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 Harry Thacker Burleigh

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Harry Thacker Burleigh

Birth
Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 12 Sep 1949 (aged 82)
Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
Burial Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Section 4, Lot 129, Grave 111
Memorial ID 12072 View Source

Composer. Vocalist. Born the son of Elizabeth Waters and Henry Burleigh in Erie, Pennsylvania, he showed an early talent for music, learning traditional spirituals from his family and singing in local church choirs. By 1892, he was able to attend New York's National Conservatory of Music on a scholarship. There, he became friends with the director, Antonín Dvorák, and served as his copyist. The two men would demonstrably influence each other's careers. In 1894, he auditioned for the position of soloist at St. George's Episcopal Church in New York City. Despite some initial opposition, he was appointed, and held the position for over fifty years, missing only one performance during his tenure and was the choir's first black chorister. In 1898, G. Schirmer published his first three songs, and in 1900, he was chosen as soloist at Temple Emanu-El. During a 1908 trip abroad, it was arranged that a performance for King Edward VII and the Crown Princess of Sweden be presented in London. In 1911, he earned a position as an editor for music publisher G. Ricordi. Several of his compositions, including "Saracen Songs" (1914), "Ethiopia Saluting the Colors" (1915), "Five Songs of Laurence Hope" (1915) - considered by many to be his finest work, "Jubilee Songs of the USA" (1916), his arrangement of "Deep River" (1917), "Under a Blazing Star" (1918), and "In the Great Somewhere" (1919) were among those published. He also dedicated himself to the preservation of traditional spirituals; his arrangements for these was credited with making what had been an insulated art form accessible to others for the first time. Over his career, he composed more than 300 pieces, and in 1917 he was awarded the Spingarn Achievement Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for excellence in the field of creative music. He received an honorary master's degree from Atlanta University and an honorary Doctor of Music from Howard University. In 1929, he published a collection of spirituals, "Old Songs Hymnal." In 1939, he was chosen to serve on the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers' (ASCAP) board of directors. Upon his death at 82, more than 2,000 mourners attended his funeral. In 2017 the Harry T. Burleigh society was formed for the study and performance of his body of work.

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 30 Aug 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 12072
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12072/harry-thacker-burleigh : accessed ), memorial page for Harry Thacker Burleigh (2 Dec 1866–12 Sep 1949), Find a Grave Memorial ID 12072, citing Erie Cemetery, Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .