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Introduction and Extract of Chapter 1 the Early Years From Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a Musical Life

Introduction and Extract of Chapter 1 the Early Years From Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a Musical Life

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Published by: Pickering and Chatto on Jun 09, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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– 1 –
Samuel Coleridge-aylor created music that gave a great deal o pleasure to mil-lions. Aer I read the 1915 biography and then traced his Arican doctor atherin the
 Medical Register 
I suspected there was a diferent story to that told inthe biography and entries in encyclopedias. Searching contemporary reports Inoticed commentators took diferent views o the same music, and it becameclear that their views had been afected by the music’s emotional impact. A cen-tury later websites and other comments seem to take views that are emotionalrather than actual.Te Arican genes rom his ather clearly visible, Coleridge-aylor was blackin a white society. His widow recalled that in his nal hours he said that he was worried that he would be described as a Creole – meaning a person o bothArican and European descent. His obituaries certainly mentioned his Aricanheritage but also detailed his creations or the theatre and or choral groups, hissuccesses at music estivals as a judge and composer, his humanity and his skillsas a conductor. His death at thirty-seven was seen as a tragedy or British musi-cal lie.I quote rom many reviews because I want to show his widespread ame,and to rescue those opinions rom now-yellowing newspapers printed over ahundred years ago. Some reveal contradictions. Tere are contradictions in hisrelationship with his publishers, the nancial legacy o his widow and the com- plexities in the lives o his English mother and Arican ather. Lives seldom runin straight lines; his did not. Working on this project increased my respect or Coleridge-aylor who wasraised next to the railway and down wind o a slaughterhouse and yet createdmusic that still gives pleasure to numerous people a century aer his death.
– 3 –
Te gentle slope o Bandon Hill cemetery beyond the war memorial has theappearance o a stunted orest o stone angels, slabs and crosses as you approachthe grave o Samuel Coleridge-aylor. Its musical notation and poetry is ornateby the standards o neighbouring graves. Te next row has a simpler memorialcommemorating Emma and Walter Walmisley and their third daughter Louisa.Te graves are linked as Louisa’s sister Jessie was the wie o Coleridge-aylor.In tracing the early lie o Samuel Coleridge-aylor it has been necessary to ndother hidden connections.Tis suburban south London cemetery where the composer’s body wasinterred in September 1912 is ar rom the Circular Road cemetery in Freetown,Sierra Leone, where his grandparents’ sepulchre stands near the entrance. In1869 Sally and John aylor’s youngest son made the long journey rom SierraLeone where the Atlantic coast o Arica begins its east-west axis. Daniel PeterHughes aylor’s son was born in London in the summer o 1875.Coleridge-aylor’s ather was a sel-motivated migrant seeking an educationand proessional qualications who would have ound that the British regardedArica as a continent o mysteries. Lands bordering the Mediterranean wereknown through the Bible. Older people knew o the Barbary pirates; and also within living memory were the exploits o the French Foreign Legion and theconquest o Algeria. Te opening o the Suez Canal shortened the sea route toIndia and the Orient rom 1869, but at that time, when Daniel aylor arrived inEngland, tropical Arica was largely a blank in the minds o Europeans.Henry Stanley’s ‘discovery’ o David Livingstone in 1871 and the Londonuneral o the hero in 1874 inspired others to seek great rivers, black kingdomsand snow-capped mountains on the equator. Te ‘Scramble or Arica’ ollowedand maps o Arica began to be delineated with names o the travellers, theirriends and sponsors, and showed the claims o Europeans. Daniel aylor’s songrew into manhood as Britain played this imperial game, usually in conict withFrance and always with Aricans.Daniel aylor’s homeland was one o the oldest regions within Britain’sArican empire. His people, the Krio or Creole, had ormed through decades o 

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