Rudolph Dunbar

(1899—1988) clarinettist and conductor

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(1899–1988). Classical musician and war correspondent born in British Guiana (now Guyana). Dunbar began his musical career with the British Guianan militia band. He moved to New York at the age of 20, where he studied music at Columbia University. In 1925 he moved to Paris, where he studied music, journalism, and philosophy. By 1931 he had settled in London and founded the Rudolph Dunbar School of Clarinet Playing. The same year Melody Maker invited him to contribute a series of articles on the clarinet. These were successful enough for him to publish in 1939 A Treatise on the Clarinet (Boehm System). Dunbar was a successful conductor, especially in the 1940s, when he became the first black man to conduct an orchestra in many of the prestigious cities of Europe, including, in 1942, the London Philharmonic at the Albert Hall, to an audience of 7,000 people; the Berlin Philharmonic (1945); and in 1948 at the Hollywood Bowl.


From The Oxford Companion to Black British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.

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