Joplin, S :: Five Scenes from Treemonisha

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  • Composer
    Joplin, S
  • Instrumentation
    Woodwind Quintet
  • Publisher
    International Music Company (IMC) [I3595]
  • Editor
    Bastable, Graham
  • Orchestration
    fl, ob, cl, hn, bsn
  • Includes CD or Audio Download
    No
  • Classification
    Collections
  • Genre
    Ragtime
  • Contents
    • We're Goin' Around
    • Prelude
    • Aunt Dinah Has Blowed de Horn
    • Superstition
    • A Real Slow Drag
Qty:  
Five Scenes from Treemonisha
Joplin, S

International Music Company presents Five Scenes from Scott Joplin's 'Treemonisha' arranged for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon by Graham Bastable.

'Scott Joplin is to ragtime what John Philip Sousa is to the march and Johann Strauss is to the waltz. They are virtually synonymous. Yet Joplin's great unfulfilled passion was to write opera. He burst onto the scene in 1899 with the publication of Maple Leaf Rag. It sold over a million copies. His first attempt at opera was A Guest of Honor, written in 1903. It was given a single performance. The score has never been found.

Sometime in the next few years he began work on Treemonisha. He published the piano-vocal score himself in 1911. His many attempts to have it produced were unsuccessful. In 1915, his health failing, he presented a run-through in Harlem, playing his score on the piano. It was an utter failure. He died in New York on April 1, 1917.

Treemonisha lay untouched till the ragtime revival of the 1970s. It was finally given a full professional production by the Houston Grand Opera in 1975 with arrangements and orchestrations by Gunther Schuller. With Schuller at the helm it was recorded in 1976.

Treemonisha opens on a plantation in the post Civil War Texas-Arkansas. Among the freed slaves living there are the childless couple Ned and Monisha. They find a new-born child under the great tree before their cabin. Act I begins with Treemonisha, now 18, the only educated woman in the settlement, ready for a career as a teacher and leader. She struggles with the prevailing ignorance and superstition of many of her people. Neighbors arrive to help with the corn-husking and sing the rousing We're Goin' Around. Locked in a power struggle with the superstitious element, Treemonisha is kidnapped by the ring-leaders and brought to their lair. Superstition is their spooky statement. Treemonisha is eventually rescued and begins the journey home. The act ends with the jubilant choral number, at the sound of the dinner horn, the 'quittin' time' song, Aunt Dinah Has Blowed De Horn.

In Act II Treemonisha's return is celebrated. Her evil kidnappers are captured and the people demand punishment. But Treemonisha persuades them not to harm the kidnappers, and they are lectured that 'A wrong is never right.' The opera concludes with the spectacular choral-dance celebration A Real Slow Drag that triumphantly proclaims, 'marching onward, marching onward . . .'

- Graham Bastable

  • Composer
    Joplin, S
  • Instrumentation
    Woodwind Quintet
  • Publisher
    International Music Company (IMC) [I3595]
  • Editor
    Bastable, Graham
  • Orchestration
    fl, ob, cl, hn, bsn
  • Includes CD or Audio Download
    No
  • Classification
    Collections
  • Genre
    Ragtime
  • Contents
    • We're Goin' Around
    • Prelude
    • Aunt Dinah Has Blowed de Horn
    • Superstition
    • A Real Slow Drag

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