Academic journal article Notes

Columbia University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Academic journal article Notes

Columbia University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Article excerpt

Columbia University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library has acquired a large collection of manuscripts, unpublished scores, librettos, correspondence, photographs, and ephemera from the estate of Harry Lawrence Freeman (1869-1954), one of the earliest composers in America to embellish an operatic score with jazz, blues, and spirituals.

H. Lawrence Freeman, born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1869, was a musical prodigy and an ambitious composer. He is credited with being the first African American composer to have successfully staged an original opera of his own composition, which premiered in Denver's Deutsches Theater in 1893 when Freeman was 24 years old. Freeman went on to a long career in New York, composing some fifteen full-scale grand operas, a number of which received full-scale performances.

Significantly, all of Freeman's operas address themes of African American experience and memory, a fact that positioned him as a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance, the cultural flowering of the arts that emerged out of the upper-Manhattan region in the 1920s and 1930s, and produced the signal work of composer William Grant Still. In 1921, Freeman founded the Negro Grand Opera Company in Harlem, occupying the former site of Oscar Hammerstein's popular theater. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.