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Helen Hagan

Biography: 

(1893-1963)

The African-American piano virtuoso emerged as a concert stage sensation during the second decade of the 20th century. A 1912 graduate in piano performance from Yale University, Hagan won the Samuel Simon Sanford fellowship for study in Paris, enrolled in the Schola Cantorum, and finished her art under the tutelage of Blanche Selva and Vincent d'Indy.  After receiving her diploma in 1914, she returned to the United States for a life of concertizing. She toured constantly into the 1920s when she decided that becoming a music educator would share her talents in a more profound manner than simply playing publically. She spent the remainder of her life as a teacher and administrator. Early in her career she composed piano compositions including a piano concerto. The redisovery of this music would be an important addition to the corpus of historic African-American art music. David S. Shields/ALS