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The Leon Robbin (L '22) Gallery is named after its benefactor, originally from Washington and later of Key Biscayne, Florida, who in 1997 generously established a million dollar endowment fund for the Library to support, expand, and provide wide access to the Leon Robbin Collection of Musical Manuscripts and Letters of Composers.

Georgetown University Special Collections - Exhibitions

Two Black Composers: R. Nathaniel Dett
and J. Rosamond Johnson

Leon Robbin (L '22) Gallery

February · April 2005

Items in the Exhibition

To see images, click the thumbnails. The larger image will open in a new window; close the window to return to Two Black Composers: R. Nathaniel Dett and J. Rosamond Johnson.

Dett, R. Nathaniel (1882-1943). Promotional handbill (ca. 1935).
The James Murphy Collection.


Dett, R. Nathaniel (1882-1943)
Music in the Mine: An unaccompanied Folk-song Scena for Tenor Solo and Mixed Chorus. New York: G. Schirmer [© 1916]

Inscribed on December 26, 1916, by the composer "To my dear friend Miss Natalie Curtis one of the very first to see in this simple tune the possibilities of [illegible] treatment and development. "


Dett, R. Nathaniel (1882-1943)
The Chariot Jubilee: Motet For Tenor Solo and Chorus of Mixed Voices accompaniment of Organ (piano) or Orchestra. Cincinnati: John Church [© 1919]

Inscribed on August 12, 1919, by the composer "To my friends Mr. and Mrs. Paul Burlin Yea"the birds chirping did herald the dawn." Dare I say the sun begins to rise? But though the day be not fair, I know it will be welcomed by you who have worked so hard that such things might be."


Dett, R. Nathaniel (1992-1943)
Listen to the Lambs: A Religious Characteristic in the form of an Anthem For Four-part Chorus of Mixed Voices. New York: G. Schirmer [© 1914]

Inscribed on May 24, 1915, by the composer "To Miss Natalie Curtis Compliments and best wishes of . . . ."

Another copy of the same; inscribed by the composer on December 26 of the following year "To my dear friend and inspirer Miss Natalie Curtis in artistic appreciation of her noble endeavors for the music of the unappreciated races. Sincerely and gratefully . . . ."


Dett, R. Nathaniel (1882-1943)
I’m So Glad Trouble Don’t Last Alway: Negro Spiritual For Three Part Chorus of Women’s Voices with Accompaniment. Cincinnati: John Church [© 1919]

Inscribed on August 12, 1919, by the composer "To Mr. and Mrs. Paul Burlin True friends of the native arts of America."


Dett, R. Nathaniel (1882-1943)
Done Paid My Vow To The Lord: Negro Spiritual For Baritone or Contralto Solo and Chorus of Women’s Voices with Accompaniment. (A song much beloved by Booker T. Washington) Cincinnati: John Church [© 1919]

Inscribed on August 12, 1919, by the composer "To Mr. and Mrs. Paul Burlin True friends of the native arts of America."


Johnson, J. Rosamond (1873-1954)
Nobody Knows the Trouble I See: American Negro Melody Arranged by J. Rosamond Johnson. Boston: Oliver Ditson [© 1917]

Inscribed in July 1917 by the composer "To Mrs. Natalie Curtis - Burlin Compliments of . . . ."


Burlin, Natalie Curtis (1875-1921)
Natalie Curtis aborted a possible career as a concert pianist to study Native American music and languages, her major publication being The Indians’ Book (1907). After 1910 she took an active interest in developing music and music education for African Americans. In 1917 she married artist Paul Burlin. She was killed by an automobile in Paris while there to give a lecture in 1921. All the works shown were presented to her by the composers.

George M. Barringer
Associate University Librarian for Special Collections
February 2005

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