Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A sobering thought (Philippa, an opera - blog 10)

Continuing my series of blogs on the development of the opera Philippa, based on the life of Harlem-born concert pianist Philippa Duke Schuyler, the daughter of African-American journalist George S. Schuyler and white Texan Josephine Cogdell, who thought that if they combined their superior genes they could produce a genius. Philippa was, indeed, a prodigy who played her own compositions with the New York Philharmonic when barely in her teens. She died in Vietnam in 1967 rescuing 'the orphans', the children of US servicemen and Vietnamese women...

Lest we forget. George and Jody married in 1928. Even in New York it was a daring match for the times, as can be gathered from the following quote from David Levering Lewis's When Harlem Was in Vogue: 'At the close of the year[1927], the Atlanta Constitution congratulated the state of Georgia for getting through the year without a single lynching.'

A Ku Klux Klan meeting in Gainesville, Florida, Dec. 31, 1922.
Other blogs in this series

1. - 16 Sep 2012 - an account of my initial thoughts on Philippa, when I was attempting to convey a more comprehensive trajectory of her life
2. - 18 Sep 2012 - containing Act I of a revised scenario, beginning the action in Vietnam
3. - 25 Sep 2012 - containing my revised scenario
4. - 7 Oct 2012 - containing a one-page synopsis, to make sure such a story can fit into "two hours' traffic on the stage"
5. - Becoming a Harlemite, Vietnamese and Catholic 10 Oct, 2012 - detailing some of the research I'll be doing
6. - A Harlem Tradition? 20 Oct 2012 - detailing Harlem interest in white culture
7. - Sacrifice? 21 Oct 2012 - considering the nature of Philippa's death and whether it was self-sacrifice
8. - Classical aspirations 30 Oct 2012 - looking at Harlem's attitude to classical music in the age of Philippa
9. - Montagnards and Lowlanders 1 Nov 2012 - looking at some of Philippa's writing from Vietnam

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