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Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

From Academic Kids

This page is about the twentieth century composer; for the nineteenth century poet, see Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
A 1912 obituary in the African Methodist Episcopal Church Review
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A 1912 obituary in the African Methodist Episcopal Church Review

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (August 15, 1875 - September 1, 1912), was an English composer, born in Croydon to a Sierra Leonean father and English mother.

Coleridge-Taylor studied at the Royal College of Music under Stanford, and later taught and conducted the orchestra at the Croydon Conservatory of Music. There he married one of his students, Jessie Walmisley, despite her parents' objection to his half-black parentage.

He soon earned a reputation as a composer, and his successes brought him a tour of America in 1904, which in turn increased his interest in his racial heritage. He attempted to do for African music what Brahms did for Hungarian music and Dvorak for Bohemian music. He was only 37 when he died of pneumonia.

Coleridge-Taylor's greatest success was perhaps his cantata Hiawatha's Wedding-feast. He followed this with several other pieces about Hiawatha: The Death of Minnehaha, Overture to The Song of Hiawatha and Hiawatha's Departure. He also completed an array of chamber music, anthems, and African Romances for violin, among other works.

Coleridge-Taylor was greatly admired by African-Americans; in 1901, a 200-voice African-American chorus was founded in Washington, D.C. called the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Society.

In 1999, freelance music editor Patrick Meadows discovered that three important chamber works by Coleridge-Taylor had apparently never been printed and made available to musicians. After receiving copies for the Royal College of Music in London, he made playing editions of the Nonet, Piano Quintet, and Piano Trio. The works were then performed in Meadow's regular chamber music festival on the island of Majorca, and were well-received by the public as well as the performers.

Coleridge-Taylor also wrote a symphony that is yet unpublished, which Mr. Meadows hopes to tackle in the near future.

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