Maud Cuney Hare

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Maud Cuney Hare
File:Maud Cuney Hare facing page 132 Norris Wright Cuney 1913.jpg
Born (1874-02-16)February 16, 1874
Galveston, Texas, US
Died February 13 or 14, 1936, age 61
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Resting place Lake View Cemetery, Galveston, Texas, US
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Residence Boston, Massachusetts, US
Other names Maud Cuney
Alma mater New England Conservatory of Music
Known for Documenting African-American culture
Spouse(s) William P. Hare
Parent(s) Norris Wright Cuney, Adelina Dowdie Cuney

Maud Cuney Hare (née Cuney, February 16, 1874–February 13[1][2]:xvi or 14,[2]:xxviii[3] 1936) was an American pianist, musicologist, writer, and African-American activist in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. She was born in Galveston, the daughter of famed civil rights leader Norris Wright Cuney, who led the Texas Republican Party during and after the Reconstruction Era. In 1913 she published a biography of her father.[4]

Essentially part of the second generation after emancipation, Cuney Hare studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and became an accomplished pianist. She lived in Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood of Boston, most of her adult life. A musicologist, she collected music from across the South and Caribbean in her study of folklore, and was the first to study Creole music. She is most remembered for her final work, Negro Musicians and Their Music (1936), which documents the development of African-American music. [2]:xv

Early life and education

Maud was born in Galveston, Texas to Adelina Dowdy (or Dowdie) and Norris Wright Cuney on February 16, 1874. Both parents were of mixed race. Her mother, one of the "handsome Dowdy girls" came from Woodville, Mississippi. Her father's heritage was Indian, African, and Swiss-American. They were part of a large and well-off extended family:[2]:xix Norris Cuney was one of eight acknowledged and manumitted children of Gen. Philip Minor Cuny by his (later manumitted) slave housekeeper, Adeline Stuart. Norris also had eight half-siblings, three born to the General's second wife, Eliza Ware Cuny, and five to his third wife, Adaline Spurlock Cuny.[5]

Norris Wright Cuney, Maud's father, was an established leader in the Texas Republican Party. He served in the Customs Office and later became Collector of Customs for the port.[6][7] He established a business of stevedore workers, employing about 500 men on the docks.[8]:xii

Norris Wright Cuney sang and played the violin;[4]:4 Adelina Dowdy Cuney was a soprano singer and played the piano.[6] Maud and her brother Lloyd grew up in a house filled with music and literature.[2]:xix-xx

After completing school at Galveston's Central High School in 1890, Maud Cuney went to Boston to study at the New England Conservatory of Music. There she studied piano with Edwin Klahre[9] and music theory with Martin Roeder.[2]:xx She also studied at Harvard's Lowell Institute of Literature.[8]:xii

When white students learned that Maud Cuney and another African American, Florida L. Des Verney, were living in a campus dormitory, some of them tried to have the young women excluded. Fearing financial pressure from white southern families, the Conservatory requested that the women find other lodgings, implying that their safety could not be guaranteed. Maud Cuney told the school that she refused to move. Her father also refused to move her, criticizing the school for dishonouring "the noble men and women" of Massachusetts who had fought against prejudice. Members of the Boston black community spoke out against the Conservatory, as did black students, including Cambridge student W.E.B. Du Bois. The Colored National League took up the issue, and the Conservatory eventually reversed its position. Though Des Verney moved away, Maud Cuney stayed.[8]:100-101 She later wrote "I refused to leave the dormitory, and because of this, was subjected to many petty indignities. I insisted upon proper treatment."[4]

Boston had a vibrant black community. While studying in Boston, Cuney became part of the Charles Street Circle (or West End Set), meeting at the home of Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin.[8]:98 She became a close friend of W. E. B. Du Bois, who was based in Massachusetts for a time, and they were briefly engaged.[10] Du Bois described Maud vividly as "a tall, imperious brunette, with gold-bronze skin, brilliant eyes and coils of black hair."[8]:98

After graduating from the conservatory, Cuney returned to Texas, studying privately with pianist Emil Ludwig[2]:xx in Austin, and teaching at the Texas Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute for Colored Youths in 1897 and 1898. She again chose to oppose racial prejudice when management of the Austin Opera House demanded that Negroes in the audience coming to her performance must be segregated and seated in the balconies. She and Emil Ludwig cancelled the planned concert and performed instead at the Texas Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute, where no distinction of color was applied.[8]:103-104


Maud's mother, Adelina Dowdy Cuney, died on October 1, 1895 of tuberculosis.[11] Maud's father died on March 3, 1898 of the same disease.[5][8]:95 Later that year, Maud married J. Frank McKinley, a doctor 20 years her senior, who like Maud was of mixed race.[8]:104

The McKinleys moved to Chicago, where Dr. McKinley insisted upon "passing" as a Spanish-American couple. When their daughter Vera was born in 1900, her birth certificate identified her as Spanish-American. Maud, who had been brought up to assert her black heritage, found the deception painful. For a time, she hid her identity as her husband demanded, compensating by working in the settlement movement at the African Methodist Episcopal Institutional Church of Chicago. Eventually she left her husband, taking her baby daughter and returning to Texas where she obtained a teaching job at Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical College, an historically black institution. McKinley filed for divorce in 1902. Maud returned to Chicago for a highly visible custody battle that gave their daughter to her husband.[8]:105-106 [10]

After the divorce, Maud returned to Boston. She married William P. Hare on August 10, 1904,[12] and from then on used the joint last name "Cuney Hare".[10] The couple settled at 43 Sheridan Street, Jamaica Plain.[13] Their house is marked by a Bostonian Society plaque, as part of the Boston Women's Heritage Trail.[14] In 1906, Maud gained access to her daughter during the summer months, but sadly, Vera died in 1908.[8]:105-106

Cuney Hare was politically active, and was among the first women to join the Niagara Movement in 1907, an organization founded against segregation.[12] It was a predecessor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).[10] Throughout her career as a teacher, performer, and musicologist she saw her work as contributing to the "racial uplift" of the people with whom she chose to identify.[8]:137


As a teacher of music, Cuney had taught at the Texas Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute for Colored Youths in 1897 and 1898; at the settlement house program of the Institutional Church of Chicago during 1900 and 1901; and at Prairie View in Texas in 1903 and 1904.[7]

As a performing pianist and lecturer, Cuney Hare collaborated with William Howard Richardson, a Canadian baritone singer, beginning around 1913. They shared an interest in music of the African diaspora and toured together for 20 years.[15][10] In 1919, they were the first musicians of color to perform in the concert-lecture series at the Boston Public Library.[13]

Cuney Hare founded the Allied Arts Center in Boston, to encourage education and performance in the arts. In addition to providing funding and serving as a manager, she performed and lectured there.[10] The Center had a little theatre group, and offered classes and performances in art, music, and drama. Although open to all, its focus was the development and support of young black performers, composers, and playwrights.[15] Cuney Hare herself wrote and directed the play Antar of Araby (1929) about the pre-Islamic poet, Antar Bin Shaddad. The overture was composed by Clarence Cameron White and incidental music by Montague Ring.[16][15]

She did extensive research as a musicologist. She traveled to Mexico, Cuba, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico to collect and study folklore and musical traditions. She was "the first music scholar to direct public attention to Creole music," publishing a collection of Six Creole folk-songs with commentary in 1921.[7] Her personal collection of music and artifacts was extensive, and was used as the basis of exhibits.[15]

Cuney Hare wrote numerous articles about black music and arts. Throughout her life, Cuney Hare was a close friend and confidant of noted author and activist W. E. B. Du Bois. She edited a column on music and the arts for The Crisis, the magazine that Du Bois edited for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).[17] She also contributed articles on these topics to the Christian Science Monitor, Musical Quarterly, Musical Observer, and Musical America.[8]:95

Her writing about music culminated in her best-known work, Negro Musicians and Their Music (1936). In it, Cuney Hare documented the development of African-American music, contextualizing it both nationally and internationally. She writes compelling of the history of African American music, from its beginnings in Africa, through the diaspora to the United States and elsewhere, to the development of American traditions of Negro spirituals, and finally the newer forms of blues and jazz. She distrusted the unstructured nature of Jazz music, preferring the classical traditions in which she had been trained. The book contains extensive details on the lives and music of Negro musicians both in America and abroad, in voluminous footnotes as well as the main text. The second book to address Negro music, and the first by a music scholar, it is described by Josephone Harreld Love as "a priceless legacy of accomplished documentation ... valuable for meticulous, sensitive scholarship, discernment, and devotion."[2]:xv Sadly, Cuney Hare never saw the published book. Suffering from cancer, which prevented her from playing the piano, but not from proof-reading her manuscript, she died before it appeared in print.[2]

Maud Cuney Hare died on either February 13 or 14, 1936, in Boston, Massachusetts. A memorial service was held in Boston on February 17, 1936.[3] Maud Cuney Hare is buried in an unmarked grave next to her father and mother in Lake View Cemetery, Galveston, Texas.[18]


Among Cuney Hare's many artistic and literary works are the following:

  • Norris Wright Cuney: A Tribune of the Black People (1913), a biography of her father.[4]
  • The Message of the Trees: An Anthology of Leaves and Branches (1918), a collection of nature poems, which Cuney Hare edited.[8]:95
  • Six Creole folk-songs : with original Creole and translated English text (1921)
  • "Portuguese Folk-Songs, from Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts", The Musical Quarterly [0027-4631], 1928, vol:14 iss:1, pp. 35–53
  • Antar of Araby (1929), a play revolving around the life of the Arab/Abyssinian poet whose "valor" outshines his status as a slave[8]:95[10]
  • Negro Musicians and Their Music (1936),[19] a history of African-American music traditions from Africa to the American jazz age

See also

External links


  1. White, Clarence Cameron (1936). "Instroduction". Negro Musicians and Their Music. Washington, D.C.: The Associated Publishers, Inc.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Love, Josephine Harreld, ed. (1996). "Introduction". Negro Musicians and Their Music. New York: G. K. Hall & Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hales, Douglas (2000). The Cuneys: a Southern Family in White and Black. Texas Tech University (Dissertation).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Hare, Maud Cuney (1913). Norris Wright Cuney: A Tribune of the Black People. Crisis Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7838-1397-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Norris Wright Cuney". Find a Grave. Retrieved 24 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Maud Cuney Hare papers, 1843-1936, Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 McArthur, Judith N. "Cuney-Hare, Maud". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 Hales, Douglas (2003). A Southern Family in White & Black: the Cuneys of Texas. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 1-58544-200-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Bacon, Edwin M.; Herndon, Richard (1896). Men of progress; one thousand biographical sketches and portraits of leaders in business and professional life in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Boston: New England Magazine. p. 783.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Hussen, Aida Ahmed (2009). "Cuney-Hare, Maud". In Gates, Jr., Henry Louis; Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks. Harlem Renaissance lives from the African American national biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 138–140. ISBN 978-0195387957. Retrieved 24 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Adelina Dowdie Cuney". Find a Grave. Retrieved 24 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 Bracks, Lean'tin L.; Smith, Jessie Carney (2014). Black women of the harlem renaissance era. [S.l.]: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 56–58. ISBN 978-0810885424. Retrieved 24 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 "African-American Women in Jamaica Plain History". Jamaica Plain Historical Society. Retrieved 24 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Historic Markers: Jamaica Plain". The Bostonian Society. Retrieved 24 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Wintz, Cary; Finkelman, Paul (2004). Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Routledge. pp. 281–282. ISBN 9781579584573. Retrieved 24 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Peterson, Jr., Bernard L. (1990). Early Black American playwrights and dramatic writers : a biographical directory and catalog of plays, films, and broadcasting scripts (1st ed.). New York: Greenwood Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0313266218.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Beaulieu, Elizabeth Ann (2006). Writing African American women : an encyclopedia of literature by and about women of color (1st ed.). Westport: Greenwood press. ISBN 978-0313331961.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Maud Cuney-Hare". The Texas Underground. Retrieved 15 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Hare, Maud Cuney (1936). Negro Musicians and Their Music. Washington, D.C.: The Associated Publishers, Inc.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>