Harry T. Burleigh: Through Moanin’ Pines

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I have pleasure in sharing this new recording which I have made of a piece I recently discovered in the collection Four Early 20th Century Piano Suites by Black Composers, published by Schirmer edition.

Henry Thacker (“Harry”) Burleigh (1866–1949) was an American composer and professional baritone. As a composer he was a pioneer in the development of a characteristically American music. He introduced many classically trained musicians and composers (including Dvořák) to spirituals, while also including this wonderfully rich and expressive music in his own compositions.

Through Moanin’ Pines is the first of the six pieces which make up his 1907 piano suite “From the Southland”, his only solo piano work. The piece is based on the following text:

“Along de desolate roads we pass
Thro’ lonely pines and wither’d grass: –
De win’ moans in de branches tall
An’ a heavy sadness broods o’er all.”

Here is my recording.

Piano: Andrew Eales (Nord Grand, Amber Upright piano)
Recording & Mastering: Ableton Live Suite 11, 22 October 2021

For information about the sheet music, read on…

Four Early 20th Century Piano Suites

The complete suite From the Southland can be found in this 1997 Schirmer Library publication, together with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Three-Fours (a suite of six valses), Nathaniel Dett’s deliciously evocative suite In the Bottoms, and Artie Matthews Five Pastime Rags.

All are edited by Joseph Smith, who also includes an informative introduction.

Burleigh’s Suite is the most technically accessible of the four, and would suit players of late intermediate to early advanced level (UK Grades 5-7). The other three are suitable for the more established advanced player.

The book is well worth exploring alongside the brilliant OUP series Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora, which I have reviewed here.

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based on Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.