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Columbia College Chicago
Collection of Cyril Creque scores and publications

Collection of Cyril Creque scores and publications

Creque, Cyril Felix William, 1899–

Music manuscripts, dated 1937, circa 1948, 1955, and undated, sheet music for “The Upward Way (A Patriotic Song of the V.I.)” published in 1959 by Arch Music in New York, and a book of original poetry, Trade Winds (Newport, RI: Franklin Printing House, 1934).

1 box, with 1 volume

Received from Dale Mathews, March 2003.

Biographical note:

Cyril Creque, poet, composer, and Health Department officer, was born on St. Thomas (then the Danish West Indies) in 1899. He attended the best schools available on the island, and, as was a common practice at the time, continued his education by correspondence. Creque earned a diploma from the University Extension Conservatory of Chicago, Illinois, in 1938.

His life-long career, however, was with the Health Department. He began as a clerk in 1919 and attained the post of administrative officer before retiring in 1950. Yet, despite his claims that music and poetry were but hobbies, Creque made recognized contributions to the cultural life of his homeland. He often lauded the virtues of music and poetry (including both European “masters” and local works) in print and in a monthly radio show he hosted with his son on station WSTA in St. Thomas.

As one of the forerunners of the Virgin Islands poetic tradition, Creque is listed in Who's Who in American Poetry. His poetry was published in two collections, Trade Winds, in 1934, and Panorama, in 1947.

Creque also gave piano lessons and served as church organist for both the Memorial Moravian Church and the Frederick Evangelical Lutheran Church, of which he was a member. His songs reflect his patriotism and his love for the Virgin Islands. Major musical works are “From Mark of the Yoke,” written in honor of the centennial of the abolition of slavery in the Virgin Islands in 1848, and “The Upward Way (A Patriotic Song of the V.I.).”

Scope note:

The collection is small, consisting of just six music manuscripts, sheet music for one published song, and one book. However, the handwritten scores offer a welcome insight into the work of this locally important but mostly forgotten composer and poet. Cyril Creque was one of the educated elite on the islands, and like that of his contemporaries (including Alton Augustus Adams), his work captures the essence of the local cultural milieu during the early 1900s, reflecting the political issues of the day and the kind of romantic patriotism prevalent in the Virgin Islands at that time.

In addition, his published song, written shortly before his death and arranged by Arthur Charles, is only available here and at the University of the Virgin Islands Library. It appears to have gone out of print.