Monday, December 2, 2013

Henry "Harry" T. Burleigh, African American Composer, Arranger & Baritone, credited with the concept of the Spiritual as Art Song, was born December 2, 1866

Henry Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949)

Randye Jones in Deep River (Negro Spiritual) / H. T. Burleigh on YouTube

Henry "Harry" Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949) was an African American composer, arranger and baritone soloist who was born in Erie, Pennsylvania on December 2, 1866.  He is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,  Burleigh was baritone soloist in the 1904 presentation of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's musical  Hiawatha's Wedding Feast.   Here are a few of the brief audio samples at the website:

Negro Spirituals in Brazil; Juarês de Mira, bass
     a Swing Low, Sweet Chariot 
     b Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen
     c Go Down Moses

Dominique-René de Lerma wrote about Henry Burleigh's relationship with Antonin Dvorák in AfriClassical on February 20, 2013:

It is very often stated that Harry Burleigh was a composition student of Antonín Dvorák.  Not so.  Although he made up for it by the time he began transforming the spirituals into art songs (1917), he originally did not pass the entrance examinations at New York's National Conservatory of Music.  It is true, however, that he introduced many spirituals to Dvorak, copied orchestral parts for the composer's ninth symphony, and did attend the 1893 première of the work.

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