Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's “Song of Hiawatha Overture”

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Clarinet Quintet (35:39); Koch 3 7056 2H1 (1992)]

The Song of Hiawatha is considered Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's masterwork, yet few people know the name of this composer. Two of his white classmates at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughn-Williams, are very well-known. In my opinion, though, the work of these men does nearly match Coleridge-Taylor for his emotional depth. All three of these composers exploited folk melodies of different sorts and were able to orchestrate in colorful ways, but Coleridge-Taylor is the only one that speaks to me on an emotional level. His music, though occasionally light in texture, is never light-hearted. His music is full of passion and emotion. For this reason, I do believe that his music deserves a place in the Canon. In addition, I believe that the Canon deserves a more diverse representation of humanity. Coleridge-Taylor was one of the first significant composers of color and his contribution should not be over-shadowed.” Full Post

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