Friday, February 6, 2009

See Film Version of James P. Johnson's 'Yamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody' February 10 & 11

[Victory Stride: The Symphonic Music of James P. Johnson; The Concordia Orchestra; Marin Alsop, Conductor; Music Masters 67140 (1994)]

Murray Roth’s 'Yamekraw' (Tuesday and Wednesday), a one-reel vision of African-American history, based on James P. Johnson’s composition and filmed in 1930 at Warner Brothers’ Brooklyn studios

Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University in Wisconsin explains the origin of Johnson's neglected classical work Yamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody, “Written in celebration of a black community on the outskirts of Savannah, Yamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody (1927) was first performed by Fats Waller in a Carnegie Hall concert organized by William C. Handy. It seems most likely that Johnson's relative inexperience in orchestral writing prompted him to ask William Grant Still to rework the score in 1928.” Dr. De Lerma adds: “His first stroke in 1940 did not prevent him from presenting a concert of his own works at Carnegie Hall in 1944, but a much more serious stroke occurred in 1951, confining him to bed until his death.” James Price Johnson (1894-1955) and William Grant Still (1895-1978) are profiled at

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