Margaret Bonds

The first black guest to play with the Chicago Symphony, Margaret Bonds was an accomplished pianist as well as composer and teacher.

Photo: Margaret Bonds, photograph by Carl van Vechten, 1956, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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    Born in Chicago, Margaret Bonds grew up in a musical household, studying music first with her mother, Estelle C. Bonds, who was an organist. Musical life in the city of Chicago was also very rich, and Bonds had the chance to study piano and composition with Florence Price while she was in high school. Bonds earned her BM and MM from Northwestern University and earned her first prize for composition in 1932 (the Wanamaker Prize for her song “Sea Ghost”). In 1933, Bonds performed Price’s piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Also, before leaving Chicago, Bonds opened the Allied Arts Academy.

    In 1939, Bonds moved to New York, marrying Lawrence Richardson and attending Juilliard Graduate School the following year. In New York, Bonds (who kept her mother’s maiden name as her own for life) worked to advance black musicians and composers and organized a chamber society dedicated to supporting the work of black composers and musicians.

    Bonds’ output consists mainly of vocal music, though she also wrote several large-scale musical theatre works, including Shakespeare in Harlem (1959). Leontyne Price commissioned and recorded several spirituals arranged by Bonds.

    –Christie Finn

    Related Information




    Songs from Chicago

    (Ernst Bacon, Margaret Bonds, John Alden Carpenter, Louis Campbell-Tipton and Florence Price)


    View recording

    I, Too

    (H. Leslie Adams, Margaret Bonds, Undine Smith Moore, Florence Price and Hall Johnson)


    De Toda la Eternidad

    (Margaret Bonds, Libby Larsen, Louise Talma and Gabriela Lena Frank)


    Ride On, King Jesus

    (Margaret Bonds, William Grant Still, Francis B. Johnson and R. Nathaniel Dett)


    Dreamer - A Portrait of Langston Hughes

    (Margaret Bonds, William Grant Still, Kurt Weill, Henry Burleigh, Robert Owens, John Musto, Ricky Ian Gordon, Howard Swanson, Jean Berger, Erik Santos and Florence Price)


    Ah! Love, But A Day

    (Amy Marcy Beach, Margaret Bonds, Libby Larsen, Margaret Ruthven Lang, Undine Smith Moore, Florence Price, Gladys Rich and Gwyneth Van Anden Walker)



    Sheet Music

    Anthology of Art Songs by Black American Composers, Compiled by Willis C. Patterson

    Composer(s): H. Leslie Adams, David Baker, Margaret Bonds, Charles Brown, Cecil Cohen, Noel de Costa, Mark Fax, Adolphus C. Hailstork, Eugene Hancock, Thomas Kerr, Jr., Charles Lloyd, Jr., Wendell Logan, Maurice McCall, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Undine Smith Moore, Robert Owens, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Florence Price, Hale Smith, William Grant Still, Howard Swanson, George Walker, Olly Wilson, John Work, Jr.

    Song(s): For You There is No Song (Leslie Adams)
    Early in the Mornin' (David Baker)
    A Good Assassination Should Be Quiet (David Baker)
    Status Symbol (David Baker)
    Three Dream Portraits: Minstrel Man; Dream Variations; I, Too (Margaret Bonds)
    The Barrier (Charles Brown)
    Song Without Words (Charles Brown)
    Death of an Old Seaman (Cecil Cohen)
    Two Songs for Julie Ju (Noel da Costa)
    Cassandra's Lullaby (Mark Fax)
    Love (Mark Fax)
    A Charm at Parting (Adolphus C. Hailstork)
    I Loved You (Adolphus C. Hailstork)
    Absalom (Eugene Hancock)
    Nunc Dimittis (Eugene Hancock)
    Riding to Town (Thomas Kerr, Jr.)
    Compensation (Charles Lloyd, Jr.)
    If There Be Sorrow (Wendell Logan)
    Marrow of My Bone (Wendell Logan)
    Chanson Triste (Maurice McCall)
    Sweet Sorrow (Maurice McCall)
    Weary Blues (Dorothy Rudd Moore)
    Love Let the Wind Cry...How I Adore Thee (Undine Moore)
    Faithful One (Robert Owens)
    Genius Child (Robert Owens)
    A Child's Grace (Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson)
    Melancholy (Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson)
    Night (Florence Price)
    Song to the Dark Virgin (Florence Price)
    Velvet Shoes (Hale Smith)
    Grief (William Grant Still)
    A Death Song (Howard Swanson)
    I Will Lie Down in Autumn (Howard Swanson)
    The Negro Speaks of Rivers (Howard Swanson)
    Lament (George Walker)
    A Red, Red Rose (George Walker)
    Wry Fragments (Olly Wilson)
    Dancing in the Sun (John Work, Jr.)
    Soliloquy (John Work, Jr.)

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    Art Songs and Spirituals by African-American Women Composers (Vivian Taylor, ed.)

    Composer(s): Margaret Bonds, Betty Jackson King, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Undine Smith Moore, Julia Perry, Zenobia Powell Perry, Florence Price

    Song(s): Calvary (Spiritual) (1954) - Betty Jackson King
    Come Down Angels (Spiritual) (1978) - Undine Smith Moore
    Dry Bones (Spiritual) (1946) - Margaret Bonds
    Free At Last (Spiritual) (1951) - Julia Perry
    He's Got the Whole World In His Hand (Spiritual) (1963) - Margaret Bonds
    I Am in Doubt (1975) - Undine Smith Moore
    I'm a Poor Li'l Orphan in This Worl' (Spiritual) (1952) - Julia Perry
    In the Springtime (1976) - Betty Jackson King
    Is There Anybody Here That Loves My Jesus (Spiritual) (1981) - Undine Smith Moore
    It's Me, O Lord (Spiritual) (1988) - Betty Jackson King
    Lord, I Just Can't Keep from Cryin' (Spiritual) (1946) - Margaret Bonds
    Love Let the Wind Cry… How I Adore Thee (1977) - Undine Smith Moore
    My Dream (1935) - Florence B. Price
    My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord (Spiritual) (1937) - Florence B. Price
    Night (1946) - Florence B. Price
    Song to the Dark Virgin (1926) - Florence B. Price
    The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1942) - Margaret Bonds
    Three Dream Portraits (1959) - Margaret Bonds
    Watch and Pray (Spiritual) (1972) - Undine Smith Moore

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    He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

    Composer(s): Margaret Bonds

    Rent via Presser

    Rediscovering Margaret Bonds: Art Songs, Spirituals, Musical Theater and Popular Songs

    Composer(s): Margaret Bonds

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