Nora Holt

Negro Dance, Op. 25 No. 1 is a four page ragtime-like piano piece written in ternary form. Marked Allegro Vivace, the piece presents an array of technical challenges. Although the piece is written in a relatively easy key to read, G major, there is a significant presence of chromaticism. There are also many sequences, however hands move often in the same position. Additionally, this dance requires a performer to have strong rhythmic skills as there are a lot of syncopations and tricky rhythms. Other technical challenges are runs and figurations in thirds, long arpeggios, accents, and constant shifts between legato and staccato. Holt Publishing Co edition includes helpful fingering for the piece. The piece is marked as being published in 1921. The piece was re-published by Vivace Press (edited by Helen Walker Hill) in 2001. 

Nora Douglas Holt (1885-1974) was an American singer, composer and music critic. Known as Lena Douglas before her fourth marriage, she was born in Kansas City, KS to an African Methodist Episcopal Church minister and the first matron of the girl’s building at Western University. Nora Holt studied music composition, musicology, and music criticism at Western University and earned a Master’s Degree from Chicago Musical College, becoming the first African American to receive a Master's Degree in the United States. Later she worked as the music critic for the Chicago Defender, Amsterdam News and the New York Courier. In 1919 Douglas co-founded the National Association of Negro Musicians, while also continuing to compose and perform. After marrying her fourth husband, an elderly Chicago hotel owner named George Holt, she traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia as a socialite, composer, and performer. Before leaving the United States, she placed her nearly 200 works of orchestral and chamber music in storage. Those were later stolen. Fortunately, two compositions, The Sandman (a song) and Negro Dance (piano piece), were preserved because of their publication in Music and Poetry (a magazine Nora ran at some point of her life). After returning from abroad, Nora Holt settled in Los Angeles, CA.