Samuel Coleridge Taylor...British African composer

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (15 August 1875 – 1 September 1912) was an English composer of part Creole descent who achieved such success that he was once called the "African Mahler". Coleridge-Taylor's greatest success was undoubtedly his cantata Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, which was widely performed by choral groups in England during Coleridge-Taylor's lifetime and in the decades after his death. Its popularity was rivalled only by the choral standards Handel's Messiah and Mendelssohn's Elijah. The composer soon followed Hiawatha's Wedding Feast with two other cantatas about Hiawatha, The Death of Minnehaha and Hiawatha's Departure; all three were published together, along with an Overture, as The Song of Hiawatha, Op. 30. The tremendously popular Hiawatha seasons at the Royal Albert Hall, which continued till 1939, were conducted by Sargent and involved hundreds of choristers, and scenery covering the organ loft. Hiawatha's Wedding Feast is still occasionally revived. Coleridge-Taylor also composed chamber music, anthems, and the African Dances for violin, among other works. The Petite Suite de Concert is still regularly played. He set one poem by his near-namesake Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Legend of Kubla Khan.


 VIDEO: Charles Kaufmann's documentary from 2013 about the English classical music composer of Sierra-Leonean descent, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912), was made during the centennial of SC-T's death in 2012, and includes a number of excellent premiere recordings of SC-T works. Concentrating on Coleridge-Taylor and his visits to the United States in 1904, 1906 and 1910 — and his influence on the founders of the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the NAACP — this documentary is a who's-who of SC-T scholarship, with commentary by historians who have spent their lives researching SC-T and his work. Additional first rate performances are contributed by Rachel Barton Pine, violinist, Rodrick Dixon, tenor, and a score of talented African-American singers and instrumentalists. Mini documentaries within give insight into the lives of Maud Powell and J. Rosamond Johnson. Of special interest is the performance of one of SC-T's last works, "Keep me From Sinking Down," for violin and orchestra, based on the African-American spiritual — prepared from the manuscript score and presented on the centennial of its first performance on location in Norfolk, Connecticut, where American violinist Maud Powell first played the work on June 4, 1912.