n SAMUS : South African Music Studies - General introduction to the Mohapeloa Critical Edition - node 4 - the edition

Volume 36-37 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2223-635X


An African Critical Edition 

This Critical Edition brings together for the first time most of the music written by composer Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa (1908-1982).1 It comprises 182 short unaccompanied choral works and one piano work, collectively dating from the late 1920s to late 1970s. It is the first complete critical edition of music from southern Africa, and establishes not only the critical edition in Africa, but also the gravitas of a genre of African vocal music composed as literary-musical work by people using their home language (in this case Sesotho), notating their music in the mission script, tonic solfa, and writing for a culture of choral singing moulded since the nineteenth century as a vital expression of individuality and community. Mohapeloa was one of many black composers of his time, but he was not South African. He hailed from the tiny kingdom of Lesotho, a country with a very small population that remained outside the polity of late colonial and apartheid rule throughout Mohapeloa’s life (a life briefly sketched below), and ever since, against all economic and political odds. Lesotho impacted on his lifework in ways that only gradually unfold as his work is studied.

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