In the Negro Melodies of America I discover a great and Noble School of Music…. These beautiful and varied themes are the products of the soil. They are the folk songs of the United States. Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) Quoted in Music Lovers Quotations, edited by Helen Exley.
Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (pronounced duh-VORE-zhahk) was one of the first of his country to receive worldwide recognition. He is fondly remembered in the United States for helping American composers to begin achieving an American–as compared to European–voice. He advocated for African-American composer Harry Burleigh, who in turn aided Dvorak in his quest to find traditional American spirituals.
American composer Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949)
Wikipedia says of him, : “The first black composer instrumental in developing characteristically American music, Burleigh made black music available to classically trained artists both by introducing them to spirituals and by arranging spirituals in a more classical form.”