Ayo Bankole

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Bankole in 1960

Ayo Bankole (b. Lagos, May 17, 1935; d. Lagos, November 6, 1976[1]) was a composer and organist from the Yoruba ethnic group in southwest Nigeria. He was born into a musical family: his father, Theophilus Abiodun Bankole was an organist and Choirmaster at St. Luke's Anglican Church in Jos. His mother was a music instructor for several years at Queen's School, Ede, Osun State, a Federal government high school.

As a young man Ayo Bankole studied in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he met the young drama student and poet Brian Edward Hurst. Ayo set one of Hurst's poems to music and this was performed as a choral composition at the Guildhall School in 1960. The poem was titled "Children of the Sun." Hurst also took a photograph of the Nigerian composer standing outside the Guildhall School. Ayo also studied at Clare College, Cambridge, but eventually returned to Lagos, Nigeria where he was murdered by a half-brother in 1976. A kind and humanitarian man he is much missed by the Nigerian musical community.

He wrote a great deal of Christian liturgical music, and his compositions show elements of both traditional Nigerian music and Western classical music.

He also compose theme songs for some Nigerian television drama series.


  1. ^ Schmidt, Cynthia. "Bankole, Ayo." in International Dictionary of Black Composers. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn. pp. 75-80. ISBN 1884964273
  • Euba, Akin. "Ayo Bankole: A View of Modern African Art Music Through the Works of a Nigerian Composer." In Essays on music in Africa, no. 1 (1988), pp. 87–117. Bayreuth: IWALEWA-Haus.
  • Horne, Aaron. Keyboard Music of Black Composers: A Bibliography.
  • Omojola, Olabode F. (1994). "Contemporary Art Music in Nigeria: An Introductory Note on the Works of Ayo Bankole." Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, v. 64, no. 4 (1994), pp. 533–543.
  • Sadoh, Godwin (2007). Intercultural Dimensions in Ayo Bankole's Music. iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-46436-X. ISBN 978-0-595-46436-4.