Coleridge-Taylor: Music Breaks Barriers

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor


Coleridge-Taylor was a successful composer whose talent has been said to be remarkable. He achieved so much success he was called the African Mahler*. Despite leaving a legacy, he’s music has not traveled into the modern ages, and it is not so greatly praised today.


[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor in 1905]

Coleridge-Taylor was born in 1875 in Holborn, London, to Alice Hare Martin, an English woman. He’s father was Sierra Leonean and returned to Africa without the knowledge of having a son. Martin brought up Tayor in Croydon with the help of her father, Benjamin Holmans. Taylor was surrounded by music growing up, his uncle was a professional musician and Taylor studied the Violin at the Royal College of Music. He also taught music as a professor at the Crystal Palace School of Music; and conducted the orchestra at the Croydon Conservatoire.

In 1899 Taylor married Jessie Walmisley, they met as students. Her parents objected since Taylor was mixed races and they were English. They went on the have a family (as shown in the cute image below),  a son, Hiawatha and a daughter, Avril who followed her parents musical steps and became a conductor.


[Coleridge-Taylor_family_card. Taken from Wikipedia]

Over the years he built he’s name in the industry, and also traveled to America where he was positively receives. He did face some intense racism, but he did not let the colour of his skin stop him from being the best he could be, this is one of the reasons he’s name Is still remembered. At the age of 25 he became a founder-supporter in 1900 of the new London-based Pan-African Conference and was a supporter of the Pan African Movement.




  • Is the creator of the Song of Hiawatha trilogy, was performed annually at the Royal Albert Hall and many other concert venues around Britain in the 1920s, 1930s and beyond.
  • After his death in 1912, the fact that he and his family received no royalties from what was one of the most successful and popular works written partly led to the formation of the Performing Rights Society.





After Gustav Mahler, 1860-1911, a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation.

[Images taken from Wikipedia]

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