Yet he never had the chance to fully develop his remarkable talent. He died tragically young from pneumonia complicated by exhaustion from overwork, at the age of just 37. In the last months of his life he had completed a violin concerto which he never lived to hear, and which showed a new maturity and sense of expression in his style which was never fulfilled. His early death was a huge loss to the musical life of Great Britain, and a potentially important voice had been silenced at a crucial time in classical music as the philosophy of Schoenbergian theory, which would eventually destroy the careers of many composers with outlooks similar to Coleridge-Taylor's, was beginning to emerge.
Despite Coleridge-Taylor's enormous popularity in Britain (for many years hardly a school or college missed the opportunity of performing his Song of Hiawatha) his talent is still undervalued today, with many of his works still awaiting their first recordings. Coleridge-Taylor himself made very little money from his success, having sold the royalty of his Hiawatha trilogy to his publishers for a small one-off payment. The circumstances of his death, leaving behind an impoverished family (for whom King George V took the unusual step of awarding an annual pension) contributed greatly to the subsequent adoption of a system of royalties for composers in the UK.