Will Marion Cook
(1869–1944) was a composer and violinist from the United States. Cook was a student of Antonín Dvo ák and had performed for King George V among others. At an early age, Cook's musical talent was apparent. At age fifteen, he was sent to the Oberlin Conservatory to study violin.
With help from members of the African American community, his benefit
recitals were sponsored to help him afford to study abroad. From 1887 to 1889, he studies at the Berlin Hochschule fur Musik working with Josef Joachim's former student, violinist Heinrich Jacobson;
Jacobson served as Chairman of the Orchestral Instruments Department.
Although it is often stated that Cook studied abroad for nine years,
there is no evidence of this. In the years of 1894 and 1895, Cook studied with Dvorak and John White at the National Conservatory of Music. Cook had performed professionally as a student and made his debut in 1889 in Washington, DC. His performance career as a soloist was short lived, however; in 1890, he became director of a chamber orchestra touring the east coast. He prepared Scenes from the Opera of Uncle Tom's Cabin for performance. The performance, which was to take place at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, was canceled. Clorindy; or, The Origin of the Cakewalka musical sketch comedy in collaboration with Paul Laurence Dunbar
was the next piece he composed, 1898. After this period, he was
composer-in-chief and musical director for the George Walker-Bert
Williams Company. As he continued to write, he produced many successful
musicals. Best known for his songs, Cook used folk elements in an
original and distinct manner. Many of these songs first appeared in his
musicals; these were written for choral groups or solo Some were
published in A Collection of Negro Songs (1912).
Later in his career, Cook was an active choral and orchestral
conductor. He produced several concerts and organized many choral
societies in both New York and in Washington, D.C. The New York
Syncopated Orchestrahe had createdtoured the United States in 1918 and then went to England in 1919 for a command performance for King George V. Among his company were assistant director Will Tyers, jazz clarinetist Sidney Bechet, Abbie Mitchell, and Tom Fletcher. Cook married singer Abbie Mitchell in 1898.
Source: Wikepedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Marion_Cook