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Waited 100 years for it? Listen here to the rediscovered Frederick Douglass ‘Farewell’ song

January 9, 2019

The rare song, scored for voice and piano, probably hasn’t been performed in more than a hundred years, with only two known copies of the sheet music having survived. One of them was acquired last year by the University of 新萄京娱乐场’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, while the other copy resides at the British Library in London.

So, if you’ve been dying to hear the rediscovered “Farewell Song of Frederick Douglass,” performed by Eastman School of Music students Jonathan Rhodes ’20E (tenor), and Lee Wright ’03E, 18E (DMA) (piano)—here’s your chance.


The song was composed in 1847 by Douglass’s close companion and fellow abolitionist, the Englishwoman Julia Griffiths, to commemorate his departure from Britain, where he had lived to avoid being recaptured after his escape from enslavement in Maryland. For 19 months, Douglass had crisscrossed Britain, lecturing on the evils of slavery in the United States. Now that supporters had raised 150 English pounds (about $750 then) to buy his legal freedom, the renowned publisher, orator, and freedom fighter was able to return to his family in his native country. Yet, his safe passage was by no means guaranteed.

Read more

hand holding a piece of sheet music bearing the image and name of Frederick Douglass

Rediscovered song honoring Frederick Douglass to be performed for the first time in a century
Read more about the history of this sheet music and how it ended up on this side of the Atlantic, and enjoy a quick video tour of this rare collection.

singer on stage

Tribute to Frederick Douglass in word and song
Watch the full December 2018 event, as historian David Blight, local and University leaders, artists, and performers pay tribute to Frederick Douglass.


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Category: The Arts