Harry Lawrence Freeman: Seeking Documentation on an Important Event in 19th-century African American Music History



Thanks for this post and raising some of these questions. I covered some of this material, extant and missing, in my dissertation, “The Opera is Booming. This is a City.: Opera in the Urban Frontier of Denver, 1864–1893” (University of Michigan: 2019).

I surmised that Freeman retitled/reworked "Platonus" as "The Martyr," as Platonus is the eponymous lead character. The staff paper used for the oldest score for "The Martyr" (H. Lawrence Freeman papers, Series I, Box 18) dates to a company that distributed primarily by mail order, which would have been a likely method for Freeman to receive the quantity of paper he required at an affordable price.

Drs. Kira Thurman, Lucy Caplan, David Gutkin, and I are the bulk of musicologists who have written on Freeman, having scoured libraries from Denver to Cleveland and New York City for his materials. Please keep us updated if you find anything new!

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