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Program for Schools, Music Teachers and General Audiences

Out of Africa - Into Europe

Effect of Africa’s music on Europe - Presented by Frank French ( 50 minutes)

Although we tend to think of Jazz as the melting-pot of musical culture in America, historical evidence indicates that the music of Africa was having an influence in Europe much earlier in our history. Folk music having an influence on Art music seems to be evident in the music of composers like Beethoven and Schubert, and other ethnic styles show up in the music of Chopin These are generally regarded as being European in origin. Yet even traces of Turkish music show up in Mozart in the late 18th century.

As early as the time of the Renaissance it can be shown that the influence of Africa was finding its way into Europe. We can even see this in Shakespeare’s Othello. But there are also indications in music as early as the 16th century. Some dance music that later shows up in the suites of Bach is alleged to have origins in street music sung and danced by Blacks in Spain and Italy much earlier.

In the 19th century the influence of Africa shows up again, first in literature and later in music, and by the beginning of the 20th century composers such as Debussy and Albeniz are employing Africanisms in their piano music.

Frank French ( see bio) presents this program for schools, music teachers and general audiences. Musical examples and literary sources will be cited The program is 50 minutes in length. For further information please contact him at 415-731-8611 or




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