Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman talks about a child prodigy whose tastes ranged from classical music to fiddle hoedowns.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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At her last public performance on Feb. 23, 1991, pianist Ruth Bingaman Smith was honored for her work by a proclamation from Texas Governor Ann Richards. Smith was born Aug. 29, 1894, in Columbus, Ohio, but moved with her family to San Antonio in 1903. In 1905, at the age of 11, Smith made her debut performing Beethoven’s C Major Concerto at San Antonio’s Beethoven Hall. By 1915, she was performing with the San Antonio Symphony.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Ruth Bingaman Smith made several recordings, ranging from classical pieces to the old fiddle tune, “Turkey in the Straw.” Smith died in San Antonio on May 15, 1996 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll visit a nightclub that used music to help break down barriers of racial segregation.