Monday, May 21, 2012 Early Education, from 'Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a Musical Life' by Jeffrey Green

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor in 1881 (Walter Wallis)

On April 28, 2012 AfriClassical posted: “ Parents and Early Years of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, From Biography by Jeffrey Green.” We used as our guide the book published by Pickering and Chatto in 2011, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a Musical Life by Jeffrey Green. The book received a very favorable review from our principal advisor, Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma. The biography is not only factual but engrossing and enjoyable. The reader is given a good sense of the times as well as an understanding of the people involved in the life of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

The revision which has been posted today mainly involves Sections “8 British School” through “18 Royal College of Music” on the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor page. The young Coleridge-Taylor attemded the British School for about 8 years. It was operated by Nonconformist Christians who regarded Anglican education as “indoctrination,” Jeffrey Green tells us. He provides details of the special role Coleridge-Taylor played in the music activities of the school, because of his exceptional ability to sing and play the violin.

The author credits Benjamin Holmans, the youth's maternal grandfather, with teaching some basics of playing the violin, and with subsequently paying for private violin lessons given by a local music professor, Joseph Beckwith. We are told some guidance may have been provided by the professional musician who was the boy's uncle.

The biography relates the arrival of George William Evans as the stepfather of Coleridge-Taylor. Three children were born to the couple, Alice in 1886, Victor in 1890 and Marjorie in 1896. By the time Benjamin Holmans died in 1896, he had been succeeded as head of household by William Evans.

Jeffrey Green explains that John Drage, Head Teacher at the British School, brought the vocal talents of Coleridge-Taylor to the attention of Herbert Walters, Choirmaster at St. George's Presbyterian Church in Croydon. The author adds that Herbert Walters guided the early musical training of the youth, and facilitated his admission to the Royal College of Music through a long conversation with his good friend Sir George Grove, now chiefly known in connection with the Grove Dictionary of Music, who was in charge of the school.

[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,]

Comment by email:
Dear Bill, It is very satisfactory  to me that you have found the biography to be worthwhile. Best wishes, Jeff Green

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