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Roanne Edwards

During the 1950s Fela Sowande gained international recognition as an organist and composer of contemporary art music. He was the first African composer to combine African traditional music with Western classical styles and forms—a development exemplified in his African Suite for strings (1952) and Nigerian Folk Symphony (1960). According to Nigerian literary scholar Abiola Irele, Sowande’s musical style “harks back to the nationalist music of nineteenth-century Europe in its use of Nigerian melodies and rhythms within a work that is conceived essentially along the lines of Western orchestral writing before the contemporary period.” In 1986 Sowande’s African Suite was performed at Wole Soyinka’s Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, and his work continues to attract a following in both African and Western art music circles.

born in Oyo Nigeria Sowande spent his youth in Lagos Nigeria His father Emmanuel Sowande was among the early twentieth century musicians ...