V0010. A 1940s Radio Hour, Vol.III, incl. Berger, Steber & Stevens (Rosenkavalier - Final Trio & Duet, 1949), Steber, Bampton, Kullman, Stevens, Conley, Chabay, Gigli & Guichandut (Forza, 1947), Maynor (Chadwick song), Kipnis, Kent, Tassinari & Tagliavini. IRCC CD 809. Long out-of-print, Final Copy!
"IRCC provides brief biographical notes on the artists and informative plot summaries of the operas, as well as texts and translations. The transfers have been well done, there is a minimum of intrusive surface noise, and they have made efforts to determine that proper pitch has been attained. Recommended to collectors and those who have an interest in the rare and obscure works of this period."
- Bob Rose, FANFARE, July/Aug., 1995
Dorothy Maynor, a highly regarded soprano recitalist who founded the Harlem School of the Arts, whose career helped open the way for black artists like Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price, possessed a voice that the New Grove Dictionary of American Music describes as a soaring, belllike soprano capable of exquisite musical effects, supported by a sincere and ardent temperament. She took New York by storm in a sold-out recital at Town Hall in 1939 and pursued a successful recital career.
Although she committed more than 100 operatic roles to memory, she never appeared on an opera stage; there were no such opportunities for a black artist in the late 1930s and the 1940s, when she was in her prime. (Miss Anderson, the first black singer to appear at the Metropolitan Opera, did not make her début there until 1955.)
After hearing her sing at the 1939 Berkshire Symphonic Festival at Tanglewood in western Massachusetts, the conductor Serge Koussevitzky reportedly jumped up and down, shouting: It is a miracle! It is a musical revelation! The world must hear her! Koussevitzky, who called Miss Maynor a native Flagstad, immediately used her in recordings with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
She made her formal début at Town Hall in Manhattan later that year, on19 November, in a widely anticipated event that was sold out more than a week in advance. Olin Downes, reviewing the concert for THE NEW YORK TIMES, hailed her as one of the most remarkable soprano voices of the rising generation, called her voice phenomenal for its range, character and varied expressive resources.
Miss Maynor began touring extensively in the United States, often appearing as a soloist with leading orchestras. She made her Carnegie Hall début in 1940 with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by John Barbirolli. In the late 40s she toured Latin America and Europe. She often performed at benefits to aid the war effort and black causes.
She sang at the Presidential Inaugural galas for Harry S. Truman in 1949 and Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. In 1952, by special permission of the Daughters of the American Revolution, she appeared as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra at Constitution Hall in the first commercial appearance there by a black artist since Miss Anderson had been barred from performing at the hall in 1939. (Miss Anderson subsequently gave benefit performances at the hall.)
In 1963, she retired to work with her husband, the Rev. Shelby Rooks, at St. James Presbyterian Church at West 141st Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, where he was pastor. That year she founded the Harlem School of the Arts. The school offered classes in music, ballet, modern dance, drama and art to poor children for minimal fees, sometimes as little as 50 cents a lesson, and lent or rented instruments to students who did not own one. She served as executive director of the school until 1979 and also taught there. In 1977 she raised more than $2 million to build a new facility for the school, which originally served 20 children and now has more than 1,000 students.
What I dream of is changing the image held by the children
.We've made them believe everything beautiful is outside the community. We would like them to make beauty in our community.
Her work with the school is recounted in DOROTHY MAYNOR AND THE HARLEM SCHOOL OF THE ARTS: THE DIVA AND THE DREAM (Edwin Mellen Press, 1993), by William F. Rogers Jr.
- William Grimes, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 Feb., 1996