On this day 111 years ago, influential musician Amanda Aldridge performed a piano recital at London’s Queens Small Hall, the original home of the BBC Symphony and London Philharmonic Orchestras. The composer, teacher and opera singer, who worked under the pseudonym Montague Ring, is being honored Friday with a Google Doodle on the search giant’s homepage.
The daughter of a Black American Shakespearean actor and Swedish opera singer, Eldridge displayed an impressive musical talent at a young age. She went on to study at London’s Royal Conservatory of Music and learn from Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind.
Aldridge taught civil rights activist and artist Paul Robeson, as well as the highly lauded opera singer Marian Anderson. African music and Black American poetry influenced her own sound. Her most popular piece of work is “Three African Dances,” a piano composition inspired by West African drumming.
Aldridge wrote “Three African Dances” with the intention of having it played by amateur pianists and middle class families, according to University of Colorado Boulder’s Hidden Voices series. During the time the piece was made, it was common to hear romantic parlor music played in middle class households.