Harry T. Burleigh

Henry Thacker Burleigh

2 December 1866–12 September 1949

Beginning his musical career as a choir singer at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Erie, Pa., he went to New York City in 1892 and earned a scholarship at the National Conservatory of Music. He studied with Christian Fritsch, Rubin Goldmark, John White, and Max Spicker. He was baritone soloist for fifty-two years at St. George’s Church (Episcopal), in New York City, 1894-1946. From 1900 to 1925 he was also soloist at Temple Emanu-El. In 1911 he became music editor for G. Ricordi, publishers, in New York City. Well known as a song composer, he also was most successful as an arranger of Negro spirituals. A charter member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (1914), he was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for highest achievement by an American citizen of African descent during the year 1916. He was awarded an honorary M.A. degree by Atlanta University and the Mus.D. by Howard University.

by William J. Reynolds
Companion to Baptist Hymnal (1976)

Collections of Spirituals and Songs:

Plantation Melodies Old & New (1901): PDF
Negro Minstrel Melodies (1910): PDF
Album of Negro Spirituals (1916-1925): HathiTrust
The Celebrated Negro Spirituals (1917)
The Celebrated Negro Spirituals (1919)
Old Songs Hymnal (1929): WorldCat


The Spirituals of Harry T. Burleigh (Van Nuys, CA: Alfred Music, 1984/2007): Amazon
25 Spirituals Arranged by Harry T. Burleigh (Hal Leonard, 2012): Amazon


H.T. Burleigh Collection, Emory University:

Marian Anderson Papers, Correspondence, Folder 797, University of Pennsylvania:

Life & Works:

Charlotte W. Murray, “The Story of Harry T. Burleigh,” The Hymn, vol. 17, no. 4 (October 1966), pp. 101-111: HathiTrust

William J. Reynolds, “Harry Thacker Burleigh,” Companion to Baptist Hymnal (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1976), pp. 275-276.

Anne K. Simpson, Hard Trials: the Life and Music of Harry T. Burleigh (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1990).

Jean Snyder, “‘A great and noble school of music’: Dvořák, Harry T. Burleigh and the African-American spiritual,” Dvořák in America 1892-1895 (Portland, OR: Amadeus, 1993), pp. 123-148.

Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History, 3rd Ed. (New York, 1997), pp. 269-272: Amazon

Ann Sears, “A Certain Strangeness: Harry T. Burleigh’s Art Songs and Spiritual arrangements,” Black Music Research Journal, vol. 24, no. 2 (Autumn 2004), pp. 227-249.

Brian A. Moon, The Old Songs Hymnal: Harry Burleigh and His Spirituals During the Harlem Renaissance, dissertation (Boulder: University of Colorado, 2006).

Jean E. Snyder, Harry T. Burleigh: From the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance (Chicago: University of Illinois, 2016): Amazon

Jean Snyder, “Henry Thacker Burleigh,” Grove Music Online:

Alan Levy, “Henry Thacker Burleigh,” American National Biography:

Teresa L. Reed, “Harry T. Burleigh,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:

“H.T. Burleigh,” Library of Congress: