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Article " Deep River" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

Deep River, 1927, by Harry Thacker Burleigh, 1866-1949.
Deep River, 1927. Harry Thacker Burleigh, 1866-1949. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: M1671.D

Burleigh's 1917 setting of Deep River for solo voice, published by G. Ricordi & Co., New York, is one of the composer's most beloved works. It was so well-received, it inspired the publication of nearly a dozen more spirituals the same year. In addition to the original versions for solo voice, men's chorus, and women's chorus, Deep River received transcriptions for string quartet, organ solo, violin solo, cello solo, and concert band.

This setting was not the first Deep River arrangement by Burleigh. In 1913, G. Schirmer published his arrangement for unaccompanied mixed chorus, followed in 1914 by versions for men's chorus and women's chorus. Although widely performed by choruses and still in print today, this earlier version never brought Burleigh widespread attention.

The SSA version of Deep River was arranged by Nathaniel Clifford Page (1866-1956), a composer who frequently created choral arrangements of Burleigh's works for publisher G. Ricordi. The arrangement retains Burleigh's original melody and piano accompaniment. As the tune is shared by the lower two voices, it is embellished with occasional sixteenth notes, imitating an improvised style. Harmonies are simple diatonic triads with occasional chromatic coloration.

About this Item


  • " Deep River" by Harry Thacker Burleigh


  • -  Burleigh, H. T. (Harry Thacker), 1866-1949
  • -  Worship and Praise
  • -  Songs and Music
  • -  Parlor and Concert Stage
  • -  Traditional and Ethnic Songs and Music
  • -  Progressive Era to New Era (1900-1929)
  • -  Articles


  • article

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