CWRU Links

HOLLAND, JUSTIN

HOLLAND, JUSTIN (1819-24 Mar. 1887), black musician and composer best known for his works on the guitar, and also active in the antislavery movement and a leader in black Masonic fraternities, was born in Norfolk County, Va. to free blacks. He went to Chelsea, Mass. in 1833, where he worked and studied flute and guitar, before attending Oberlin Preparatory Department (1841-42) and spending two years in Mexico learning Spanish so he could read the methods of the Spanish guitar masters. Coming to Cleveland around 1845, he established himself primarily as a guitar teacher, but is also credited with 35 original guitar works and 300 published arrangements. In 1874, Holland's Comprehensive Method for the Guitar was pronounced by critics as the best work of its kind in America. As a performing artist, Holland played the flute, piano, and guitar. Holland was involved in the National Negro Conventions of 1848 and 1854, the Ohio State Negro Convention in 1852, and was secretary of Colored Americans of Cleveland. Fluent in Spanish, French, and German, Holland established friendship links between black Masonic lodges in such places as Peru, Portugal, Spain, France, and Germany, thereby gaining an international reputation in that area. He and his wife, Daphine (sometime Delphine) Howard Minor, had sons Justin Minor, himself a guitarist, and Minor; and daughters Lavina, Justina, and Clara. Holland died at his son's home in New Orleans, Louisiana.