The music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) : a critical and analytical study
Discussions of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and his music have, to date, focused predominantly, indeed primarily on his choral work, Hiawatha, and on the black cultural elements of his work. Whilst not ignoring the African aspect of his writing or personality, this thesis uniquely argues a different approach to the man and his music in that it seeks to fill the lacuna by examining the significance of his worth as a composer through the musical substance itself, aside from external features. In consequence, the essence of this study is concerned with questions of structure, tonality, style, influences, musical reception and context within the larger framework of contemporary Britain and its so-called 'musical renaissance'. The main thrust of the thesis focuses on those substantial works in ColeridgeTaylor's output where these elements of craftsmanship are most conspicuous, and in order to best facilitate this, each separate chapter within the main corpus of the thesis (Chapters 2 - 6) discusses a different genre of Coleridge-Taylor's music – namely chamber music, large-scale choral music and orchestral music - where selected works are examined. The exception to this is the opening chapter, a biographical sketch that outlines the main points of reference and contextualizes the composer's works, and the concluding chapter, which discusses two of his final works in different genres – a cantata, A Tale of Old Japan, and the recently revived Violin Concerto. In addition, the study draws attention to other neglected works, most significantly, ColeridgeTaylor's 'missing' opera that was unearthed as a result of this research. The opera is central to this reassessment of Coleridge-Taylor, and the thesis presents, for the first time, a critical examination of the work through a thorough investigation of the discovered manuscripts. A fully indexed source catalogue comprising details of all of Coleridge-Taylor's music forms an extensive and important appendix.