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Classical Album of the Week: Music by Composers of African Descent with violinist Samuel Nebyu

June 19, 2018. What a fascinating collection!  Young violinist Samuel Nebyu, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Temple University’s Boyer College of Music & Dance, has come out with a debut album that bears repeated listening. Samuel Nebyu, violin – Music by Composers of African Descent is a treasury of compositions, and a celebration of his Ethiopian-Hungarian heritage.

The disc features violin and piano selections by composers of color: Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Henry Thacker Burleigh, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Clarence Cameron White. While these names may not be immediately familiar, they all played a role in the development of music during the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Burleigh introduced Dvo?ák to spirituals. Samuel-Coleridge Taylor (referred to as the African Mahler) wrote some extraordinary music during his day, and was encouraged by Edward Elgar. Joseph Bologne was known far and wide as a great violinist, a champion swordsman, and prolific composer and conductor who led premiers of Haydn’s “Paris” Symphonies.

Nebyu introduces us to some of this unknown music, and reintroduces us to other works you may have heard before.

Samuel Nebyu, violin — Music by Composers of African Descent is as much an artistic statement as it is a personal one, and an embrace of the foundational elements of Nebyu's life: family, cultural identity, cross-continental influences, and, of course, music.