with Lillian Allen Darden. In 1924 she received the first scholarship from the Julliard Graduate School to study music at Fisk University. She received her undergraduate degree from Fisk, and also attended the Eastman School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and Columbia University Teachers College, where she received an M.A. and a professional diploma.
She taught in the public schools in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and was appointed to the faculty of Virginia State College in 1927, where she taught until her retirement in 1972.
Moore co-founded and co-directed the Black Music Center at Virginia State from 1969-72. The Center was responsible for bringing to the campus leading Black composers, performers, and lecturers. She received an honorary doctorate of music from both Virginia State College (1972) and Indiana University (1976).
Moore wrote in many musical genres, including compositions for solo voice, chamber ensemble, various solo instruments, and a large number of choral works. Her best-known compositions include Afro-American Suite for Flute, Cello, and Piano recorded by Trio Pro Viva; The Lamb recorded by the Virginia State College Choir and the St. Stephens Church Choir; Lord, We Give Thanks to Thee, commissioned by Fisk University; and Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord, recorded by the Virginia State College Choir, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and the Oberlin College Choir, among others.
As a direct result of her innovative and influential teaching, many of her students have become celebrated musicians and composers. Undine Moore died in February 1989.
Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York