His playing was a masterful achievment... Varied, capricious, controlled and monumental. . - Tidnengen, Sweden
Authoity, brilliance, and genuine fire were perfectly combined with sensitivity and lyricism.
Uncommonly gifted. His piano recital was both exciting and moving.
-The Washington Post (Washington D.C.)
RAYMOND JACKSON emerged onto the international concert scene in the second half of the twentieth century when a new generation of concert pianists was appearing. In his childhood he was inspired by great artists such as pianists Arthur Rubinstein and Vladimir Horowitz; the magnificent voices of Marian Anderson and Roland Hayes; violinists Jascha Heifetz and Isaac Stern; and numerous other great artists, as well as symphony orchestras. Later William Kapell, Natalie Hinderas and André Watts were among the trail blazers for succeeding generations of successful new keyboard artists.
Following his years at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston (BMus), The Juilliard School in New York City (BS, MS, Professional Diploma, and DMA), and The American Conservatory of Music in Fontainebleau, France, Raymond Jackson received numerous honors, awards, and ecstatic critical reviews which made him well-known in national and international arenas. Where did this story begin for the African-American youngster who grew up in the New England city of Providence, Rhode Island where he began piano studies at the age of four.
In the 1930's and 40's, Providence was certainly not what most would call a major cultural mecca. Without question, it was his family and church affiliation that played an important role in his development as an artist of great integrity. Raised by parents that exemplified service, generosity, and
Piano Competition in Paris, and the Tenth Annual International Piano Competition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On another occasion, in praise of his performance of Chopin’s Sonata No. 2, the Berlin Kurier wrote: “It was like hearing it for the first time.” Performances before standing-room-only audiences in Russia received no less acclamation, as he was showered with flowers and gifts for his memorable performances of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with orchestra. Returning to America, Jackson’s home town of Providence commemorated his successes as he became the first African-American, first musician, and youngest person to be inducted into The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. He was also made an Honorary Member of Providence’s prestigious Chopin Club, and the Chaminade Club.
In Providence, he also received the Black Heritage Society’s Matilda “Sissieretta” Jones Award for the Humanities with a Focus on Cultural Literacy and the Arts. At the same occasion he was awarded commemorative Citations from the Mayor of Providence and Senator from the State of Rhode Island.
As compelling as he was on the performance stage, his expanding reputation as a lecturer and inspiring teacher began to bring him recognition as an academician. On several campuses, he served at Concordia College (Bronxville, NY), the Mannes College of Music (New York City), Catholic University (Washington, DC), and for several summers at the University of Rhode Island. A few years later, Providence’s “Little Professor” fulfilled a childhood prophecy by becoming a Full Professor at Howard University in Washington, DC. In 2013, he retired from Howard Universiy after 36 years of distinguished service.
Dr. Jackson's legacy will continue with his forthcoming 3-CD set of recordings featuring the works of 19th century Romantic Composers; Composers of African descent; and Composers who graduated from Howard University’s Department of Music.
-The Washington Post (Washington D.C.)
While three o’clock radio broadcasts of The New York Philharmonic Orchestra—featuring renowned conductors like Arturo Toscanini, Dmitri Mitropoulos, and Sir Thomas Beecham—expanded his musical literacy, he also found immense satisfaction playing the piano for a retirement home occasionally on Sunday afternoons. Recognizing his early mastery of the piano, his parents encouraged him to study the organ which expanded his musical knowledge and keyboard skills. As a teenager his mastery of this new instrument gave him the opportunity to play on the newly installed pipe organ in his own church, where he served as both organist and choir director for 6 years, playing and conducting from the console anthems and choral masterpieces that included Handel’s “Messiah,” and Stainer’s “Seven Last Words of Christ,” and others. In subsequent positions, from the organ he also conducted the Requiems of Verdi and Brahms.
These earlier roles, however, earned him money which, along with the financial support of his parents, enabled him to pay for future college expenses. For “The Little Professor,” as he was fondly known for carrying a briefcase full of books and music, recognition of a burgeoning career became more and more evident.
Beginning to outgrow the piano lessons of Providence’s local teachers, his parents enrolled him for piano lessons at The New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) while still in junior high school. Each Saturday for five years he waited at a corner bus stop to board the Greyhound bus for a 43 mile northbound journey to Boston that would further prepare him for his subsequent history-making years as a full-time NEC undergraduate student. Upon graduating from Providence’s Hope High School, he was awarded The Hope Key for Outstanding Service and Achievements, and thereafter became a full-time NEC Piano Performance Major. Earning his Bachelor of Music Degree, he made front page headlines in Boston newspapers as the first in NEC history to simultaneously graduate first in his class, summa cum laude, and receive the prestigious George Whitefield Chadwick Medal--NEC’s highest honor. Fifty years later, NEC presented him with its Outstanding Alumni Award.
Immediately following his time at NEC, he left for New York City to further his studies
compassion for the less fortunate, Sunday mornings found him riding in the family’s 1938 Buick, seated beside his mother Beulah, ready to jump out to open the car door for the neighborhood elderly and infirmed who were provided transportation to church; or on other occasions to deliver her delicious home-made pies, cakes, or hot rolls to neighbors.
towards Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Doctor of Musical Arts Degrees, and a Professional Diploma from The Juilliard School. His distinguished piano teachers were Beveridge Webster, Sascha Gorodnitzki and Ania Dorfmann. It was in the final degree program that he began the research that led to his significant doctoral document, “The Piano Music of Twentieth Century Black Composers” - an important work that would become The Juilliard Library’s most frequently requested title at that time.
The next chapter of these early years led to a series of piano competitions, advanced training and internationally accalaimed recitals. A summer of study at The American Conservatory of Music in Fontainebleau, France was coupled with a year of private study in Paris with the dynamic French pianist, Jeanne-Marie Darré. As winner of the National Association of Negro Musicians Piano Competition and the 1959 JUGG, Inc. New York Town Hall Debut Award, his successful New York recital became a springboard that catapulted his career into a larger arena. In 1963 his international career began auspiciously with debut recitals in Vienna, where a critic of The Podium called him “a God-gifted musician.” In Munich, the Suddeutsche Zeitung labeled him “A masterly talent;” and for his performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in Mannheim, Germany, their music critic labeled him as “a first class virtuoso.” Other stunning reviews were chronicled for recitals in London, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Geneva, Athens, and Rio de Janeiro.
Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of George Gershwin’s 1926 premier performance of his Rhapsody in Blue with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in New York City’s Aeolian Hall, in 1976 Raymond Jackson was invited to perform Rhapsody in Blue with orchestra in commemorative concerts in the Philadelphia Academy of Music and New York City’s Carnegie Hall.
His most significant achievements during this time were being one of the top 3 prizewinners (out of over 200 international pianists) in the Marguerite Long International
gifted. His piano recital was both exciting and moving."
- The Washington Post
and genuine fire were
perfectly combined with sensitivity and lyricism."
- Providence Journal
"His playing brought down the house!"
- Greensboro Daily News