Impact of the forgotten black Europeans

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery on 2022-05-13 15:39Z by Steven

Impact of the forgotten black Europeans

Islington Tribune
London, United Kingdom

Angela Cobbinah

The Chevalier de St George

Scholars, poets, writers, composers… a new book focuses on the wide influence of Africa abroad, writes Angela Cobbinah

ALESSANDRO de Medici, Duke of Florence, virtuoso 18th-century French violinist and composer Joseph Bologne and 1922 world light heavyweight boxing champion Battling Siki from France via Senegal are probably people we know little about, if at all.

They are part of a forgotten European past explored by Olivette Otele in her scholarly book, African Europeans, which travels through time to reveal how trade, war, slavery and colonialism resulted in a black presence in Europe from as far back as the third century.

This is where Otele, professor of the history and memory of slavery at Bristol University, kicks off, telling the story of St Maurice, Egyptian leader of a Roman legion who was famously executed for refusing to crush a Christian revolt in Gaul.

Celebrated as a martyr across Germany, he is clearly represented as an African in a statue at Magdeburg Cathedral and other church iconography.

Black saints and Madonnas appeared across Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries, perhaps Otele speculates, to symbolise the transformative power of the Catholic Church in converting those it considered heathen…

Read the entire review here.

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‘The Chevalier’ team is eager to burnish the legacy of Joseph Bologne

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, Media Archive, United States on 2022-02-02 23:47Z by Steven

‘The Chevalier’ team is eager to burnish the legacy of Joseph Bologne

Experience CSO
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association
Chicago, Illinois

Kyle MacMillan

Originally commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, “The Chevalier” received its debut run at the Tanglewood Learning Institute, as part of the Tanglewood Music Festival, in 2019.

A champion fencer, gifted athlete, high-ranking officer and violin virtuoso, Joseph Bologne was all those things in 18th-century France, but the classical world has only belatedly come to recognize him as well as a prolific and talented composer.

While he achieved considerable musical success during his lifetime, he nonetheless faced discrimination and was ultimately all but forgotten after his death in 1799, in no small part because he was mixed race. Bologne was born in the French Caribbean colony of Guadeloupe, the son of a white plantation owner and his wife’s African slave.

Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, along with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, will present the Midwest premiere Feb. 18-20 of The Chevalier, a concert theater work about the life and music of this fascinating and unfairly overlooked historical figure. (Bologne took the title of Chevalier de Saint-Georges after graduating from France’s Royal Polytechnical Academy of Fencing and Horsemanship in 1766.) One performance will occur at 8 p.m. Feb. 20 at Symphony Center, with additional dates of 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18, Kehrein Center for the Arts, 5628 W. Washington, and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19, North Shore Center for the Arts in Skokie.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic that the launchpad for the tour is in three different neighborhoods in Chicago during Black History Month. It is the perfect way to start us off, and I’m just so grateful for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra organization to be platforming it,” said Bill Barclay, writer-director of and an actor in The Chevalier. Now the artistic director of Concert Theatre Works, he was director of music in 2012-19 at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

Read the entire article here.

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Ten black composers whose works deserve to be heard more often

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-10-05 19:30Z by Steven

Ten black composers whose works deserve to be heard more often

The Guardian

John Lewis

English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912). Photograph: Unknown/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

The newly formed Chineke orchestra aims to include a work by a composer of ethnicity in each of its concert programmes. John Lewis looks at some of the neglected writers whose music might finally get an airing

In the past 200 years, dozens of prominent black composers from America and other parts of the African diaspora have fought to be recognised by the western classical tradition. The earliest example is Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-99). Born in Guadeloupe, the son of a wealthy plantation owner and a female slave, Saint-George was brought to France at a young age. As well as being a champion fencer, a violin teacher to Marie Antoinette and a colonel in the republican army, his prodigious musical talents led to him being dubbed “le Mozart noir”. He was a prolific composer (with several operas, 15 violin concertos, symphonies and numerous chamber works to his name) and a rare French exponent of early classical violin composition. (Listen to Chi-chi Nwanoku’s radio documentary about him here.)…

Read the entire article here.

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In Search of the Black Mozart

Posted in Arts, Audio, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2015-09-03 02:09Z by Steven

In Search of the Black Mozart

BBC Radio 4
2015-07-19 and 2015-07-26

Sarah Taylor, Producer

Historian Steve Martin and Double Bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku

Chi-chi Nwanoku has spent her career travelling and performing in concert halls the world over as the principal double bassist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. More recently, she’s been on a personal journey seeking out the lives and careers of black classical musicians from the eighteenth century who like her, played and composed music at the highest levels. In some cases, slivers of their lives are on record but you have to be quite determined to find out.

Chi-chi puts the record straight and with the help of some of the finest musical researchers around, she brings to the fore the music and lives of musicians like violinist/composer Joseph Emidy, virtuoso violinist George Bridgetower and composer Joseph Bologne, aka Chevalier de St-George who not only met Mozart in his lifetime, but who was known by all those who heard his music as the ‘Black Mozart’.

In today’s programme she visits the British Library to find our more about Ignatius Sancho – someone who was born into slavery and ended up being the first person of colour in Britain to have the vote. Also of interest to Chi-chi are his musical compositions which are held at the British Library. Together with music curator, Nicolas Bell and Sancho expert Professor Brychhan Carey the three of them assess Sancho’s musical ability and life.

In a more sinister turn of events, Chi-chi talks to Handel scholar, Dr. David Hunter who shares his research which reveals that Handel, whilst composing some of the most beautiful music around was an investor in slavery.

She also hears about the violinist and composer Joseph Emidy who became a musical star of Cornwall’s music scene and meets up with one of his musical ancestors.

Also features commentary from:

Listen to episode 1 here. Listen to episode 2 here.

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Presentation on ‘African Heritage in Classical Music’ followed by the screening of ‘The Black Mozart in Cuba’

Posted in Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Live Events, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Videos on 2014-06-02 20:10Z by Steven

Presentation on ‘African Heritage in Classical Music’ followed by the screening of ‘The Black Mozart in Cuba’

Marcus Garvey Library
Tottenham Green Centre
1 Phillip Lane
Tottenham, London N15 4JA
Saturday, 2014-06-14, 17:00-20:00 BST (Local Time)

Black History Studies in association with the Marcus Garvey Library presents ‘Sankofa Saturdays’

African Heritage in Classical Music

Music is an important part of our cultural heritage. In this presentation, Black History Studies will uncover the hidden contributions of musicians and composers of African descent to the genre of classical music.

The Black Mozart in Cuba

Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de St George, was a Black classical composer and violin virtuoso born in Guadeloupe in the mid 18th century. The son of a Senegalese enslaved African and a French nobleman, he achieved enormous success as a musician, fencer, and military man. Yet, when he died in 1799, he was all but erased from history due in part to Napoleon’s efforts.

The Black Mozart in Cuba is the latest act in the rehabilitation of the memory of this extraordinary human being. The film skillfully combines biographical information with performances of his works. In this documentary, Cuba dedicates a week of cultural activities to his memory and welcomes Saint Georges as “a great hero of the Caribbean.”

In French, English and Spanish with English subtitles…

For more information, click here.

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Monsieur de Saint-George “The American”

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs on 2011-07-28 00:51Z by Steven

Monsieur de Saint-George “The American”

Picador (an imprint of Macmillan)
February 2005
352 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches
ISBN: 978-0-312-31028-8, ISBN10: 0-312-31028-5

Alain Guédé

Translated by Gilda M. Roberts

His life is the stuff of legend: born in 1739 of a slave mother and a French noble father, he became the finest swordsman of his age, an insider at the court of The Sun King, and, most of all, an accomplished musician who came to be known as the “Black Mozart.”

His name is Joseph Bologne, though he was better known as Monsieur de Saint-George, and, because of his origins, “the American.” Alain Guédé recreates the story of this memorable individual, whose musical compositions are at long last being rediscovered and whose story will never again be forgotten.

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The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2009-12-02 02:16Z by Steven

The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow

Pendragon Press
March 2006
566 pages
ISBN: 9781576471098

Gabriel Banat

The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, born Joseph Bologne, was the son of an African slave and a French plantation owner on the island of Guadeloupe. The story of his improbable rise in French society, his life as a famous fencer, celebrated violinist-composer and conductor, and later commander of a colored regiment in the French Revolution, should, on the facts alone, gladden the heart of the most passionate romance novelist. Yet, the information disseminated about this illustre inconnu is found in an extravagant nineteenth-century novel, which contains more fiction than fact. Unfortunately, many of the author’s flights of fancy have found their way into serious works about Saint-Georges. Gabriel Banat has set about systematically dispelling the confusion, for the real story is easily as fascinating as any flight of fancy. Gabriel Banat has been a professional violinist all his life; recitalist and member of the New York Philharmonic, he has systematically scoured the violin repertory for interesting and even unknown music. He came across the works of St. Georges and was fascinated by the freshness and charm of these 18th-century compositions. Eventually, he edited a critical edition of all the violin music and, inevitably, began a systematic investigation into the life of this intriguing and multifaceted individual, utilizing archives of the French Land Army, official clippings and untapped personal diaries of St. Georges’ contemporaries. Banat is the author of an authoritative monograph on St. Georges in the Black Music Research Journal.

Gabriel Banat has been a professional violinist all his life: recitalist and member of the New York Philharmonic, he has systematically scoured the violin repertory for interesting and even unknown music. He is the author of an authoritative monograph on St. Georges in the Black Music Research Journal.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xii
Preface xiv
Necrology xviii
Chapter 1 The Island 1
Chapter 2 Joseph 5
Chapter 3 The Trial 12
Chapter 4 A Fugitive Family 22
Chapter 5 The Bologne Plantation 27
Chapter 6 People ¿of Color¿ 37
Chapter 7 Return to France 40
Chapter 8 Paris 46
Chapter 9 The Prodigy 54
Chapter 10 Too Many Blacks 67
Chapter 11 The Chevalier de Saint-Georges 76
Chapter 12 A Young Man About Town 90
Chapter 13 Virtuoso 97
Chapter 14 Gossec 113
Chapter 15 The New Bow 119
Chapter 16 Composions- Quartets and Concertos 125
Chapter 17 Gluck and Marie Antoinette 140
Chapter 18 Concertos andSymphonie Concertantes 159
Chapter 19 TheOpéra Affair 177
Chapter 20 Ernestine 193
Chapter 21 Mme. de Montesson
Chapter 22 Mme. de Montalembert
Chapter 23 L¿Amant Anonyme
Chapter 24 Le Concert des Amateurs
Chapter 25 The Grand Orient of France
Chapter 26 Le Concert Olympique
Chapter 27 Le Palais-Royal
Chapter 28 London
Chapter 29 The Gathering Storm
Chapter 30 The Bastille
Chapter 31 Revolution
Chapter 32 An Orléans Conspiracy?
Chapter 33 Return to London
Chapter 34 Lille
Chapter 35 The National Guard
Chapter 36 La Légion Saint-Georges
Chapter 37 Regicide
Chapter 38 The Great Terror
Chapter 39 Too Many Colonels
Chapter 40 Paris 1795
Chapter 41 Saint Domingue
Chapter 42 Coda-Finale
Epitaphs for those who survived Saint-Georges 456
Appendix: Dramatis Personae
Works List
List of Documents

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1.1 Map of Guadeloupe xix
Fig. 2.1 View of Basse-Terre, ca. 1750 7
Fig. 2.2 ¿Squares¿ of sugar cane, Bailiff 9
Fig. 5.1 Plantation with view on La Suffrière 30
Fig. 7.1 Custom Records of Passengers arriving in Bordeaux, Aug. 2, 1753 41
Fig. 7.2 Port of Bordeaux, 1753 42
Fig. 8.1 Mme. de Pompadour 49
Fig. 8.2 49 rue St. André des Arts today 52
Fig. 10.1 The Saint-Georges Guard 70
Fig. 11.1 Equestrian statue of Louis XV 79
Fig. 11.2 Chamber music at a musical salon 88
Fig. 12.1 ¿Winter¿ from Les quatre saisons 94
Fig. 12.2 The Italian style of fencing 95
Fig. 13.1 One of Les vingt-quatre violons du Roi 99
Fig. 13.2 Leopold Mozart and his two children 107
Fig. 13.3 English Tea in the Salon of the Four Mirrors 108
Fig. 13.4 Portrait of Saint-Georges at 22 111
Fig. 14.1 François Joseph Gossec 114
Fig. 14.2 L¿Hôtel de Soubise 115
Fig. 15.1 Leopold Mozart, 1756 121
Fig. 15.2 The evolution of the bow 122
Fig. 16.1 Title page of Saint-Georges¿ second set of quartets 130
Fig. 17.1 Maria Antoinette at her spinet in Vienna 145
Fig. 17.2 Christoph Willibald Gluck 147
Fig. 17.3 Marie Antoinette in 1777, Versailles 151
Fig. 18.1 George Polgreen Bridgetower 168
Fig. 19.1 La petit loge at the Opéra in the Palais-Royal 179
Fig. 19.2 Mlle.La Guimard in Le Navigateur 185
Fig. 19.3 Papillon de la Ferté 189
Fig. 20.1 Choderlos de Laclos 195
Fig. 20.2 Théatre Italien in 1777 198
Fig. 21.1 Mme. de Genlis 206
Fig. 21.2 Mme. de Montesson 208
Fig. 21.3 The Duke of Orléans and his son 210
Fig. 23.1 Title page of L¿Amant Anonyme 238
Fig. 24.1 Title page of the D¿Ogny catalogue 246
Fig. 24.2 Saint-Georges¿ quartets listed in the D¿Ogny catalogue 247
Fig. 25.1 Philippe, Duke of Chartres with his family 253
Fig. 26.1 Masonic initiation ceremony 260
Fig. 26.2 The Palais-Royal before its reconstruction 262
Fig. 27.1 ¿Prinny,¿ George, Prince of Wales 277
Fig. 27.2 Philippe, Duke of Orléans 278
Fig. 28.1 Henry Angelo 284
Fig. 28.2 Le Chevalier D¿Éon in his uniform 288
Fig. 28.3 Mlle. La Chevalière D¿Éon in 1783 288
Fig. 28.4 Cartoon of St. George and D¿Éon 293
Fig. 28.5 Fencing match at Carlton House 297
Fig. 29.1 Burning of the Opera House, 1781 307
Fig. 29.2 Palais-Royal after reconstruction 308
Fig. 30.1 Mme. de Genlis as ¿Governor¿ of Philippe¿s children 315
Fig. 30.2 Giovanni Baptista Viotti 317
Fig. 30.3 Louis XVI inaugerating the opening session of the Estates-General 320
Fig. 30.4 Desmoulins haranguing the people 324
Fig. 30.5 Fall of the Bastille
Fig. 31.1 Mrs. Grace Dalrymple Elliott 327
Fig. 32.1 March of the Paris Poissardes, 1789 334
Fig. 32.2 Cartoon of Lafayette kicking Philippe 340
Fig. 33.1 Mr. Angelo¿s Fencing Academy 342
Fig. 34.1 Session at the Jacobin Club, Paris, 1792 363
Fig. 35.1 General Dillon¿s body being burned in Lille 368
Fig. 36.1 Hussar of the Légion St. Georges 374
Fig. 36.2 The battle of Jemappes, 1792 378
Fig. 36.3 Trooper of the 13th regiment of the Chasseurs à cheval, 1793 383
Fig. 37.1 Execution of Louis XVI, 1793 386
Fig. 37.2 Bust of General Dumouriez 388
Fig. 37.3 Arrest of the Commissioners and the Minister of War by Dumourez 397
Fig. 38.1 General Thomas Alexandre Dumas 403
Fig. 38.2 Danton on his way to the guillotine 409
Fig. 38.3 The Feast of the Supreme Being 410
Fig. 38.4 ¿The Last Tumbrel¿ 411
Fig. 40.1 Invasion of the Assembly by the Sans-Culottes 428
Fig. 40.2 Post-Thermadorian manners, 1795 432
Fig. 40.3 Theresa Tallien ¿Our Lady of Thermador¿
Fig. 41.1 Toussaint Louverture, c.1800 444
Fig. 41.2 Map of Saint-Domingue 445

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