Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Walter Cuttino


Adolphus Hailstork, one of the best-known African American composers of the latter half of the twentieth century, is an innovator of American art song literature. Hailstork issignificantly recognized as a composer of instrumental genres, and his songs represent an important contribution to this genre, his overall output, and are currently not well known. Songs of Love and Justice (1992) is a song cycle for voice and piano set to the writings of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. The texts are not poetic, and relate to a period of unrest in the United States of America referred to as the Civil Rights era. The texts for each song depicts an array of thoughts collectively, and each ultimately express the resolve to choose the option of peace and love in the design and management of human relations.

Three Simple Songs (1993) is a song cycle for voice and piano set to poems by Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, and Phillips Brooks. Each of the three songs in this cycle presents a particular interpretive opportunity for the singer: an introspective and declamatory statement of a philosophy of one’s life purpose, a personal observation and appreciation of surrounding nature scenes, and an utopian desire for universal goodness based upon the religious concept of an omnipotent being and holiday known as Christmas. Each song features aspects of nature, either directly or as an analogy, a textual choice that can be observed in practice internationally, and long associated with the art song genre from its beginning stages of development. This cycle is considered to be a compact statement of idealism by the composer.

The purpose of this research is to provide a contribution to the performer’s guide to the song cycles Songs of Love and Justice and Three Simple Songs, and to increase the perfomance of these songs. The existing research is scant in its known presence, and approaches both cycles from a recorded performance perspective only. In this guide, text, dynamics, the color of the voice, rhythm, and tempo are addressed. Bringing the direct perspective of the composer and interpretive approaches by the performer into a single document will be an important benefit to the singer. This document will combine the present research with practice and decision making for performance choices, both of which must be considered and addressed in the preparation process for performing any song cycle. Like the availability of research on these cycles, available materials are also limited to one existing recording. Here, the impact of songs written by African American composers which reflect upon significant aspects of contemporary American culture, and the need for these works to be included in the canon of performance repertory will be addressed.

Songs of Love and Justice


Three Simple Songs

Not in Vain
The Daffodils
Christmas Everywhere


© 2016, Angela Renee Blalock

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