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Harry Burleigh Program Notes and Sheet Music

Harry Thacker Burleigh (December 2, 1866 – September 12, 1949) was an American composer, arranger, and singer. He was one of the first African-American composers to achieve national and international recognition. Burleigh was a baritone and a prolific arranger of spirituals. He also composed art songs, choral music, and instrumental pieces.

Burleigh was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He began his musical training at an early age and studied voice with George F. Brierly. In 1892, he moved to New York City to study at the National Conservatory of Music. While at the conservatory, he met Dvo?ák, who encouraged him to study and arrange African-American folk music.

After graduating from the conservatory, Burleigh began a successful career as a singer and arranger. He toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe, performing his own arrangements of spirituals and other African-American folk music. He also worked as a music editor for G. Ricordi, a music publishing company.

Burleigh was a prolific composer and wrote over 200 songs, choral pieces, and instrumental pieces. His music is characterized by its beauty, simplicity, and emotional power. He is best known for his arrangements of spirituals, which have been performed by some of the greatest singers of the 20th century, including Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, and Leontyne Price.

Burleigh was a major figure in the development of American music. He helped to introduce African-American folk music to a wider audience and his music has had a profound impact on American culture. He was a true pioneer and his legacy continues to inspire musicians and artists around the world.

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