Thanksgiving in Minnesota

Classics Illustrated Song of Hiawatha

Marking Thanksgiving, inspired by harvest celebrations between Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in New England, with an opera drawn from an epic poem inspired by Ojibwe legends from Minnesota might seem strange, but  Thanksgiving seems to be sort of a hodge-podge anyway, so whatever!

Wrapping up National Native American Heritage Month with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor‘s 1898 cantata Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, the first in a trilogy of cantatas based on Longfellow‘s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha.

Coleridge-Taylor was born to an English mother and an absent Sierra Leonean father (echoes of Obama) in 1875.  He was active in the 1890s and became known as “The African Mahler”.  The wildly successful Hiawatha Trilogy made his name, but he died at just 37 years old.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Another interesting link between Hiawatha and Thanksgiving is Longfellow himself.  He also wrote The Courtship of Miles Standish which helped reinvigorate American interest in the Pilgrims just as Thanksgiving was beginning to take hold as a nation-wide holiday.

ANYWAY…  Happy Thanksgiving Americans!


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