Sunday, October 24, 2021

Jupiter Symphony Chamber Orchestra: Oct. 25, 2021, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 1, 2 PM and 7:30 PM, Good Shepherd Presbyterian

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)

Jupiter Symphony Chamber Orchestra

Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, New York City

Samuel COLERIDGE-TAYLOR  Piano Quintet in G minor Op. 1 ▪ 1893
  ▪ radiating with original melodies, strong rhythms, and variety in tone color, the Quintet reveals the influence of his favorite composer Dvořák ~ written at the age of 18

After its premiere at a concert on 9 October 1893 devoted entirely to the composer’s works, the critic of the Croydon Advertiser called the Quintet “astonishing.” Coleridge-Taylor was in his third year of studies at the time. He had entered the Royal College of Music in 1890 at age 15 as a violin student. His “music class” taught by Walter Parratt, however, went badly and he slid from “fair” to “irregular” to “very irregular” by December 1891. Yet he wrote an anthem, In thee, O Lord, which was immediately published by Novello in 1891. As he continued to be uninspired by Parratt, young Samuel received the comment “bad” at the end of the Easter term in 1892, after which he dropped the class and studied harmony with Charles Wood, who reported, “his work has been in every respect excellent.” Just weeks after his 17th birthday, he also started studying composition with Charles Villiers Stanford and replaced his violin studies with the piano. By March 1893 he won the first in a succession of composition scholarships. Stanford regarded Coleridge-Taylor as brilliant—especially his flair for melody—and reported at the end of the Easter term of 1895: “Invariable” for Regularity and Punctuality,“Indefatigable” for Industry, and “Indisputable” for Progress.

Known as the “Black Mahler,” Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912)—the son of a Sierra Leonean Creole father and English mother—was named Samuel after the poet. Much admired in his day for his prodigious talent and refined musical taste, his greatest hit was the cantata Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. Coleridge-Taylor was proud to be “an Englishman” even though he suffered intense racism. On several occasions he visited the United States where he was warmly received; he met Booker T. Washington and President Theodore Roosevelt, who invited him to the White House. He was an ardent supporter of the Pan-African Movement, and was intent on establishing “the dignity of the Black man.” In 1912 he contracted double pneumonia and died at the age of 37. He left two children, Hiawatha and Gwendolyn, both of whom had distinguished careers as conductors and composers.

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