About this work

Dett was born of an African-American family in Drummondville (now Niagara Falls), Ontario. they settled in New York when the boy was eleven. Influenced by the African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and by the advice of Dvorak to American musicians to seek out their folk roots, Dett explored all aspects of his people's music, especially the spiritual. He was famous as a choral conductor and arranger, founding the influential Hampton Institute Choir. This highly proficient, imaginative, and charming piano suite was written at about the time Dett graduated from Oberlin College. It is an interesting cross between late Victorian parlor music conventions and African-American melodies.