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Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Elegy (1898)

Updated: Jul 18

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)

organist Stephan Griffin


released June 20, 2020

From the short organ collection Arietta, Elegy and Melody, here Samuel Coleridge-Taylor concisely illustrates his high Victorian sensibilities with style and gravitas. Beautiful and accessible music such as this won him wide acclaim, both in the US and his native England. He was raised by his white mother (his Creole biological father from Sierra Leone was unaware of her pregnancy) and her large, supportive, working-class family in Surrey. Inspired by his obvious talent and passion, they saved and pooled money in order to send him to The Royal College of Music at age 15. He endeavored to bring African and Indigenous influences into his classical compositions wherever possible, and became most famous for his ‘Song of Hiawatha’ settings. He was one of the only Black persons to ever be received by president Theodore Roosevelt at the White House. Coleridge-Taylor enjoyed a happy marriage, and both of his children became musicians themselves, though he struggled financially at the end of his short life.