Voted among 100 Great Black Britons, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a composer and conductor whose choral trilogy Hiawatha was popular through to the 1940s. This display marks the centenary of his premature death at 37.
Born to a white British mother and a father from Sierra Leone, he grew up in Croydon. At the Royal College of Music, his contemporaries included Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams. His first major commission was from the Three Choirs Festival. His extensive output ranges from late-Romantic orchestral pieces to suites inspired by African and Gospel music, from recital songs to an opera based on Norse legend.
The display documents Coleridge-Taylor’s increasing fame, with an early publicity photo complete with facsimile signature, inclusion in a group image of fellow-composers (including Elgar and Ethel Smyth) and posthumous renown on a cigarette card. An intriguing oil study painted when he was a child is complemented by a stunning portrait by E.O Hoppé.