Coleridge-Taylor-piano quintet Op.1- Gm- Mov.II- LARGETTO
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Uploaded on Mar 18, 2010
Coleridge-Taylor was born in Holborn, London, to a Sierra Leonean Creole father, Daniel Peter Hughes Taylor, and an English mother, Alice Hare Martin. They were not married. He was born Samuel Coleridge Taylor. His surname was Taylor, and his middle name of Coleridge was after the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He was known by his middle name to his family: Coleridge Taylor. He later affected the name Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, allegedly following a printers typographical error.
The father returned to Africa by February 1875. He was appointed coroner for the British Empire in the Gambia in the late 1890s but was unaware of his son's existence.
Coleridge-Taylor was brought up in Croydon by Martin and her father Benjamin Holmans, whose other son was a professional musician. He studied the violin at the Royal College of Music then composition under Charles Villiers Stanford who conducted the first performance of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, and he also taught and conducted the orchestra at the Croydon Conservatoire. In 1899 he married Jessie Walmisley, a fellow student of his at the RCM who left there in 1893, despite her parents' objection to his mixed race parentage. By her he had a son, Hiawatha (1900-1980) and a daughter, Avril, born Gwendolyn (1903-1998).
By 1896, Coleridge-Taylor had earned a reputation as a composer, later helped by Edward Elgar who recommended him to the Three Choirs Festival which premiered his Ballade in A Minor. His early work was also guided by the influential music editor and critic August Jaeger of music publisher Novello, who told Elgar that Coleridge (as his family called him) was "a genius." His successes brought him a tour of the United States in 1904, which in turn increased his interest in his racial heritage. He sought to do for African music what Johannes Brahms did for Hungarian music and Antonín Dvořák for Bohemian music. He had met the American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar in London and set some of his poems to music, and was also encouraged by Dunbar and other black people to consider his ancestry and the music of the African continent.
Coleridge-Taylor was sometimes seen as shy, but effective in communicating when conducting. He was very kind. Composers were not handsomely paid for their efforts and often sold the rights to works outright, thereby missing out on royalties (a scheme which became widespread only in 1911) which went to publishers who always risked their investments. He was much sought after for adjudicating at festivals.
Coleridge-Taylor was 37 when he died of pneumonia. His widow gave the impression that she was almost penniless but King George V granted her 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. His estate was thus worth approximately the price of three houses, and there were royalties from compositions (but not from Hiawatha which he had sold).
Coleridge-Taylor's work was later championed by Malcolm Sargent who conducted ten seasons of a costumed ballet version of Hiawatha at the Royal Albert Hall between 1928 and 1939 with the Royal Choral Society (600 to 800 singers) and 200 dancers.
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