philippa-schuyler

Concert pianist Philippa Duke Schuyler, age 14

Piano prodigy Philippa Duke Schuyler was the daughter of a politically conservative black journalist and a white former Southern beauty queen.  George Schuyler and Josephine Codgell were proponents of interracial marriage and believed that biracial children had the potential to be exceptional thanks to their mixed heritage. 

Josephine devoted herself to developing her daughter’s expected genius.  A raw food proponent, Josephine fed Philippa a diet of raw vegetables, raw beef, and cod liver oil.  Philippa was educated mainly at home and by age two her spelling ability was profiled in a New York newspaper.  By four, Philippa was an established piano prodigy, often performing her own compositions.  Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was among her fans.  Her IQ was tested to be 185.

As a teenager Philippa was an international touring pianist, but she struggled to find tour sponsors due to her race and gender.  As she matured, Philippa became disillusioned with both her parents and the discrimination she faced.  Philippa gave up performing in her thirties and became a journalist. 

While on assignment in Vietnam in 1967, Philippa’s helicopter crashed and unable to swim, she drown.  Heartbroken, Josephine committed suicide on the second anniversary of her daughter’s death. 

A middle school in Brooklyn is named in Philippa’s honor.  

Philippa Schuyler's parents, journalist George S. Schuyler, and Josephine Cogdell, a Texas heiress and beauty queen, believed mixed-race children inherited the “strengths” of their parents’ races and grew up to be extraordinary people with the power to ease racial tension. They raised their daughter to be a genius–or a prodigy, rather–by educating her at an early age and feeding her only raw food (her mother believed that cooking food–including meat–destroyed its vitamin content). By the time she was two years old, Philippa was able to read and write, and by the time she was four, she was a skilled pianist who even composed her own music.

Throughout her childhood, Philippa performed all over the country for radio and on the stage. Her parents shielded her from the media coverage she’d received to keep her from being self-conscious. As Philippa got older, she became disillusioned with the American entertainment industry. After much shielding by her parents, she was now old enough to understand and recognize racial prejudice in America and had been rejected by America’s classical music elite because of her race and her gender, as well.

Also, Philippa had finally gone through scrapbooks that her parents kept to document her career. When she read her parents’ quotes about their beliefs and her upbringing, she’d come to an unfortunate realization that her conception, her talent, and her success were all results of a “genetic and behavioral experiment”. Throughout the rest of her life, Philippa would struggle with her identity. 

Read more on Wikipedia, On An Overgrown Path (Blogspot), the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (Yale), and in Composition in Black and White: The Life of Philippa Schuyler (Biography)

Philippa Schuyler

(Black/White) [American]

Known as: Child prodigy/genius, pianist & composer, pioneering feminist, journalist, author, war correspondent

More about Philippa: Her compositions were performed by numerous American orchestras by the time she was a teen; She accompanied the New York Philharmonic at age 16; Performed piano all around the world; Influence a rise in learning the piano in the American Black community; Early campaigner against female circumcision in Africa; Rated at over 180 IQ

More Information: Syracuse University: Philippa Schuyler Papers, Extravagant Crowd - Philippa Duke Schuyler, Philippa Schuyler - genius or genetic experiment?, The Washington Post: So Young, So Gifted, So Sad, Philippa Schuyler’s Wikipedia page


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Pianist, composer and writer Philippa Schuyler, circa 1949.  She was born in 1931 to black author and journalist George Schuyler and his wife, Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, a white woman from a wealthy ranching and banking family in Texas who disowned her upon her marriage to Schuyler.

A child prodigy, Ms. Schuyler was playing piano recitals by age four and went on to compose a symphony, Manhattan Nocturne, in 1945 at age thirteen. She debuted at the New York Philharmonic with it in April of that year.

Weary of the constant racism that stalled her career in the United States, she toured South America and Europe throughout the 1950s.  By the 1960s, she gave up her career and followed in her father’s footsteps as both a journalist and an ultra-conservative. She was working for the Manchester Union Leader of New Hampshire as a correspondent to Vietnam when she died in a helicopter crash near Da Nang in 1967.  She was 35.

In 2004, Halle Berry purchased the rights to Philippa Schuyler’s biography, Compositions in Black and White: The Life of Philippa Schuyler by Kathryn Talalay. Alicia Keys was announced as the star and that would be great. But if it doesn’t work out, I still think that Jurnee Smollett would be fantastic in this role.

Composition in Black and White: The Life of Philippa Schuyler by Kathryn Talalay

George Schuyler, a renowned and controversial black journalist of the Harlem Renaissance, and Josephine Cogdell, a blond, blue-eyed Texas heiress and granddaughter of slave owners, believed that intermarriage would “invigorate” the races, thereby producing extraordinary offspring. Their daughter, Philippa Duke Schuyler, became the embodiment of this theory, and they hoped she would prove that interracial children represented the final solution to America’s race problems.

Able to read and write at the age of two and a half, a pianist at four, and a composer by five, Philippa was often compared to Mozart. During the 1930s and 40s she graced the pages of Time and Look magazines, the New York Herald Tribune, and The New Yorker. Philippa grew up under the adoring and inquisitive eyes of an entire nation and soon became the role model and inspiration for a generation of African-American children. But as an adult she mysteriously dropped out of sight, leaving America to wonder what had happened to the “little Harlem genius.”

The first authorized biography of Philippa Schuyler, Composition in Black and White draws on previously unpublished letters and diaries to reveal an extraordinary and complex personality. Extensive research and personal interviews from around the world make this book not only the definitive chronicle of Schuyler’s restless and haunting life, but also a vivid history of the tumultuous times she lived through, from the Great Depression, through the Civil Rights movement, to the Vietnam war. Talalay has created a highly perceptive and provocative portrait of a fascinating woman. [book link ]

Child Prodigy Philippa Schuyler.  Her father George Schuyler was an author and African American while her mother Josephine Cogdell was a white Texan from a wealthy family.  Once Josephine married George, she was disowned form her wealthy family which made her eccentric beliefs about race stronger. 

Philippa’s mother believed biracial children were genetically superior than mono race children and raised Philippa to prove this point.  

By her 13th year Schuyler had already established the basis of her career as a concert pianist and composer; in 1944 Schuyler premiered her piano-orchestral work Manhattan Nocturne with the New York Philharmonic, and she returned in 1946 to play the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22, of Camille Saint-Saëns. Many African-American children her age and younger looked up to Schuyler as a model example of what a black child in America could achieve.”

Above is from the below link:

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/philippa-schuyler-mn0002220462/biography

Philippa had a very different childhood, her parents only fed her raw food, even meat was served raw and her mother did not believe in hugs or affection, instead she was strongly disciplined with reported beatings.  Later in her life she was not able to get many paying appearances in the US so she went to Europe, changed her name and declared herself white.

http://blackamericaweb.com/2014/07/15/little-known-black-history-fact-phillipa-schuyler/

And god gave me “the baby genius of the Harlem Renaissance."

Last night I was reading about Barbara Follett, a 1920s vintage child prodigy who published a bestseller at age 12 and was then promptly forgotten (http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/essays/vanishing-act.php?page=6), so naturally I woke up this morning with Philippa Schuyler on the brain. I’ve been impatient to see the promised movie about Philippa Schuyler since Alicia Keys first started leading me on about it in 2004. As far as I know, it hasn’t been filmed yet.

Philippa Schuyler, pianist and composer: Actual child prodigy! Writing symphonies at 5! Touring the world at 11!  She was sold to a mostly white public as “a mulatto child prodigy,” and white America’s interest was brutally short-lived.

Eccentric and fucked up parents! Dad a really interesting writerly thorn in the side of the Harlem Renaissance, Mom a penitent at the House of Gertrude Temple and raw foodism. At the New York World’s Fair in 1940, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia declared June 19 “Philippa Duke Schuyler Day.” She died at 35 in a helicopter crash in Vietnam, airlifting children from a war zone in Hue.

Listen, powers that be: when I’m over-educated and underemployed, I’m pretty sure I am the perfect person to whip this film project back into shape. Call me… uh, Tumbl me.

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Talent comes in all shapes, sizes, and ages! Take a look back at some of America’s prodigies and child stars!

Stars like Sammy Davis, Jr., Florence Mills, and Josephine Baker got their starts as kids/teens! Check out this post to learn more!

Little Known Black History Fact: Philippa Schuyler

http://bit.ly/1hQz2Tg

By Erica L. Taylor, The Tom Joyner Morning Show Philippa Schuyler was a pianist child prodigy, born in the 1930′s. She composed a famous piece called “Harlem’s Mozart: The Shirley Temple of American Negroes.” Born to a black journalist and a white daughter of a Texas ranger, (who had …

#News, #PhilippaSchuyler

American child prodigy Philippa Schuyler.

Born on August 2, 1931 to a black essayist/journalist (George Schuyler) and a white heiress (Josephine Cogdell). 

Philippa began writing compositions at the age of five and was one of the world’s most widely recognized pianists during the 1930s and 1940s.

Philippa abandoned the piano in her thirties and became a journalist like her father. In 1967, she traveled to Vietnam as a war correspondent and during a helicopter mission there, the plane crashed into the sea. Philippa survived the crash, but sadly, her inability to swim caused her to drown.

Philippa was 35 years old when she passed away–and sadly, her mother committed suicide on the second anniversary of her death.

((Photo from: Blogspot//On An Overgrown Path))