Sunday, May 30, 2010

British Music Radio on Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: '...your discography will help greatly.'

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; Chicago Sinfonietta; Paul Freeman; Cedille 90000 055 (2000]

British Music Radio,, is a non-profit online classical music website, “Dedicated to the promotion of classical music composed by British composers, from earliest-known to present day.” AfriClassical recently received a request for names of British composers whose music has been neglected. In response, we called attention to the rich discography of music by the Afro-British composer, conductor and professor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), who is profiled at Today we received this reply from Jan Cosgrove, which is followed by our message:

Thanks, and very helpful info too. You can be sure we will not neglect this fascinating gent in any way, and your discography will help greatly. Please keep in touch.

Hello Jan,

In response to your email request for suggestions of British composers whose works are undervalued, I can think of no better example than Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912). This email is based on the composer's page at my website,

Coleridge-Taylor rose to prominence in 1898, the year he turned 23, on the strength of two works. The first was his Ballade in A Minor. It was commissioned for the prestigious annual Three Choirs Festival at the suggestion of the British composer Edward Elgar (1857-1934). The piece was a critical and popular success.

Coleridge-Taylor's second major composition of 1898 was his musical Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, for which he is best known. The work is a setting of verses from Song of Hiawatha by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He conducted its premier to great acclaim. The work was staged hundreds of times in the United Kingdom alone during the next 15 years.

The Coleridge-Taylor page at discusses the composer's major works, including 24 Negro Melodies, Op. 59, which is available on two recordings. Coleridge-Taylor's Violin Concerto in G Minor, Op. 80 can be found on multiple recordings, including the version of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Avie AV0044 (2004); and one by the London Philharmonic Orchestra on Lyrita SRCD.317 (2007).

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and the Encore Chamber Orchestra, led by Daniel Hege, Conductor, have made a world premiere recording of Coleridge-Taylor's Romance in G Major for Violin and Orchestra. The CD is Cedille 90000 035 (1997).

The Coleridge Ensemble is a 10-member group based in Massachusetts and dedicated to performance of works by composers of African descent. It has recorded chamber music of Coleridge-Taylor on AFKA SK 543 (1998).

In 1999 the Southwest German Chamber Orchesta, led by Vladislav Czarnecki, Conductor, released a recording on the EBS label entitled Novelleten der Romantik (Novelletas of Romanticism).

Another chamber music recording is: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Chamber Music, Centaur CRC 2691. The performers are Kelly Burke, clarinet, and John Fadial, violin. The works are: Quintet in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 10; Four African Dances, Op. 58; and Nonet in F Minor, Op. 2.

Ballade is the title of a CD of works by Edvard Grieg, Claude Debussy and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, on EDI Records 9259 (2005). The performers are violinist Nokuthula Ngwenyama, an American of Zimbabwean-Japanese heritage, and Mihae Lee, a pianist born in South Korea. Coleridge-Taylor is represented on the disc by his Ballade in C Minor for Violin and Piano, Op. 73 (13:36).

Coleridge-Taylor's Symphony in A Minor is an attractive student work on ClassicO 684 (2006). His Piano Quintet in G Minor (26:23), Ballade in C Minor (13:00), and Clarinet Quintet in F-sharp Minor (29:56) have been recorded by The Nash Ensemble on Hyperion CDA67590 (2007).

Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, Petite Suite de Concert and Bamboula (55:39) are performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Malcolm Sargent, Conductor; and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, with Kenneth Alwyn, Conductor; EMI Classics for Pleasure 5870242 (2005).

Additional recordings are listed on the Coleridge-Taylor page at This composer's music is highly accessible and easily available. I urge you to add his recordings to British Music Radio.

I am copying this email to my associate in the U.K., Michael S. Wright, and my principal advisor, Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University Conservatory, Appleton, Wisconsin. Feel free to contact them if you wish. I hope to hear from you.

William J. Zick
Ann Arbor, Michigan

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