Introducing the Philippa Schuyler Committee | Bettina Network's Blog

Introducing the Philippa Schuyler Committee

Ed Note: The Bettina Network, inc. is one of the organizations supporting this committee. If you are interested in working on this project-contributing-knowing more about it, please call or email Marceline Donaldson at

A committee has formed and started its work of research and remembering, to bring back to public consciousness and its proper place in the world’s history – the enormous talent and sheer brilliance of Philippa Schuyler.

Ms. Schuyler was a child prodigy, who was known the world over as a great composer and pianist. She played for kings and queens; heads of state; emperors and their subjects; and ordinary folks like us. She played major concerts in South America, Asia, many countries in Africa, Europe, Scandinavia, – she played in just about every country in the world. Her concerts were always filled to capacity and people gathered to see Philippa wherever she travelled. Ms. Schuyler lived from 1931-1967.

The daughter of George Schuyler, editor and publisher of the Pittsburgh Courier and Josephine Cogswell Schuyer, artist, – Philippa was recognized as extremely talented and a young genius by the time she was three years old. She composed over 200 pieces and very early on, critics compared her to a young Mozart.

In addition to her life as a composer and concert pianist, Ms. Schuyler was also a journalist. She followed in her fathers foot-steps with investigative reporting pieces which she researched and wrote, while travelling to play concerts in different places. One well known article written by Philippa was her report on the death of Patrice Lumumba. Because it was a controversial piece and other media outlets did not believe what she wrote was factual, the only paper which published this article,at the time, was the Union Leader of New Hampshire. William Loeb, then publisher of the Union Leader was a friend of George Schuyler and he was a fan and friend of Philippa’s. Mr. Loeb gambled, that from what he knew of the family, the article was accurate. The controversy died out when the State Department, some seven months later, came out with the results of its investigation. Philippa’s article was very accurate as to the details of Lumumba’s death and the articles published and accepted by other media as a description of how Lumumba died, were wrong. Several media outlets had to backtrack and apologize for their misinformation – several didn’t bother, just kept going and printed the accurate version without acknowledging their mistakes.

Philippa was killed in Vietnam in 1967. She was there to play concerts for the United States’ troops. After her concerts she helped Catholic Charities move Vietnamese orphans to places where they could receive care. And in the midst of all this activity, Philippa wrote several articles on the war, as she experienced it and as the many contacts she had in the country gave her information that at the time was not accessible to others. If you would like to know more about how Philippa died in Vietnam you can read the record of the Congressional investigation into her death, which goes into detail.

One goal of the Schuyler Committee is to re-introduce Philippa Schuylers’ music to symphony orchestras around the United States and to performing musicians to have them add her music to their repertoires. Music Ms. Schuyler composed was played, before her death, by the New York Philharmonic and several other major symphony orchestras. These concerts showcased and acknowledged Philippa’s musical genius.

Today, through the efforts of the Schuyler Committee, Philippa’s music will become a regular part of classical concerts. The Committee is also encouraging musicians to transcribe her music for their instruments so it can be performed by a wider variety of people on their concert programs.

Another goal, as a permanent legacy, the Schuyler Committee will also bring together a symphony orchestra which will remain after this project is finished. This orchestra will be a very diverse group of people of all colors and from all parts of the country. It will have traits and repertoire reminiscent of current symphony orchestras, but it will also incorporate the classical music of Africa, African Americans, South Americans, Caribbeans, Middle Easterners, etc. There will be every shade and kind of person in the orchestra. It will not be an example of nor affected by the still and continuing colonialization of classical music which has existed and continues to exist, but it will be what we hope is a stunning example of reproducing – live and in recordings – the music the world has and will produce.

It is clear such a symphony orchestra is possible and it is equally clear there are excellent musicians available to carry it off. That will be the legacy of the Schuyler Committee when it goes out of business.

The Committee operates as a network, not as another organization one joins. The work of the committee is taken up by those who find it is something they can do and have the talent and resources to accomplish.

The new symphony orchestra is a very fitting end-result of the Schuyler Committee since Philippa’s struggle all of her life was for her music to be heard as the music she produced, not as music produced by a “Negro” – which was the term of her time. Remembering that she played every place except for White America and Northern Europe and England until she attempted to change her identity to something other than “Negro” – at which time her geograpical concertizing expanded to include the above areas. Before that change of identity she was stymied and appeared in the United States mostly in front of African American audiences and in the rest of the world she concertized in Africa, the Middle East, South America, etc.

To hear an internet radio interview on Philippa Schuyler and this committee try
Click on the picture of Dr. Faye Williams and it will take you to the archives. In the archives is the radio interview.

Members of the Schuyler Committee currently include:

Ann Bennett, Independent Film Professional – New York, N. Y.
The Rev. Dr. Robert Bennett – retired Episcopal clergy – Cambridge, MA
Stanford J. Carter, mentor 100 Black men in America – DeQuincy, LA.
Amb. Harold E. Doley, Jr. – founder and Chairman Emeritus, Doley Securities – Irvington, N. Y.
Marceline Donaldson, entrepreneur – Cambridge, MA.
Walter J. Foley, Executive Director, Trinity Fund Raising Consultants of L.I. – Walpole, MA.
Ruth Hill – Oral History Coordinator, Schlesinger Library/Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Annette LeBlanc – International Trader – Takoma Park, MD
Dr. Robert Perry – physics teacher – New Orleans, LA.
Regina Reed, Realtor – Minnetonka, MN.
The Rev. George Thomas, retired Congregational (UCC) clergy – Atlanta, GA.
Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. – National Chair, National Congress of Black Women, inc. – Washington, D. C.
Charles Wynder, Jr. – attorney and seminarian, Cambridge, MA.
Bethany Dickerson Wynder – program director, Phelps Stokes, Cambridge, MA.

questions or for more information: contact Marceline Donaldson 1-800-347-9166 or outside the U. S. 617 497 9166


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