African American composer, choral conductor, musicologist and teacher William Levi Dawson was born in Anniston, Alabama on 26 September 1899. He studied at the Tuskagee Institute, the Horner Institute of Fine Arts, the Chicago Musical College and the American Conservatory of Music.
Early in his career, he played trombone and taught. Working at the Tuskagee Institute from 1931 until 1956, he developed the choir into a group known internationally.
Dawson began to compose music when he was very young, and went on to write chamber, choral and orchestral music. He is best known for his variations on spirituals and his Negro Folk Symphony.
William Dawson died in Montgomery, Alabama on 2 May 1990, aged ninety.
Spotlight. A Complete Triumph - Gerald Fenech is exhilarated by the Philadelphia Orchestra's recording of symphonies by Florence Price and William Dawson. '... a vibrant energy that makes the music sound as fresh and exciting as when it was first heard.'
CD Spotlight. Impressive Dexterity - Gerald Fenech listens to orchestral music by American composers William Dawson and Ulysses Kay. 'Arthur Fagen draws some immaculate playing from his Viennese Orchestra ...'