Monday, August 14, 2017

Afro-British Composer, Conductor and Professor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was born August 15

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, profiled at, was born on August 15, 1875 in the London suburb of Croydon, England. His mother was an Englishwoman and his father was an African physician who returned to his home country of Sierra Leone when he found patients in England would not come to him for treatment. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a leading Pan-Africanist who collaborated extensively with the African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Coleridge-Taylor rose to prominence in 1898, the year he turned 23, on the strength of two works. The first was Ballade in A Minor. Next came Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, for which he is best known. It is a setting of verses from Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He conducted its premier to great acclaim. The work was staged hundreds of times in the United Kingdom and North America during the next 15 years.
The composer made three hugely successful tours of North America, in 1904, 1906 and 1910. Britain had no system of royalties, so Coleridge-Taylor was paid only once for each composition, no matter how successful it became. He held multiple teaching and conducting positions in an effort to support his family. This led to exhaustion which worsened the pneumonia from which he died on Sept. 1, 1912, at age 37.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation Website,

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