Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: The Centenary Legacy (1st September 2012)

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor1 September 2012, was the centenary anniversary of the death of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.   Below is the appreciation of Coleridge-Taylor, man of music and protagonist for equality, which I wrote to mark this significant milestone for the Huffington Post UK, along with a reiteration also of the appreciation which William Zick of the AfriClassical (USA) website has posted on that site.

You, the reader, are also most welcome to add as a Comment (below) your own contributory link to this post, in appreciation of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and his enduring legacy.

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Dominique-Rene de Lerma donation of Coleridge-Taylor bibliography and list of works to the SCTF website

Various SC-T books and CDsIn a hugely significant step towards realising our intention to bring Coleridge-Taylor’s life and works to public attention as he deserves, the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation was delighted in 2012 to announce that the distinguished American researcher and scholar Dr. Dominique-Rene de Lerma generously entrusted us with publication on our website of his extensive bibliography and list of composed and performed works (documents, manuscripts, performances and other material) relating to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.  You will find Dr. de Lerma’s entire list of publications on this website, under the menu entitled Bibliography.  His list of Samuel-Taylor’s Works are also available, under the menu entitled Works.

A brief biography of Dominique-Rene de Lerma is attached below.

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Patrick Meadows (1934-2017)

Patrick MeadowsLionel Harrison writes:

Admirers of the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and visitors to the Foundation website will undoubtedly be aware of the enormous contribution made by Patrick Meadows towards rescuing SC-T’s music from the relative (and undeserved) obscurity into which it had fallen.

Patrick’s own ‘interview with myself’ posted elsewhere on the site describes how he came to be involved with publishing those works which had never before been printed or which, in the case of Thelma, was believed lost until Catherine Carr turned it up.

Please note (2017) that scores prepared by the late Patrick Meadows are now handled by Musica Mundana Musikverlag GmbH. The best way to contact them is probably via

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SCTF Speakers Join Panels For Commemorative Events

Two Autumn 2012 events in London (on Friday 5th and Tuesday 16th October) will commemorate the centenary of the death of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, with speakers from the SCT Foundation presenting their findings on the composer’s life and works.

Friday 5th October

Victoria and Albert Museum, Hochhauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2RL, at 18.30:

Death of a Musical Genius: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Remembered

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor died 100 years ago, aged 37.  He was born to an English mother in London and a doctor from Sierra Leone. To mark this special anniversary, hear a newly commissioned celebration and talks and excerpts of Coleridge-Taylor’s music, led by prominent and talented artists, scholars and historians who will pay tribute to his musical genius.


Writing ‘From an English Point of View’: Coleridge-Taylor at the Royal College of Music – Dr Katy Hamilton, Junior Research Fellow in Performance History at the Royal College of Music

Shaping the Genius: Influences and Evolution of Coleridge-Taylor’s Music – Richard Gordon-Smith, Composer, Conductor and Music Educator, and Hilary Burrage, Executive Chair of the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation

To Know Thy Self, Looking Beyond – Coleridge-Taylor from a Composer’s Perspective – Errollyn Wallen MBE, Composer


An Original Collective Laudation to the genius that was Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, with poets Malika Booker and Dorothea Smartt and ensemble Music Off Canvas – Introduced by Nkechi Ebite, The Books Project and Diana Roberts, Woodhouse Professional Development Centre Manager(RCM)


Insight on Coleridge-Taylor – Featuring the musicians, poets, speakers from the evening, with audience Q&A.

H Beard Print Collection, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Jointly organised with the Royal College of Music, The Books Project and the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation.  With special thanks to Black Cultural Archive and Historian Jeffrey Green.

£9, £6 concessions

Book on-line or call 020 7942 2211

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Tuesday 16 October

Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, 2nd Floor, Holborn Library, 32-38 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8P, 18.30 (door open, 6pm):

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: A Free Talk with Music

Presented by

Richard Gordon-Smith (composer) and

Martin Anthony Burrage (violin, piano)

of the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation, to mark the centenary of the composer’s death in the street of his birth.


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SCTF Patron Daniel Labonne Writes About Community Embedded Arts

Daniel LabonneDaniel Labonne, an SCTF Patron and founder of the original Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Society back in the 1990s, has published a book, Empowering The Performer, which draws on his experience of setting up an arts organisation in Africa. Here Daniel Labonne describes ‘Six Reality Checks Behind A Book’, explaining how he came to set up a regional centre for performing arts in southern Africa, and some quarter century thereafter his charity, FACE (The Foundation for Arts, Creativity and Exchange) and to write the book he has just published, Empowering The Performer.

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New Nonet Commissioned In Honour Of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

As we reach the centenary of the final birthday, on 15 August 1912, of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation and HOPES: The Hope Street Association are pleased to announce that recently they jointly commissioned a Nonet, with the same instrumentation as Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s own Nonet in F minor, op. 2* (1895), from the composer Richard Gordon-Smith.

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Memories of Hiawatha in the Royal Albert Hall

Two of our readers have recently very generously sent us material relating to the Hiawatha performances at the Royal Albert Hall in years around the 1930s.  We are grateful to George Parnell for this Programme of Hiawatha performances, and to Wendy Breese for sending us her recollections of time in the Royal Choral Society.

It would be interesting to learn if anyone knows the year of the Programme we have; and also to learn whether anyone recalls the performers named on it.  (You will note that amongst them is Chief Os-Ke-Non-Ton.)

Sir Malcom Sergent of course features in both these items of memorabilia.

Wendy Breese recalls her time In the Royal Choral Society:
My mother and grandmother were members of the Royal Choral Society and took part in costumed performances of Hiawatha at The Royal Albert Hall.

They used to tell my sister and me how they had to picnic in Kensington Gardens opposite as the facilities in the hall could not cope with the large numbers of singers. The told us how they ran down the steps to the arena in their squaw costumes, which my sister and I subsequently had in our dressing-up box in the 1940’s. (Sadly I don’t know what happened to them.)

When we were old enough my sister and I also joined the Royal Choral Society, and sang alongside our mother in the altos. Our grandmother had retired from the choir by then so we were never all four together.

We also made a 12″ LP recording of Hiawatha at Maida Vale studios, conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent.

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Tiki Black: Inspiration from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Tiki Black writes: I was born with fingers that suggested a predisposition for playing the piano. So when I saw and touched a piano for the first time, my heartstring got stuck and my eyes almost came out of their orbits. It is this handicap that made it impossible for me to understand the financial strings that prevented my mother from buying me a piano and enrolling me at the conservatoire.

I knew that this would affect the way I heard and understood music in general and classical music in particular. I also knew that my lazy nature and the remains of a grudge will never allow me to grasp the piano in the same way later on in my life as I would have had right there and then. For one, I was a child brought up to believe that as long as I performed well at school, I could have all that I wanted.

I went to school between France and Cameroon, encountering music as diverse as the musicians’ experience will allow them to report. One of my schools was the lycee Frederic Chopin where I grew interested in the music of the polish composer, all the more as I was enrolled in the corresponding boarding school which had… a piano! Under the encouragement of one of my best friend (nickname: La Thouille), and the instructions of a beginners’ lesson book entitled “la méthode rose” (that La Thouille has offered me), I started practising assiduously 2 hours a day, trying to learn as much as I could, under the threat of a new move to Cameroon or elsewhere in France where they would have forgetfully omitted to make a piano available.

Ambidextrian enough within a few months to read and play my favourite piano piece, the Etude n. 69 op 2 from Chopin, I judged (clearly without the more mature advice of a piano teacher) that I knew enough to do what I truly wanted to do, play the way I felt, understand music the way that my heartstring and eardrums interpreted them and that all school rules were both too late or too religious to allow me to expand to.

Tiki Black

Tiki Black

It is in this quest, that I started serial songwriting, moved to Britain and somewhere in the midst of all that, that I met with the works of Samuel Coleridge Taylor. You see, hearing of a Black classical composer was as rare in that period (for me at least) as finding a place with a piano readily available and tuned. It felt the same. He became my piano oasis, my hope that, although not a classical musician or a pianist myself, I could establish myself just where I wanted, as the person I wanted to be. Colour (and beyond, gender and education) should never have to matter where the heart is.

I was introduced to Coleridge Taylor via his song “Deep River” (which I endlessly link to on the homepage of one of my websites). It was classical music but it had a familiar depth. Noone could reach my emotions like Chopin but there was always that one set of feelings that was not expressed in Chopin’s works. And there, right in Samuel’s Deep river, it laid, as if having forever waited for me. I played it over and over and over again (and I still do) as if it were a lost feeling that had finally found its composition, its expression, because it just was. In fact, I reckon that half of its plays on youtube are just from me.

I must say it took me quite some time to buy anything else that he had created. Just the idea of him was great enough, encouraging enough for me. Then the specific interpretation of Deep River filled any other possible gaps. What if I did not like any of his other works?

We did not really have the same style, far from that. We did not have the same story. Really, we did not have anything in common that we had worked to achieve, except I was hoping, creating our own distinctive works in a style that was not associated with us, in spite of all the prejudice of sarcastical probability. But creativity makes up it own rules where rules fail to encourage creativity.

So here I am now, composing my own music, not classical or other, in fact without the boxes of genres, letting my creativity flow freely in and out of the deep river of my emotions.

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