Harry Burleigh – From The Southland

Image from Ol’ Man Wik

There was once a wave of nationalism that swept thru classical song within the past due 19th and early 20th centuries.  These compositions used “commonplace” subject matters and folks song as the foundation of significant live performance corridor orchestral song.  We’ve observed a lot of this right here, with Edvard Grieg, Jean Sibelius, Percy Granger, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and (after all) Aaron Copeland.  Another American was once fairly well-known in his day, and in reality a pioneer who helped open doorways for black classical song performers like Marian Anderson.  He broke down doorways, and it is a disgrace that we by no means listen his song anymore, as it is fairly excellent and his tale is attention-grabbing.

He was once born in 1866 right into a society present process giant, giant adjustments.  Despite the endemic racism of the day, his making a song skill opened doorways as he was once lovely temporarily identified because the greatest baritone in his local Erie, PA.  This resulted in a lot of soloist jobs, and his good fortune there led him to New York City and the National Conservatory of Music the place he studied.  He supported himself as a handyman on the Conservatory, the place he sang spirituals within the hallways whilst running.  This introduced him to the eye of the Conservatory’s Director, none instead of Antonín Dvořák (who – unbelievably as it’ll sound – hasn’t ever been featured right here on Sunday Classical).  Dvořák knew everyone who was once any one within the song international, and now not handiest incorporated one of the black non secular melodies in his New World symphony, however was once most likely instrumental in getting Burleigh a role educating on the Conservatory.

He was once thought to be for the location of soloist at St. George’s Episcopal Church however the congregation balked at hiring a black guy (the church was once segregated on the time).  It was once J. P. Morgan himself who solid the deciding vote to rent Burleigh, who held the location for 52 years.  His annual Palm Sunday efficiency of Fauré’s “The Palms” was once a 50 yr custom in New York, and Mayor LaGuardia had him broadcast it from the Mayor’s place of work in 1944.

Along the way in which he composed fairly a large number of excellent song.  This is a brilliant instance, with conventional subject matters (you really well would possibly acknowledge some) carried out in a classical structure.  The song begins most likely nine and a part mins into the video, however there is a truthful quantity of background on Burleigh there.

Happy birthday, Harry Burleigh!