Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Posted by Unknown Friday, June 8, 2012

I had the honor of being the commencement speaker for the 2012 Class of The Historic Samuel Coleridge Taylor Elementary School today.

The school is name for Samuel Coleridge Taylor. "Samuel Coleridge Taylor was born on August 15, 1875 in Holborn, England ( a suburb of London). His father, Daniel Hughes Taylor, was a native of Sierra Leone, and his mother was English. Daniel Taylor came to England to study medicine.

As a child Coleridge-Taylor studied violin and sang in the choir of St. George's Church, Croydon. At the age of fifteen he as admitted by Sir George Grove to the Royal College of Music as a violin student. While at the Royal College his interest in composition grew.

Some of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's greatest works date from these early years. His most famous work is perhaps the trilogy based upon the poems of the Cambridge, Massachusetts native, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

In the United States Coleridge-Taylor's music and work inspired the establishment of the Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society. This was a choral society in Washington, DC composed of some 200 African American singers for the purpose of performing Coleridge'Taylor's works. This society sponsored Samuel Coleridge Taylor's first visit to the United States where he conducted them in a concert at Constitution Hall.

The impact of his work and his person is further witnessed by his association with both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. An introduction to Coleridge-Taylor's Twenty-four Negro Melodies was written by Booker T. Washington. His admiration and respect for Coleridge Taylor's work is a reflection of the pride and admiration felt by many African-Americans.

The great esteem by which Coleridge-Taylor's life and work was held by African Americans is evidenced even today by two American schools bearing his name: in Louisville, Kentucky, The Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School (established in 1911 as a school for 'colored' children and named for the composer in 1913), and in Baltimore, Maryland, The Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School (Public School No. 122) established in 1926 as the first elementary school built for 'colored' children in Baltimore."


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