Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was born in London in 1875, the son of a Sierra Leonean doctor and and English mother. Apparently feeling that his career as a surgeon was blocked because he was black, his father returned to Africa, abandoning Samuel and his mother in England. At the age of fifteen, Coleridge Taylor entered the Royal College of Music to study the violin and he also studied composition with Stanford.
His best known work, which was immensely popular during his lifetime, is “Hiawatha”, a trilogy based upon poems by Longfellow. He also wrote other works, such as the songs “African Romances”, the “African Suite” for piano, and “Five Choral Ballads”, a setting of poems on slavery by Longfellow, which include influences from native African music.
He visited America several times, in 1904, 1906, and 1910, where he was lionised as a role model for black composers. and was even received by President Roosevelt.
He died in Croydon, in 1912.