Avril Coleridge-Taylor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Gwendolen Avril Coleridge-Taylor
Avril Coleridge-Taylor
Avril Coleridge-Taylor
BornGwendolen Avril Coleridge-Taylor
(1903-03-08)8 March 1903
South Norwood, London
Died(1998-12-21)December 21, 1998
Seaford, East Sussex
EducationTrinity College of Music

Gwendolen Avril Coleridge-Taylor (8 March 1903 – 21 December 1998) was an English pianist, conductor, and composer. She was the daughter of composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and his wife Jessie (née Walmisley).


She was born in South Norwood, London, the daughter of composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and his wife Jessie Walmisley. They had met as students at the Royal College of Music. She had an older brother Hiawatha. Gwendolyn wrote her first composition, Goodbye Butterfly, at the age of twelve. Later, she won a scholarship for composition and piano at Trinity College of Music in 1915, where she was taught by Gordon Jacob and Alec Rowley.[1]

In 1933, Coleridge-Taylor made her debut as a conductor at the Royal Albert Hall. She was the first female conductor of H.M.S. Royal Marines and a frequent guest conductor of the BBC Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. She was the founder and conductor of both the Coleridge-Taylor Symphony Orchestra and its accompanying musical society in the 1940s, as well as the Malcolm Sargent Symphony Orchestra. Her compositions include large-scale orchestral works, as well as songs, keyboard, and chamber music.

In 1957, Coleridge-Taylor wrote the Ceremonial March to celebrate Ghana's independence.[2] Her other well-regarded works include a Piano Concerto in F minor (Sussex Landscape, The Hills, To April, In Memoriam R.A.F.), Wyndore (Windover) for choir and orchestra, and Golden Wedding Ballet Suite for orchestra.

She dropped her first name after a divorce, thereafter going by Avril professionally. She had a tour of South Africa in 1952, during the period of apartheid.[3] Originally she was supportive of, or neutral to the racial segregation; she was taken as white as she was at least three-quarters white in ancestry.[4] When the government learned that she was one-quarter black (her paternal grandfather was a Creole from Sierra Leone), it would not allow her to work as a composer or conductor.[5]

She also published compositions under the pseudonym Peter Riley.[6]

Works with opus number[edit]

Chamber music[edit]

  • Idylle for flute and piano, Op. 21
  • Impromptu for flute and piano, Op. 33
  • A Lament for flute and piano, Op. 31

Keyboard music[edit]

  • Impromptu, Op. 9
  • Rhapsody for piano, Op. 174

Orchestral music[edit]

  • Sussex Landscape, Op. 27


  • Goodbye Butterfly, Op. 1
  • Mister Sun, Op. 2
  • Silver Stars, Op. 3
  • Who Knows?, Op. 4
  • April, Op. 5
  • The Dreaming Water Lily, Op. 6
  • The Rustling Grass, Op. 7
  • The Entranced Hour, Op. 8
  • Song, Op. 29
  • Nightfall, Op. 43
  • Apple Blossom, Op. 44
  • Sleeping and Waking, Op. 45[7]


  • Cohen, Aaron, International Encyclopedia of Women Composers, New York: Hamish Books & Music, 1981.
  • Hixon, Donald, Women in Music: An Encyclopedic Biobibliography, Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow P, 1993.
  • Sadie, Julie Ann, & Samuel, Rhian, The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers, New York: Macmillan, 1995.
  • Sadie, Stanley, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, New York: Macmillan, 2001.


  1. ^ Sadie, Julie Anne and Rhian Samuel. Eds. The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers. Macmillan: New York, 1995.
  2. ^ "Avril Coleridge-Taylor", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; retrieved 26 Jan 2015
  3. ^ Charles Kay, "The Marriage of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Jessie Walmisley", Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (Autumn, 2001), pp. 159-178; via JSTOR
  4. ^ "Daughter of Famous Composer Gives OK to S. African Bias", Jet Magazine, 1 December 1955
  5. ^ Bill Greenwell, "Coleridge Taylor", Lost Lives Archived 2014-09-25 at the Wayback Machine., personal website
  6. ^ Avril Coleridge-Taylor, The Heritage of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, London: Dobson, 1979 (e.g., p. 154)
  7. ^ Coleridge-Taylor (1979), The Heritage of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, pp. 154-6.

Further reading[edit]

  • Coleridge-Taylor, Avril. (1979) The Heritage of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor . London: Dobson P.

External links[edit]

  • www.blackmahler.com for Coleridge-Taylor and the most recent book about him. His daughter Avril is also featured in the book: Elford, Charles, Black Mahler: The Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Story, London, England: Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd, 2008. ISBN 978-1-906210-78-6
  • "Daughter of Famous Composer Gives OK to S. African Bias", Jet Magazine, 1 December 1955.