Art Works Blog

American Artscape Notable Quotable: Jannina Norpoth

“Ragtime has a certain style, and even the sad music still sounds happy. I think it’s reflective of being a Black person during that time and having to be so repressed about the ways society was oppressing you, and having to show that in a very understated way.” — Jannina Norproth

In 1911, noted Black composer Scott Joplin published a piano-vocal score of his opera Treemonisha with his own money—using up almost all of his savings—after being turned down by other publishers. There also were no takers for staging the production in New York, and the only performance of the opera in his lifetime was a concert recital in 1915 in Harlem, also paid for by Joplin. The music was much different from the ragtime compositions he was known for, and the story wildly progressive for its time: a young Black woman named Treemonisha is chosen to lead her community, using her education to defeat the conjurers who used superstition to prey on the people… In this centennial year of women’s suffrage, Treemonisha makes another revival with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and other international collaborators. Read the full story of this new multinational production of Joplin’s groundbreaking work in the most recent issue of American Artscape.

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