Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Committee Member

Alfonse Anderson

Second Committee Member

Ken Hanlon

Third Committee Member

Tod Fitzpatrick

Fourth Committee Member

Michelle Latour

Fifth Committee Member

Joe Bynum

Number of Pages



Dorothy Rudd Moore, born in 1940, grew up during a period in American history where many of the principles upon which this country was founded were denied to African - Americans. It was a time when black people in this country, amidst a struggle, were fighting for the basic human rights afforded to whites. In addition to protests, marches, and speeches, black artists used the power of artistic expression to communicate anger at the racial climate in America. Writers, dancers, actors, and musicians all used their various genres as platforms to speak out against inequality. Dorothy Rudd Moore and Langston Hughes were among those artists.

Dorothy Rudd Moore is a part of an elite group of black women composers who have overcome both race and gender to make substantial contributions to classical music. She has composed in essentially every genre including instrumental ensemble, choral works, and opera. Although there is limited academic exploration into her works, perhaps due to her unrelenting pursuit of privacy, her musical contributions should not be overlooked.

Being a poet in her own right, she has high literary taste and is attracted to poetry that is powerful and commanding in its approaches to speaking about the experiences of black people in America. She is very careful in her selection of poetry and quite meticulous in its treatment through her music. She reads the poem, studies it, and memorizes it until what she brings forth musically seems innate. A composer this cautious about text would naturally gravitate to one of the most famous poets of our time, Langston Hughes (1902 - 1967).

Langston Hughes earned a reputation as a lyrical poet whose words were rhythmic and often referred to as musical. He too used the pen as his platform to speak out against racism and the plight of black people in this country. His output included short stories, prose, children's books, an opera, and he was also the librettist for Kurt Weill's Street Scene.

This document will examine the literary language of Langston Hughes and the musical translation of Dorothy Rudd Moore, specifically in her songs "Weary Blues", "Dream Variation", and "Song For a Dark Girl." Further, it will briefly discuss the political climate that surrounded both composer and poet and its heavy influence on the choice of topics and Moore's attraction to them.

The research will primarily come from interviews and musical coachings with the composer, dissertations, journal articles, and other relevant literature.


African American women composers; Black Art Song; Dream Variations; Hughes; Langston; 1902-1967; Moore; Dorothy Rudd; 1940-; Music by African American women composers; Poetry; Song for a Dark Girl; Songs; Weary Blues


African American Studies | Music

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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