J. Rosamond Johnson (below, on right) was very active and successful in minstrelsy and vaudeville in the early 20th century. In a manuscript prepared for Variety magazine, he writes, “Thanks to Variety for space to say a word about the colored performer, the unique position he has held in the world of entertainment for more than a half century. When, with his slave songs, work songs, and “Darkey Pastimes” he was the source of amusement despite his hard trials with servile conditions on the plantations of his own southland.” (MSS 21, Box 18 Folder 6).
In 1923, pianist Isidor Achron was contacted by the famous violinist, Jascha Heifetz, who offered him a position as his accompanist on a world tour. Here they are in South Africa, Japan, and Mexico.
published in 1928 by Sam Fox Publishing Company (Cleveland, Ohio)
John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954), an African American composer and performer of vaudeville and musical theater. For the dignified portrayal of Native Americans in his musical, “The Red Moon”, Johnson was made sub-chief of an Iroquois tribe near Montreal, Quebec.
Inkle and Yarico is an English comic opera written by Samuel Arnold, and published in 1787. The opera takes place in Barbados (see Mark Howell’s detailed description below).
“Les Indes Galantes” is an opéra-ballet composed by Jean-Philippe Rameau in 1735. It was quite popular, having been performed 64 times between 1735 and 1737. The opéra-ballet contained four entrées: 1. Le Turc généreux; 2. Les Incas du Pérou; 3. Les Fleurs; and 4. Les Sauvages. The theme of “Les Indes Galantes” revolves around the universality of love.
To improve cultural and state relations during the Cold War, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. traded ideas, technology, scholars, and artists. As part of these exchanges, the U.S. State Department sponsored a seven-week Russian tour of the Robert Shaw Chorale. The Chorale’s repertoire for the tour included Schubert’s Mass in G, pieces by Debussy and Gershwin, some African American spirituals, Bach’s Mass in B minor, and Arnold Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden (“Peace on Earth”).
The Chorale’s first performance in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) coincided with a dramatic moment of political conflict between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.—the Cuban missile crisis. [click on article to enlarge]
Among other events of the Russian tour, Shaw visited a group of young Russian artists. Their apartment was filled with abstract art, as well as five religious icons that had been painted since the initial performance four weeks earlier of the B Minor Mass. The painter of these icons was Yuri Vassilievich Titov, a graduate of the Moscow Architectural Institute, shown here with his wife, Lena.
The B Minor Mass took on profound personal and artistic significance for Titov. Following the Chorale’s Moscow performance of the Mass, Titov began to focus on spiritual and iconographic painting, according to Titov’s close associate and friend, composer Kamil Tchalaev. Titov proffered his icon of Jesus to Shaw with the following blessing: “And may this Russian Spas [God] be from now on your guardian.”
Titov’s involvement with religion, as well as his practice of experimental art, attracted the attention of the Soviet government, which labeled him a dissident. The Soviet crackdown on “free experimentation” in the arts is chronicled here by a friend of Shaw’s who worked in the U.S.S.R. for the U.S. State Department.
Yuri Titov and his family were often imprisoned in so-called psychiatric clinics, as shown in this drawing by Titov, in which he depicts his imprisonment.
In 1972, the KGB advised Titov and his family to leave the country, but much of Titov’s art was destroyed as they passed through customs. Titov settled in Paris, and at the present day, he continues to produce art. Read more about Yuri Titov here.
-Elizabeth Pinborough and Emily Ferrigno