The Negroes

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The Negroes




1815 is the date of this composition, which sets it firmly in the midst of the growing anti-slavery movement in early nineteenth-century England; 1807 was the year in which the slave trade was abolished, and the abolition of the institution of slavery itself was to follow in 1833.

It's not clear from the collection whether this glee formed part of the music Mazzinghi may have composed for the stage in his post as Music Director at the King's Theatre; Emanuel Rubin does not list this piece as one of Mazzinghi's glee compositions, so it may be that we have here a newly-discovered musical curiosity. The piece is remarkable not so much for its musical worth - though the inclusion of what is clearly a continuo bass line, albeit without figures, is a contribution to the discussion about the appropriateness of instrumental accompaniment to the glee - but for its impassioned text: a plea for the enslaved negro to be seen as a fellow human being. Thirty-seven years before the publication of "Uncle Tom's Cabin", this song tore at the heart-strings of a society which was forced to concede that it had never held the moral argument.



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