Hale Smith

1925 - 2009


Hale Smith (1925-2009), born in Cleveland, Ohio, is a prominent performer, arranger, and composer within classical and jazz music. Starting at age 7, Smith played piano and eventually, he branched out to composing at age 16 in high school, attracting the attention of Duke Ellington. His skills as an arranger expanded after being drafted in the army in 1943, where he his music was used for touring shows in Florida and Georgia.  Following his tour, he pursued his education in composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Marcel Dick and Ward Lewis, and earned his bachelor’s in 1950 and master’s in 1952. In that year, Smith won a musical licensing organization’s, BMI, first student composer award. He moved to New York in 1958, worked as an editor and consultant at several music-publishing houses, and taught at Long Island University. He later taught at University of Connecticut before he retired in 1984. Hales Smith compositional style is a fusion of traditional chords and twelve-tone chord music. He is best known for his orchestral work Contours and his piano piece, Evocation.

(Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/28/arts/music/28smith.html?_r=2& and Biographies of Black Composers)