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Black Mahler the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Story Paperback – 2 Apr 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing Limited (2 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906210780
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906210786
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 609,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Author

A slightly revised edition of Black Mahler will be published on 6th January 2012 to mark the 100th anniversary of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's tragically premature death in 1912.

Place an advanced order for your copy on 31st December 2011


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kirsty Hewitt on 10 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
Review by freelance writer and reviewer Kirsty Hewitt

Black Mahler tells the story of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a London-born mixed-race composer of the Victorian era. It is based on the events of his life, from growing up in relative poverty, to graduating from a prestigious music school, to finally achieving fame.

The novel is told from a third person omniscient perspective, which allows it to follow many different characters whose lives collide. Along with Coleridge-Taylor himself, many other feature throughout the novel. Amongst others, there are Coleridge-Taylor's old music teacher Mr Beckwith, his mentor Colonel Watkins, his proud mother and many eccentric lecturers. Black Mahler begins with the character of Avril who is preparing for her part in a posthumous performance of the composer's Song of Hiawatha, based upon one of his favourite Longfellow poems. Avril herself, though seemingly just a member of the choir at first, soon becomes all the more important as events unfold.

The novel follows Coleridge-Taylor through his formative years to his untimely death, outlining the choices he made and the way in which he lived his life. The novel shows a broad sweep of Coleridge-Taylor's work and describes his pieces as well as his inspiration for them.

The title of the novel derives from Gustav Mahler, who was revered by Americans. They consequently dubbed mixed-race Coleridge-Taylor as `Black Mahler' to show how much they respected him and his work.

The highly personalised foreword tells of the author living close to where Coleridge-Taylor was raised in Croydon, London, and coming across him by chance in a newspaper article. It contains a couple of lovely stories of how Coleridge-Taylor has inadvertently brought people together.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Thomas on 11 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this life story of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, the composer, most famous for his choral work, Hiawatha. Charles Elford has penned a rich and sensitively told story of this mixed race composer who spent most of his life in the London borough of Croydon, not far from where I live, so there was an added local interest and I could easily recall some of the streets and other local places mentioned in the text.
Coleridge-Taylor cuts a tragic figure as he struggles to make enough to keep his family, having been grossly exploited by Novello over the rights of the Hiawatha score. He eventually works himself into an early grave. Elford successfully shows Coleridge-Taylor to be a thoroughly likeable and modest individual. He is gifted with two wonderful children by an indifferent and at times cruel and needlessly jealous wife. The book is written as a biographical novel and in this it truly works. I was gripped by the story and will not forget this great man who in such a brief existence gave so much to so many for so little.
If you are interested in another story of an almost forgotten composer, Juan Hidalgo (1614-1685) who wrote the music for the first two Spanish operas, you may just like to read my novel The Harpist of Madrid
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Philip S. Taylor on 7 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Charles Elford's book is a timely and welcome tribute to the English Composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Coleridge is a little-known name today, but in the late-Victorian and Edwardian period he was immensely popular and highly regarded in this country and America. At the Royal College of Music he was a pupil of Stanford and a contemporary of William Hurlstone and Vaughan Williams, among others.

Coleridge died at the age of 37, having suffered for most of his life from ill-health, relative poverty and less than honest dealings with his publishers.

Charles Elford has set out to bring Coleridge to life by dramatising the facts that he has unearthed. In the Bibliography he lists what I assume to be his major sources and has no doubt added a little poetic licence. The result is very definitely not a dry academic tome, but - quite literally - a real page turner. My wife and I both read the 346 pages quickly and with a real sense of anticipation; we wanted to know what happened next.

Coleridge's life deserved a passionate and readable account by someone who understood him and sympathised with him. Charles Elford's excellent book meets this need admirably. Our only very small critical comment is that we would have liked to see a chronoligical list of compositions and a current discography.

Philip and Susan Taylor

Jonathan Dewhurst: The Lancashire Tragedian 1837 - 1913Black Mahler the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Story
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. B. Twisselmann on 23 April 2008
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This is truly wonderful - it's such a witty and moving novel, full of colour and light and interesting characters and events, that a reader could forget that this is actually all based on historical fact. Amazing also that the book's subject - Samuel Coleridge Taylor - is not rather more famous than he currently appears to be. Charles Elford has given us a vignette of the past that resonates with the present through the power of its compassion and its wonderfully conceived characters and relationships. A must-read!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Julian on 5 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
Who would have thought of anything exciting coming out of Croydon at the turn of the 20th century? It's a great story of a genius shining amongst his contemporaries despite being given a bad hand to play. His music was eagerly anticipated and applauded across the World, yet nowadays his name is almost unknown in his native land. Let's hope Charlie Elford's celebratory book helps rekindle interest in this man and his work. Meanwhile buy it for a good read!
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