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Dunbar, Rudolph, 1899-1988



  • Existence: 1899 - 1988-06-10


The musician Rudolph Dunbar was born in Nabacalis, British Guiana (now known as Guyana). While Dunbar gave various dates throughout his career, records of the Danish Immigration Office file V. 76420 of March 1929, and various ship passenger lists show that his actual birthdate is April 5, 1899. Dunbar held many positions throughout his life including clarinetist, music critic, orchestra conductor, music teacher and journalist.

Dunbar began his musical career as a clarinetist in 1912 while in the British Guiana Militia band. He later moved to the United States in 1919 to study music composition, piano, and clarinet playing at the Institute of Musical Art (Now the Julliard School). After graduation, Dunbar continued his musical education in France, Germany, and Austria. He studied music composition with Paul Vidal, clarinet playing with Louis Cahuzac as well as conducting with Phillip Gaubert and Felix Weingartner. In 1931, Dunbar created the Rudolph Dunbar School of Clarinet Playing in London, England. In 1942, he became the first musician of African descent to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the noted Royal Albert Hall in London, England. Other noted orchestras Dunbar conducted include the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Berliner Philharmoniker Orchestra. Dunbar was also the London correspondent for the Associated Negro Press and reported information of Great Britain during World War II. A journalist throughout his life, he also documented the independence of several African and Caribbean countries from British colonial rule. Dunbar continued his career as a musician and journalist until his death in London, England on June 10, 1988.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Rudolph Dunbar Papers

Call Number: JWJ MSS 174
Abstract: The Rudolph Dunbar Papers document the professional activities of clarinetist, conductor, music critic, teacher and journalist Rudolph Dunbar. Series in this collection include Correspondence, Professional Papers, Photographs and Other Papers. Among those represented in the correspondence series include Coretta Scott King, Eslanda Robeson, and British parliament member Robert Allan. Professional papers include press releases, German propaganda of African Americans during World War II, and...
Dates: 1938–1986