Conductor Alwyn unveils blue plaque to Croydon composer

Properly commemorated: the blue plaque on the Waddon house where Samuel Coleridge-Taylor lived

Properly commemorated: the blue plaque on the Waddon house where Samuel Coleridge-Taylor lived

A year-long festival to commemorate Samuel Coleridge-Taylor ended on Sunday with the unveiling of a blue plaque at 6 St Leonards Road, the house where he died on September 1 1912.

Those attending the ceremony included members of the Dashwood and Coleridge-Taylor families, descendents of composer living in England. Stephen Harrow, the festival committee chairman, Jonathan Butcher, the festival’s artistic director, made speeches to a good-sized crowd which included Tony Harris, Croydon’s deputy mayor.

There to unveil the plaque was Kenneth Alwyn, the conductor who has had an illustrious career conducting the Royal Ballet during the time of Fonteyn and Nureyev, winning a Gramophone award for best film music, and a gold disc for a Decca stereo recording. This year, Decca Eloquence will release Alwyn’s recordings of music by Grieg, Rossini and Tchaikovsky.

Alwyn spoke of this long connection with the composer’s music, the 1975 birthday anniversary events and his conducting and recordings of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast and the complete Song of Hiawatha (on Decca CD).

After the unveiling it was on to the Old Town Youth Club for a lunch reception, more talks and a performance SC-T Songs of Sun and Shade sung by Jonathan Butcher. Will Hutchinson, who accompanied Butcher, also played some of SC-T’s piano music. Jeff Green, the composer’s most recent biographer, gave his thoughts as to what kind of music C-T might have written had he lived longer into the 20th Century. Former Royal College of Music Professor, Oliver Davies, talked about his personal role in building up the RCM Coleridge-Taylor archive, and his friendship with the composer’s son Hiawatha and daughter Avril.

Final words of thanks and appreciation for the year’s events came from Stephen Harrow and Georgia Jenkins (nee Coleridge-Taylor).

Although the centenary year is over, the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Network will continue to promote knowledge about the composer. He will be included in activities to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of his Black British friend John Archer, who was elected as Mayor of Battersea in November 1913.

Details about the SC-T network can be seen here.

  • Details of the composer’s life can be read in Jeff Green’s Coleridge-Taylor. A Centenary Celebration (History & Social Action Publications. 2012. £4 + 50p p&p from
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