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Freeman, (Harry) Lawrence

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Freeman, (Harry) Lawrence

(b Cleveland, 9 Oct 1869; d New York, 21 March 1954). American composer and conductor. He studied music as a child and began his professional career as a church organist. He studied the piano with Edwin Schonert and theory and composition with Johann Beck, founder and conductor of the Cleveland SO. In the early 1890s Freeman moved to Denver and decided to devote himself to composition. He first wrote salon pieces in the conventional style of the period and then turned to larger forms. Although not the first black composer to write an opera (from all evidence that achievement belongs to John Thomas Douglass), he is historically important as the first to conduct his own works with a symphony orchestra (1907, Minneapolis) and the first to compose a substantial number of operas. His output includes 14, of which five were performed on stage or in concert between 1893 and 1947. He wrote in a neo-romantic style and made free use of black folksong idioms. Freeman was active as a teacher at Wilberforce (Ohio) University (1902–4), a choral and theatre-orchestra conductor and a director of musical comedy companies, particularly the Pekin Theatre Stock Company in Chicago and The Red Moon Company in New York. In 1911 he founded the Freeman School of Music in New York and in 1923 the Freeman School of Grand Opera.


(selective list)

Stage (all ops with librettos by composer unless otherwise stated): The Martyr, 1893; Zuluki, orig. entitled Nada, 1898; The Octoroon, 1904; Valdo, 1905; Captain Rufus (musical, J. Green, A. Anderson), 1907; The Tryst, 1909; Voodoo, 1914; Vendetta, 1923; Slave Ballet from Salome, 1932; Zulu King (ballet), 1934

Choral: The Slave, sym. poem, chorus, orch, 1925; 2 cants.

Numerous stage songs, ballads, inst waltzes, marches

MSS in US-Whu

Principal publishers: S. Brainard, Chicago Music, Witmark


GroveO (V. Perlis)


E. Hipsher: American Opera and its Composers (Philadelphia, 1927, 2/1934/R)

E. Southern: The Music of Black Americans: a History (New York, 1971, rev. 3/1997)

C. Davidson: Operas by Afro-American Composers: a Critical Survey and Analysis of Selected Works (diss., Catholic U., 1980)

H. Sampson: Blacks in Blackface: a Source Book on Early Black Musical Shows (Metuchen, NJ, 1980)


Freeman, Paul (Douglas)

(b Richmond, VA, 2 Jan 1936). American conductor. He studied at the Eastman School (BM 1956, MM 1957, PhD 1963), with Ewald Lindemann at the Hochschule für Musik, Berlin, and with Richard Lert and Pierre Monteux; while still a student at Eastman, he was director of the Hochstein Music School (1960–66) and conductor of the Opera Theater of Rochester (1961–6). As director of the San Francisco Community Music Center from 1966 to 1968, he conducted first the San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra and then the San Francisco Little SO, meanwhile winning the Dimitri Mitropoulos International Conductors’ Competition (1967) and conducting Tristan und Isolde at the Spoleto Festival (1968). He was associate conductor of the Dallas SO (1968–70), conductor-in-residence of the Detroit SO (1970–79) and music director of the Victoria SO (1979–89). In 1987 Freeman was founding conductor of the Chicago Sinfonietta, a position he holds together with the post of music director of the Czech National SO, which he assumed in 1996. He has appeared with the LPO, New York PO, Moscow PO, Warsaw PO, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago SO and Berlin SO, and with numerous regional and radio orchestras. His greatest impact has been in recordings, for many of which he has arranged financing and production. Freeman has made over 200 albums, including a series of music by black composers for CBS, the complete Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart piano concertos with Derek Han and a set of music from Broadway. In 1974 he won the Koussevitzky International Recording Award for the Cordero Violin Concerto.


Freeman, Robert (Schofield)

(b Rochester, NY, 26 Aug 1935). American musicologist. He received the BA from Harvard in 1957 and began graduate studies at Princeton University, where he worked with Mendel and Strunk; he took the MFA at Princeton in 1960, and the PhD in 1967, with a dissertation on currents of change in Italian opera from 1675 to 1725. He taught at Princeton from 1963 until 1968, when he joined the music faculty of MIT. In 1973 he was appointed professor of musicology and third director of the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, and in 1997 he became president of the New England Conservatory in Boston.

Freeman's principal area of scholarly inquiry was 18th-century Italian opera and the reform of the libretto in the first third of the 18th century; he also worked on piano music of the early 19th century, and has given piano recitals in both the USA and Europe. Since moving into musical education his interests have moved towards educational issues and arts funding.


Opera without Drama: Currents of Change in Italian Opera, 1675–1725 (diss., Princeton U., 1967; Ann Arbor, 1981)

‘The Travels of Partenope’, Studies in Music History: Essays for Oliver Strunk, ed. H.S. Powers (Princeton, NJ, 1968), 356–85

‘Apostolo Zeno's Reform of the Libretto’, JAMS, xxi (1968), 321–41

‘La verità nella ripetizione’, MQ, liv (1968), 208–27

‘Farinello and his Repertory’, Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Music in Honor of Arthur Mendel, ed. R.L. Marshall (Kassel and Hackensack, NJ, 1974), 301–30

‘Musical Education and Public Policy’, Music Perception, xi (1993), 197–203


J.S. Bach: Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding, bwv176, Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, i/15 (Kassel, 1967)


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