GO DOWN MOSES

Latest update on 28/12/2013

Artist: Roland Hayes
Author: Harry T. Burleigh
Label: Victor
Year: 1919

Negro spiritual with biblical lyrics based on Exodus 8:1, where God orders Moses to free the Israelites from Egypt, whereby the Israelites stand for the Afro-American slave community and Egypt (and Pharaoh) for the slave owners. Burleigh was an Afro-American bariton with a scholarship for the National Conservatory of Music in New York. By the time Antonin Dvorak studied there (in preparation of his New World Symphony), Burleigh was employed as the institute's floor cleaner. He always sang spirituals while working, so when Dvorak used spirituals in his New World Symphony, Burleigh was the obvious go-between, or to put it in his own words: "It was the first time in the history of music that a negro's song had been a major theme in a great symphonic work". Later Burleigh became a voice coach for Roland Hayes, Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson.

Same theme was published as Let My People Go since the 1850s, entering the canon of The Fisk Jubilee Singers a.o.

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