Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thread on BBC Website Discusses Neglect of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)

[African Heritage Symphonic Series, Vol. 1; Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; Chicago Sinfonietta; Paul Freeman, conductor; Cedille Records 90000 055 (2000).]

On Sept. 2, 2008 AfriClassical posted “MusicOMH.com: 'Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is someone we really should be proud of'”. It concerned the previous day's performance by The Nash Ensemble of the composer's Clarinet Quintet at the BBC Proms Chamber Music Recital No. 7. Bob Shingleton of the leading classical music blog On An Overgrown Path tells us: “This thread on the BBC website may interest your readers - http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbradio3/F7497567?thread=5854461

Suggestions of a biography of Rudolph Dunbar are coming from several directions at present - I wonder if there is a publisher with vision somewhere? Regards, Bob” We very much appreciate the link, and share Bob's interest in a biography of Rudolph Dunbar, who came to our attention in a fascinating post on his blog, On An Overgrown Path, on April 23, 2007 entitled: “Berlin Philharmonic's first Black Conductor”.

The BBC thread begins with a message by Charles Elford, author of the new biography of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Black Mahler. Although the author makes use of biographies written by members of the composer's family, I take issue with its title. To paraphrase the eminent musicologist Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, "Would we ever call Mahler the 'White Coleridge-Taylor'”? The biography includes considerable detail on the life and music of the composer, but it attempts to reconstruct the thoughts and conversations of the people involved as if they were a matter of record. The back cover of this paperback says: “Black Mahler dramatically brings to life the true story of all but forgotten, English composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)”. Dramatizing is fine for a work of literature, but for purposes of documenting Coleridge-Taylor's biography, the book is not the type of reference work on which I would rely. [Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is profiled at AfriClassical.com]

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