One of the foremost Black violinist and neoromantic composer of the early 20th century


Clarence Cameron White

Clarence Cameron White

Clarence Cameron White, considered the foremost Black violinist and neoromantic composer of the early 20th century, spent just two years in Clarksville, his birthplace. His family left shortly after the death of his father in 1882 — White was 2 years old.

His mother, violinist Jennie Scott White, moved the family to Ohio where she previously studied music), Chattanooga and Washington, D.C., where as a pre-teen he studied under Will Marion Cook, a Black composer, violinist and choral director. White was tutored and supported financially by an extensive list of music giants.  

White traveled the world, from London to Haiti, in search of inspirational material. His compositions evolved from “neo-romantic in style to inspired by Black folk music,” according to the Library of Congress. His work included “Forty Negro Spirituals,” “Kutamba Rhapsody,” “Symphony in D Minor” and “A Night in Sans Souci.” In 1928, he composed the score to “Ouanga!,” an opera based on Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of the leaders of the 1804 Haitian revolution.

White died June 30, 1960, in New York at age 80.

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