Click the links below to see and hear each of the pieces.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (15 August 1875 – 1 September 1912) was an English composer and conductor. Of mixed race birth, Coleridge-Taylor achieved such success that he was referred to by white New York musicians as the “African Mahler” when he had three tours of the United States in the early 1900s. He was particularly known for his three cantatas on the epic poem, Song of Hiawatha by American Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Coleridge-Taylor premiered the first section in 1898, when he was 22. He married an Englishwoman, Jessie Walmisley, and both their children had musical careers. Their son Hiawatha adapted his father’s music for a variety of performances. Their daughter Avril Coleridge-Taylor became a composer-conductor.
These five pieces come from early in Coleridge-Taylor’s life, but already show his gift for attractive melodies and inventive harmonic twists. There are moments reminiscent of the folk inspired pieces of Brahms and Dvorak, most notable the Humoresque and the Dance. The Prelude contrasts syncopated crotchet triplets with more standard rhythms to create both tensions and excitement, whilst the Serenade (in an unusual 5 beat metre) is both melodic and flowing. The Minuet and Trio shows a sense of refinement and elegance.
The music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor needs to be more widely known, and it is hoped that this new arrangement will help to bring it to a wider audience. All parts are melodic and attractive, and particularly the alto and bass parts are fully involved in the music.