Saturday, March 31, 2012 At Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Event in Accra 'Professor Kwabena Nketia...was on hand to fill in the gaps'

The life and work of a British-born musical genius of African heritage who died a century ago was the subject of a presentation at the WEB Du Bois Centre in Accra on Thursday. 

Entitled ‘Remembering Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’, the presentation, which was organised by UK-based voluntary organisation BTWSC and led by music industry and history consultant Kwaku, highlighted some of the achievements in Coleridge-Taylor’s short life.

Coleridge-Taylor was born in London in 1875 to a British mother and a Sierra Leonean father. He died in 1912, aged 37. Within his short life, he made a great impression within music, both in Britain and internationally, especially in the US, where he successfully toured three times. Within a year of completing his studies at London’s Royal College Of Music, he created two popular compositions in 1898 – ‘A Ballade In A Minor’, and ‘Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’. The latter, a choral and orchestral piece, was the composition that brought him to global prominence.

In spite of his fame, he prided himself in being African, and incorporated African themes within the classical music genre. He was also a pan-Africanist - he was he a member of the African Association, which organised the 1900 Pan-African Conference in London, where he was in charge of the music programme.

The links with Du Bois and other African-American leaders such as the educationalist Booker T Washingtion, were highlighted in the opening speech by Mr BS Ato Keelson, director of the WEB Du Bois Centre. Other speakers included His Excellency Mr KB Asante, who spoke of his colonial education at Achimota College, where his British music mistress did not only teach about Coleridge-Taylor’s compositions such as ‘Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’, but also tried to widen their horizons by stressing the fact that the composer was African.

Dr DEK Baku, head of history at the University Of Ghana, spoke about his discovery of Coleridge-Taylor in a book during the research stages for his PhD, which also highlighted other leading pan-African thinkers such as Mensah Sarbah and Kobina Sekyi, both Gold Coasters.

Professor Kwabena Nketia, who experienced performances of Coleridge-Taylor’s music whilst studying in London, was on hand to fill in the gaps regarding Sierra Leonean musicians who had some connection to Coleridge-Taylor.  
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Major observances of the Centennial of Coleridge-Taylor's death on Sept. 1, 1912 are underway and are the work of organizations including the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation,]

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