Today’s Proof of BLACKNESS: SAMUEL COLERIDGE-TAYLOR
Here’s someone else you should be aware of and one of my favorite composers who played piano and violin.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (15 August 1875 – 1 September 1912) was an English composer who achieved such success that he was once called the “African Mahler”.
Life and work:
Coleridge-Taylor was born in 1875 in Holborn, London, to Alice Hare Martin, an English woman, and Dr Daniel Peter Hughes Taylor, a Sierra Leonean Creole. They were not married. He was named Samuel Coleridge Taylor. His surname was Taylor, and his middle name of Coleridge was after the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His family called him Coleridge Taylor. He later affected the name Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, allegedly following a printer’s typographical error. Daniel Taylor returned to Africa by February 1875 and did not know that he had a son in London. He was appointed coroner for the British Empire in The Gambia in the late 1890s.
Coleridge-Taylor was brought up in Croydon by Martin and her father Benjamin Holmans. Martin’s brother was a professional musician. Taylor studied the violin at the Royal College of Music and composition under Charles Villiers Stanford. He also taught, he was appointed a professor at the Crystal Palace School of Music, and conducted the orchestra at the Croydon Conservatoire.
Died too Young:
He was much sought after for adjudicating at festivals. Coleridge-Taylor was 37 when he died of pneumonia a few days after collapsing at West Croydon railway station. He was buried in Bandon Hill Cemetery, Wallington, Surrey (today in the London Borough of Sutton). The inscription on the fine carved headstone includes a quotation from the composition Hiawatha, in words written by his close friend and poet Alfred Noyes:
Too young to die his great simplicity his happy courage in an alien world his gentleness made all that knew him love him.
King George V granted his widow a pension of £100, evidence of the high regard in which the composer was held. A memorial concert was held later in 1912 at the Royal Albert Hall and garnered £300.
Coleridge-Taylor’s work was later championed by Malcolm Sargent, who between 1928 and 1939 conducted ten seasons of a costumed ballet version of The Song of Hiawatha at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Choral Society (600 to 800 singers) and 200 dancers.