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Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?

By Thomas H. Kerr Jr., edited by Susanna Garcia and William Chapman Nyaho

Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?: Concert Scherzo for Two Pianos, Four Hands is a set of six variations and a coda based on the Negro spiritual. Composed in 1940 by pianist and composer Thomas Henderson Kerr Jr. for his performances on the Black College Circuit during the 1940s, it is an effective showpiece for advanced pianists.

Kerr described it this way: “The piece sets forth the theme transparently and saucily then plunges into querulous, propulsive and percussive ostinato (Allegro Barbaro), with a surprise ending. After a breathing pause (for both players and listeners) comes a slow expressive section (Andante Sognando)…There are two brittle, playful variations (Scherzando) and a ‘Tempo Grandioso’ which leads to a coda which sweeps the players off the stage.”

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About the Composer

Thomas Henderson Kerr Jr. (1915–88) was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He began playing and studying piano at an early age. He taught himself the organ and, as early as fourteen, played for church services, as well as in Baltimore’s nightclubs. As a young man, Kerr wanted to attend Peabody Institute, but, at that time, African Americans were not admitted. He instead attended Howard University for one year, then transferred to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he earned three degrees: a bachelor of music in piano, a bachelor of music in theory, and a master of music in theory. At Eastman he studied piano with Cécile Genhart (1898–1983). He graduated summa cum laude. In 1943, Kerr returned to Howard University as Professor of Piano and served as chair of the piano department until his retirement in 1976.

Kerr’s catalogue lists over 150 compositions for piano, organ, voice, chorus, and chamber ensembles, most of which have never been published. They are preserved in manuscripts at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Archives and Rare Books Division, in New York City.

This is the first published edition of this composition and the first in a series of three piano works by Thomas H. Kerr Jr. to be published by the Frances Clark Center.


Click the link below to view a PowerPoint presentation on the piano music of Thomas Henderson Kerr Jr.

*If you would like to view the presenter notes, download the PDF and open the file on an Adobe desktop app.


About the Editors

Susanna Garcia is Professor Emerita at the University of Louisiana School of Music where she held the Louisiana Board of Regents / Ruth Stodghill Girard Endowed Professorship. She has been the recipient of many honors, including the University of Louisiana Distinguished Professor, MTNA Foundation Fellow, Louisiana Music Teachers Association Outstanding Teacher, and the University of Louisiana Research Excellence Award. In 2024, she received the SPARK Lifetime Faculty Achievement Award from the ULL College of the Arts.

Garcia is the codeveloper of eNovativePiano: Multimedia Resources for Developing Musicianship Skills, a sequenced multimedia curriculum for piano instruction that includes instructional videos, video animations, original compositions, and pedagogical editions of standard piano works. In 2021, eNovativePiano was awarded the MTNA Frances Clark Award for Keyboard Pedagogy.

A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, she has performed both solo and chamber recitals throughout the United States and in Canada, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Ghana.

She performs regularly with pianist William Chapman Nyaho as the Nyaho/Garcia Piano Duo, bringing to light works outside the traditional canon as well as performing the standard repertoire. The Duo’s newest release Five by Four on MSR Classics includes contemporary music for piano duo, including four world premiere recordings.

An active clinician and scholar, Garcia has presented workshops, papers, and master classes for International Society for Music Education, College Music Society, Music Teachers National Association, National Association for Humanities Education, National Group Piano/Piano Pedagogy Forum, Online Learning Consortium, Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy, Louisiana Music Teachers Association, and many state and local piano teaching organizations. Her research has appeared in such publications as 19th Century Music, Interdisciplinary Humanities, Piano Pedagogy Forum, Philosophy of Music Education Review, and American Music Teacher.

She has served in leadership roles for Music Teachers National Association, National Group Piano / Piano Pedagogy Forum, Louisiana Music Teachers Association, and the Lafayette Area Music Teachers Association. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy.

Garcia received her undergraduate education at Texas A&M at Corpus Christi. She completed both her MM and DMA at the University of Texas at Austin.

William Chapman Nyaho, a Ghanaian American, is an active solo recitalist, duo pianist, and chamber musician giving recitals and concerts in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean and in cities across the United States, where he advocates music by composers of African descent. He actively serves as a regular guest clinician at colleges and universities around the United States and has been an adjudicator for several national and international piano competitions.

Chapman Nyaho’s professional experience includes being a North Carolina Visiting Artist and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he held the Heymann Endowed Professorship and was the recipient of the Distinguished Professor Award. He has served as Visiting Professor of Piano at Colby College, Maine, and Pomona College, California; Lecturer at Pacific Lutheran University; Artist-in-Residence at Willamette University, Oregon; and piano professor at Adamant Music School, Vermont; as well as the summer faculty of Interlochen Center for the Arts, Michigan. He currently runs his private piano studio in Seattle.

In addition to his teaching commitments, Chapman Nyaho serves on the board of trustees of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy and is Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Music Teachers National Association.

As an advocate for music of Africa and its diaspora, Chapman Nyaho’s publications include a five-volume anthology Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora, published by Oxford University Press. His recordings include Aaron Copland: Music for Two Pianos, Senku: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent, Asa: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent, and Kete: Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Chapman Nyaho earned his degrees from St. Peter’s College, Oxford University, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Texas at Austin. He also studied at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève, Switzerland.

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