Monday, December 17, 2007

Rachel Eubanks (1922-2006), African American Composer, Taught Music 50 Years

[Kaleidoscope: Music by African-American Women; Helen Walker-Hill, piano; Gregory Walker, violin; Leonarda 339 (1995)]

Rachel Eubanks was born in San Jose, California Sept. 12, 1922. Jocelyn Y. Stewart wrote her obituary for the Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2006. Its title was: “Rachel Eubanks, 83; Music Teacher Set High Standards for Her Students for 50-Plus Years”. An excerpt from the composer's 1984 composition Five Interludes has been recorded by Helen Walker-Hill, piano; and Gregory Walker, violin; on the CD Kaleidoscope : Music by African American Women; Leonarda LE 339 (1995). Helen Walker-Hill writes in the liner notes:

“Rachel Eubanks (b. San Jose, California) received a B.A. degree from the University of California in 1945, an M.A. from Columbia University in 1947, and a D.M.A. from Pacific Western University in California in 1980. She also attended the Eastman School of Music, University of Southern California, and Westminster Choir College, and studied with Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory in France in the summer of 1977. Eubanks is the founder and director of the Eubanks Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. Her compositions include Cantata for Chorus and Orchestra, Symphonic Requiem for orchestra and four solo voices, Our God for seven instruments and solo voice on a text by Kahlil Gibran, chamber works, and many songs. Interludes for Piano, two of which are featured here, consist of five concentrated, introverted pieces in an atonal, contrapuntal idiom.”

Jocelyn Y. Stuart writes in the obituary:

“She began offering piano lessons from her apartment. In 1951 she opened a school at 47th and Figueroa streets, then moved to the Crenshaw location in 1963. In the 1970s and '80s, at the height of its prominence, the school offered associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees in instruments, voice performance, theory, composition and music history.

Margie Evans, founder of Los Angeles Music Week, called Eubanks an unsung pioneer whose work benefited students who otherwise might not have had exposure to the kind of training for which her school was known.” Rachel Eubanks played the alto horn and clarinet before switching to piano in elementary school, Stuart tells us. The obituary adds:

“Eubanks wrote for orchestra, smaller instrumental groups and vocal ensembles, and her compositions included pieces that reflected her interest in the music of various cultures.

Her many works, secular and sacred, won her recognition in the International Dictionary of Black Composers and the National Assn. of Negro Musicians.”

Sources of the sheet music of Rachel Eubanks include and

Rachel+Eubanks" rel="tag">Rachel Eubanks
classical+music" rel="tag">classical music
Black+Composer" rel="tag">Black Composer
African+American" rel="tag">African American
Music+Teacher" rel="tag">Music Teacher
Black+Pianist" rel="tag">Black Pianist

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