Many biographical sources on Beethoven, including the dramatic film Immortal Beloved (based on his life), corroborate the fact that Ludwig Van Beethoven's father was a Moor, a term used in Europe to distinguish those of Andalusians and/or African Descent, including the Mauritanians, Berbers and other North Africans living in Europe. The Moor’s influence is seen in the Arabesques of Spanish architecture.
In U.S. laws, history and customs, if one parent is of African Descent (and Africa is quite a large continent with a rich array of cultures, customs, religions and peoples); then the offspring is "Black." Note: Presenting... refers to African descriptor to define the origins of composers, rather than the term Black - essentially a code used to distinguish skin color (which it really does not). The term Black also historically codes a construct - race. If that doesn't ring true, recall the confusing and limiting options for identifying oneself on the last U. S. Census form. Is it one’s country/nation, one’s skin, one’s religion or something else that defines a group from another? Invariably, race is used as code in societies as basis for advantaging one group over another.
The term "Black" - Noir in French, is used in legal documents (codes) of the 17th century, signed by Louis XIV, King of France, to enforce distinctions of social/economic class and privilege. In practice, the distinctions extended to England and other countries, Citations follow:
Why discuss History, race and Music?
Context Is Everything.
Presenting... starts with the premise/reality that composers do not create in a vacuum. To give context to composers, the music they create; it is insightful and essential to appreciate the conditions and inspiration for what the composer is expressing with music.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Omar, for example, is a story about a well-educated Fulani (one of the largest groups of people scattered throughout the Sahel and West Africa), who had studied the Qur'an intensely. Omar was enslaved in the U. S. His story of religious knowledge, language and culture is epic and enlightening, in the face of an oppressive system that forced Roman Catholic and Christian religion on all enslaved,.
In this current age of banning books, thoughts, bodily autonomy, truth and cultures, what will follow? - Burning books AGAIN, to expunge what does not match a singular perspective? Now more than ever, we cannot simply erase from the global repertoire in classical music - and from our cultural awareness and embrace - the brilliant works of George Walker, Florence Price, Joseph Bologne (aka Chevalier of St Georges), Vicente Lusitano, William Grant Still, Tania Leon..... that enrich the canon of classical music. Composers document the times in which they live, reflect upon; offering a record of culture and society in art forms that are healing and as essential to the human well-being as are food, air & water, shelter and other components of living. Can you imagine a society without music?