Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was an English composer and conductor who grew up in Surrey in the South East of England. Coleridge-Taylor was mixed-race, with his mother being English and his father hailing from Sierra Leone. He was raised by his mother and her family, and his musical talents were spotted at an early age. He studied composition at the Royal College of Music from the age of fifteen, and later became Professor of Music at the now-defunct Crystal Palace School of Music.
Coleridge-Taylor’s music, even in his early years, was critically acclaimed and admired by the most influential composers of the time like Edward Elgar and Charles Villiers Stanford. Due to his rising popularity, Coleridge-Taylor went on three tours of the USA and was received by President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House—an honour not bestowed on many from a mixed-race background at the time. Whilst on tour, he established connections with prominent African-American artists and intellectuals, such as Paul Laurence Dunbar, whose poems he later set to music. Coleridge-Taylor was proud of his African heritage, and aimed to bring elements of African music together with the European styles he had grown up with.
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