Joseph Douglass: A Groundbreaking Musician

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#1
Joseph Douglas.jpg

Frederick Douglass with grandson Joseph. Circa 1893 from the Randolph Linsly Simpson African-American collection.
Joseph Douglass was a groundbreaking African-American concert violinist and the grandson of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. His talent is sometimes attributed to Frederick who was a talented amateur violin player.

Joseph was among the first African-American performers to be considered nationally and internationally renowned. His performance at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition at the age of 22 brought him into the spotlight and earned him critical acclaim. The Black press praised him as “the most talented violinist of the race.”

joseph-douglass 2.jpg

Joseph Douglass (Library of Congress)​

Joseph is also credited as the first Black violinist to make transcontinental tours. He toured extensively for three decades and is touted for performing in every Black educational institution in America. He was also the first violinist - of any race - to make recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Sadly his recordings with them were never released.

In addition to his great musical talent, Joseph was also a music educator and conductor. He had tenured positions at Howard University and the Colored Music Settlement School in New York. He had many students including a young Clarence Cameron White, but that’s another story. Mr. White is deserving of his own biography.

Joseph-douglass 3.jpg

Joseph Douglass (nps.gov)​

Joseph was born on July 3, 1871 and died December 7, 1935. He and his wife Fannie, an accomplished pianist, had two children: Blanche and Frederick III.


Sources
Wikipedia
https://www.classicalmpr.org/story/2018/02/01/black-history-spotlight-joseph-douglass
"Frederick Douglass Family Foundation"


 
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Someone could make a 'dilly' of a time following the newspaper promos prior to and after each of his performances.
What is "Dilly"? An excellent example of a particular type of person or thing....as in 'Piccadilly Circus'.
Lubliner.
 

Pat Young

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Frederick took up the violin during a tour in England before the war.

Douglass used the violin as a way to cope with bad mental states. He wrote that “They say music is good for insane people and I believe everybody are more or less insane.”
 

Pat Young

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#9
When Douglass visited Italy after the war he saw Paganini’s violin in a museum. He recorded his feelings about seeing it for two pages in a letter. One has to imagine that Douglass, who by then was a decent amateur violinist, must have been very proud to have a family member devoting himself to the instrument.
 



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