Rudolph Dunbar – A Musician for the Ages – by Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

Rudolph Dunbar – A Musician for the Ages

by Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

Rudolph Dunbar

Rudolph Dunbar

One day someone will make a movie about Rudolph Dunbar.

The year was 1945 and Hitler and his troops were recently defeated after invading Europe. Berlin was the seat of Nazi culture but the Philharmonic Orchestra was led by a black conductor. He was a war correspondent for the United States but it was the baton that took him to the realm of the Gods. This conductor was a Guyanese who bestrode the musical world like a giant. Rudolph Dunbar mesmerized the 2000 Berliners in the audience. They applauded rapturously as he took them through the works of Weber’s Oberon and Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique. Rudolph Dunbar was given five standing ovations.

During the performance Dunbar did the unthinkable. He introduced music from the Afro-American symphony to the delight of the audience. On that evening Rudolph Dunbar created history. He had become Berlin’s first black conductor. 

The Chicago Tribune of September 3,1945 carried a historic headline that read, “Negro gets Ovation for Leading Berlin Symphony Concert: Rudolph Dunbar, a slender young Negro who learned his music in New York, led the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra today in a concert of classical music and American syncopation. He won an ovation of astonishing warmth.” They forgot to mention that Dunbar was a Guyanese.

[Read more – Rudolph Dunbar by Dr. Dhanpaul Narine]

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  • Deen  On 03/08/2015 at 2:32 pm

    Wow! That was an extraordinary achievement for anyone to be the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. But at that time in history and being black was extra-extraordinary……and being a Guyanese was an incredible and phenomenal achievements. Rudolph Dunbar was obviously an exceptionally talented man. Thanks to Dr. Dhanpaul Narine for sharing this historical information about this famous Guyanese.

    • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 03/08/2015 at 3:17 pm

      I share your sentiments, Deen, and thank Dr. Dhanpaul Narine for bringing to light the legacy of one of Guyana’s talented sons.

      In Guyana today, how many talented young people wither and die for lack of opportunities to develop and grow?

      • albert  On 03/08/2015 at 5:02 pm

        “In Guyana today, how many talented young people wither and die for lack of opportunities to develop and grow?”

        Many and their children develop their talent abroad and places like America/Canada/ England reap the benefit. If the combined opposition should win and form a new government they will need a multitude of trained staff to implement the Changes promised. They are plentiful abroad but can a reborn Guyana attract them.

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 03/08/2015 at 5:13 pm

    “They are plentiful abroad but can a reborn Guyana attract them.”
    Albert, given the current state of affairs in Guyana, I doubt it. But, within the country, I believe that there are many young people who will step forward and bloom given a favorable environment.

  • detow  On 03/08/2015 at 5:27 pm

    At the expense of offending anyone I must say that I agree with you Rosaliene, but steps must be taken by the government to offer external scholarships to the identified local talent with the proviso that they return to Guyana and work within their field of expertise for no less than five years. With improvement in the new environment they may be encouraged to remain in Guyana.

    Just my input…no further comments.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 03/08/2015 at 6:29 pm

    I just picked this blog with familiar names, such as Cyril Bryan; Vibert Cambridge; and very interesting insight into the man:

  • Kenrick Whitney  On 03/09/2015 at 7:36 pm

    In 1951, I had the opportunity on two occasions to play under the Baton of Sir Rudolph Dunbar. The first occasion, with the British Guiana Militia Band playing Eb Clarinet, the second occasion playing Viola with the British Guiana Philharmonic Orchestra. I was thrilled, and he became my Idol.
    Kenrick V. Whitney

  • dhanpaul narine  On 02/19/2021 at 7:58 am

    Thanks Cyril, I am happy to see they Mr. Dunbar is getting the recognition he deserves.

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