Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was born in London in 1875, the illegitimate son of a Sierra Leone doctor (who returned to Africa) and an English mother, who later married. He was thus a black child of a white family, living in a lower middle class neighborhood. He studied violin while young and, quickly picked out as a talented child, was promoted by a local benefactor. At 15 he was acceped by the Royal College of Music and was composing at the age of 16.
Throughout his brief career (he died in 1912) he composed orchestral works such as Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, an early performance of which was met with a standing ovation. He also developed a career as a conductor, and made three trips to the U.S. where he was described as "the Black Mahler" and considered a leader for African American composers
The only works on this CD which reflect ethnic identity are the Four African Dances. For the most part, the selections are part of the salon tradition popular at the time...which is in no way meant as a criticism. The music here is engaging, romantic, a joy to listen to. My particular favorite is the compelling Sonata in D minor which, surprisingly, was not successful in his own time. It is richly and perfectly recreated here by Juritz and Dussek.