Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was a black British composer who catapulted to fame with his 1898 oratorio Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. W. E. B. DuBois (who celebrated Coleridge-Taylor in his musical pageant “The Star of Ethiopia”) wrote:
“Fortunate was Coleridge-Taylor to be born in Europe and to speak a universal tongue. In America, he could hardly have had his career. He was one with that great company of mixed-blooded men: Pushkin and Dumas . . . and Douglass.”
In DC, where he conducted at the Metropolitan AME Church, Coleridge-Taylor was the toast of the African-American community – and avidly absorbed the music of black America. In collaboration with Harry Burleigh and others once associated with Dvorak, he played a dynamic role adapting spirituals for the concert hall.