by Anthony R. Green
While many composers throughout history have had children, precious few of those children become professional composers. While we have some examples from European composers such as Johann Strauss and his son Johann, Johann Sebastian Bach and a couple of his sons (ex. Carl Philipp Emanuel), Karlheinz Stockhausen and his son Markus, Hendrik Andriessen and his son Louis, and others, the numbers diminish when focusing on specifically Black composers. On this Father's Day, let's take a look at two Black composers whose had children who were composers!
The first composer examined today is Mzilikazi Khumalo! While he predominantly is known as a scholar and professor of African languages, his contributions as a composer cannot be ignored. His interests in linguistics has resulted in his repertoire including many vocal pieces using texts in various African languages. His most beloved work is his opera Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, the first opera in the Zulu language. Watch one of his 5 African Songs in an orchestration above! His son Andile Khumalo is a prominent, celebrated, highly experienced young, contemporary composer, whose music embraces many styles, and is rooted in avant-garde and experimental techniques. A music lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, Khumalo's music has been performed internationally, and recently championed by Ensemble Dal Niente. Check out their portrait concert below!
The next two composers are quite special. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is no stranger to Castle of our Skins, and one of the better known Black composers of history, especially given the popularity of his Hiawatha's Wedding Feast (which was, at one point in history, more frequently programmed and performed than Händel's Messiah ). Castle of our Skins recently performed his Clarinet Quintet in a collaboration with Windsor Music, which you can find below!
Avril Coleridge-Taylor, one of Samuel's children, was an accomplished composer and pianist. Controversially, her conservative views - most likely attributed to her ability to pass as white - included an indifference towards apartheid practices in South Africa. While serving as a researcher there, her quarter-African heritage (through Samuel's father) was discovered, and she was banned from professionally working there, which changed her opinion about apartheid quickly. In her life, she composed the Ceremonial March to celebrate Ghana's independence, as well as chamber music, solo piano music, and a piano concerto. At the moment, none of her music is available on YouTube. I found a snippet of her Nocturne for piano, played that snippet, and uploaded it for all of you BIBA fans. Enjoy the video below, and Happy Father's Day!
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