2 Flutes, Oboe, 2 Clarinets in Bb, 2 Bassoons
2 Horns in F, 2 Trumpets in Bb, 3 Trombones, Timpani, Percussion (3 players: Tubular bells, Glockenspiel, Side Drum, Triangle, Cymbals, Bass Drum), Harp
Strings (Violin I, VIolin II, VIola, Cello, Bass)
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was born in London, the son of a West African father and English mother. Early in his life, his father, a doctor, unable to make a success in Britain, returned to Sierra Leone. The boy showed talent on the violin from the age of five, and by 1890, with generous backing from a Presbyterian choirmaster, entered the Royal College of Music, studying with Charles VIlliers Stanford. Elgar called him "far and away the cleverest fellow going among the younger men". The Hiawatha trilogy made his name and performances were so plentiful that with Mendelssohn's Elijah it held second place only to Messiah in the hearts of choral societies the length of the country. He died in Croydon at the age of only 37 before his full potential as a composer could be fulfilled. His Christmas Overture appeared posthumously in 1925, arranged by Sydney Baynes, of Destiny Waltz fame; it features God rest you merry, gentlemen, and Hark the herald angels sing and is thought to have been put together from incidental music he wrote for a children's play called The Forest of Wild Thyme.