Deep River – Negro Spiritual
Composer Harry Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949) used to listen to his grandfather (a former blind slave who run away and settled in Pennsylvania) sing Negro spirituals and other songs of plantations.
He graduated in New York at the Institute of Musical Art, directed by Antonin Dvorak who was influenced by the Negro spirituals when he composed pieces like his Symphony No 5 “From the New World”.
He arranged a hundred spirituals since 1901. They were adapted for the voices of the artists who had to sing these songs. For example, Paul Robeson used to sing on stage and recorded “Deep River” that he arranged.
He published “Jubilee Songs of the United States of America” in 1916.
The revenues from publication of Burleigh’s works helped pay for his extensive travels, including several trips to Europe, and his studies of langues. over the years he performed for such dignitaries as the King and Queen of England and President Theodore Roosevelt. He encouraged the careers of young musicians like Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Carol Brice, Margaret Bonds and William Grant.