Born: August 15, 1875 – Holborn, London, England
Died: September 1, 1912 – Croydon, Sussex, England
A few facts about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
- Coleridge-Taylor’s English mother and Krio* father never married, in fact Daniel Taylor had returned to his home in Sierra Leone unaware that Alice Martin was pregnant. Coleridge-Taylor was raised in Croydon by an extended family who nurtured and financed his musical studies.
- Because he was of mixed-race the Royal College of Music hesitated to admit him, fearing that other students would object. Finally in 1890 they admitted him at the age of 15 as a violin student. Two years later he changed to composition.
- Edward Elgar was the young composer’s mentor and brought him to the attention of August Jaeger. Jaeger, an influential music editor, and critic guided him and on more than one occasion referred to him as a “genius”.
- During a tour of the United States, he became interested in African music and was a pioneer in integrating music of the African diaspora into his compositions. Amongst those works are Four African Dances, Concert Overture, Toussaint L’Ouverture, and Symphonic Variations on an African Air.
- He died at the age of 37 from pneumonia. King George V granted his widow an annual pension.
*The Krio people of Sierra Leone are partly descended from former enslaved Africans who fought for the British in the American War of Independence, in exchange for promises of freedom. After the American victory in 1783, they fled with the British to the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, from where they were sent back to Africa, and the British colony of Sierra Leone. This had been founded for freed slaves, even before the slave trade was abolished in 1807.