• Simon Rushby

Ballade for Orchestra by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Updated: Feb 5

#listeneveryday 4 Feb 2021

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (named after, but not to be confused with, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge) was an English composer who lived around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Born in London in 1875, his father was a medical student from Sierra Leone and his mother was English. His father returned to West Africa before his birth, and his mother later married a railworker and lived with him and Samuel in Croydon.


Samuel's musical education was encouraged and from the age of 15 he studied at the Royal College of Music, where he was taught composition by Stanford. He married a fellow student and had two children who also went on to have musical careers. Sadly, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor died at the age of 37, from pneumonia.

This orchestral Ballade was written for the Three Choirs Festival and premiered there, following endorsements and encouragement from Elgar. He sold the rights to his most famous work, Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, to a publisher when he was very young, which meant that he did not benefit financially when the work became popular. This case, amongst others, led to the formation of the Performing Rights Society which to this day ensures that composers are properly paid for their work.


More to listen to


Coleridge-Taylor's most famous work was his cantata Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, which has received many performances from choral groups in the UK especially. Here is the overture.





This short documentary about Coleridge-Taylor includes words from his daughter, Avril, who tells of his invitation from Elgar to write for the Three Choirs Festival.


A new #listeneveryday post is published every weekday! Comment below or tweet @SimonRushby with your suggestions for future music.

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