Talented musican of African slave descent
23rd April 1835
Kenwyn church yard
Joseph Antonio Emidy was a famous musician in the west of Cornwall area for many years. The early part of his life is not well documented, though is it likely he was born in Lisbon, to parents of Brazilian slave origins, and was trained as a musician in Portugal. He was onboard the navy frigate 'Indefatigable' for several years, though it is not clear if this was an enforced employment or by choice.
Disembarking at Falmouth in 1799, Joseph earned his living as a violin player and music teacher, and his talent was such that he became a leading musician in the secular field. In 1802 he married a local woman, Jane Hutchins, and they had 8 children together; six of them were baptised in the Charles the Martyr church in Falmouth, before the family moved to Truro around 1815.
Joseph Emidy became well-known as a leader of orchestras and chamber groups, taught a range of instruments, including the violin, viola, cello and flute, and also tuned harps and pianos. He was well-respected in and around Truro, eventually becoming the Leader of the Truro Philharmonic Orchestra. He composed many pieces of music - including a violin concerto and a set of symphonies - though sadly none of his music survives.
In June 2015, 180 years after his death in April 1835, Joseph Emidy's life and music was celebrated at Truro Cathedral at a special Evensong event, at which a roof boss in St Mary's Aisle was dedicated in his memory.