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King of RagtimeScott Joplin and His Era$
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Edward A. Berlin

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195101089

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195101089.001.0001

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Treemonisha, 1910–1911

Treemonisha, 1910–1911

(p.193) Chapter Eleven Treemonisha, 1910–1911
King of Ragtime

Edward A. Berlin

Oxford University Press

The formation of the Clef Club was the most important event in 1910 for New York's black musicians headed by James Reese Europe. In 1911, Scott Joplin published the piano-vocal score of his opera Treemonisha. Treemonisha is not a ragtime opera. Joplin wanted to demonstrate his ability to transcend the limitations of ragtime and black music. Treemonisha takes place in September 1884 in an Arkansas community of former slaves. The plot centers on an 18-year-old woman named Treemonisha who is taught to read by a white woman, and then leads her community against the influence of conjurers who prey on ignorance and superstition. The author argues that Treemonisha is actually Freddie Alexander. It has been speculated also that Joplin accused Irving Berlin of stealing his music to compose Alexander's Ragtime Band.

Keywords:   Clef Club, James Reese Europe, Treemonisha, Arkansas, Freddie Alexander, Irving Berlin, Alexander's Ragtime Band

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