Samuel Colderidge-Taylor (Aug. 15, 1875 - Sept. 1, 1912) was born in London, England, to Alice Hare Martin, an English woman, and Dr. Daniel Peter Hughes Taylor, from Sierre Leone. They were not married, and Daniel Taylor returned to Africa before 1875, not even knowing he had a son. Martin named her son after the poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and was raised in Croydon, Surrey by his mother, and her father. Coleridge-Taylor studied violin at the Royal College of Music, and was later on appointed a professor at the Crystal Palace School of Music, and conducted the orchestra at the Croyden Conservatory.  Coleridge-Taylor found success at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester and Worcester; he was recommended by Edward Elgar, who heard rave reviews about Coleridge-Taylor from noted music critic and editor August Jaeger. He had much success during his time, and his interest in African-American culture brought him to the States on several occasions where his success continued. He made such an impression that he was invited to the White House by Theodore Roosevelt. 

Coleridge-Taylor wrote for various genres; he wrote symphonies, violin sonatas, and all manner of chamber works. His Ballade Op. 73 was composed in 1907, and was originally for violin and orchestra, but was then pared down for violin and piano. Coleridge-Taylor did this so he could more easily take the work on tour with the violinist for whom it was written, Mikhail Zacherevich.

This work begins somberly and with a deep sense of melancholy. After the somber entrance, the violin continues with its hauntingly sad, and lyrical line while the piano underneath in contrast has a staccato choppy line, making for an interesting aural juxtaposition. That section is brief before the work moves on, and the violin goes on to have some soaring lines after a few intricate sixteenth note runs. Throughout the work there is a feel of lamenting, whether it's during the long melodic lines, or even in the sections that modulate to a major key, though that changes at the end where there is a turn of mood, and the violin makes an energetic run to the end.

Here's a recording of this work for you to enjoy!

Nokuthula Ngwenyama