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Blackness in Opera$
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Naomi Andre, Karen M. Bryan, and Eric Saylor

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036781

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036781.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 28 February 2021

Political Currents and Black Culture in Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha

Political Currents and Black Culture in Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha

(p.101) 5 Political Currents and Black Culture in Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha
Blackness in Opera

Ann Sears

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines politics and black culture in Scott Joplin's Treemonisha, a love story that also lays emphasis on the main character's education and its benefits to her and the plantation folk, as well as the novel idea of a woman as a community leader. Much of Treemonisha's music parallels the Euro-American musical style employed by other American opera composers of the early twentieth century, but also incorporates nineteenth-century African American musical styles. This chapter first considers Treemonisha's African American musical elements before discussing some important musical signifiers of black identity in the opera, along with Joplin's use of language to impart cultural and political messages. It also explores Treemonisha's take on progress and education as well as its political content. It argues that through Treemonisha, Joplin was making a statement about the political, social, and economic status of African Americans in the early twentieth century.

Keywords:   politics, black culture, Scott Joplin, Treemonisha, education, African American music, black identity, language, progress, African Americans

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