Friday, February 1, 2013

Black History Month: Music in the 18th Century

Although a tiny minority of classical musicians even today are of African descent, there have been many outstanding musicians over the centuries. 

In the Eighteenth Century, the most well known was Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 - 1799).  His father was a planter on the Caribbean island, Guadeloupe, and his mother a slave.  The family moved to France in 1853 and he acquired a first-class education.  Known today as the Black Mozart (Le Mozart Noir), he was active as a violinist, conductor, and composer in Paris.  He composed symphonies, concertos, sinfonia concertantes (concertos for more than one instrument), and operas.  It was he who commissioned Haydn's Paris Symphonies.

Compact Discs
Le Mozart Noir: Compact Disc 18099

Six String Quartets, opus 1: Compact Disc 8553

Violin Concerto in A Major, op. 5, no. 2:  Compact Disc 4910

Performance parts for his violin concertos and two symphonies:  M2 .M2584 v. 3

More information:
His biography:  Joseph Boulogne, called Chevalier Saint-Georges by Emil F. Smidak:
DC 137.5 .S35 S56 1996

Article (with list of works and bibliography) in Grove Music via Oxford Music Online.

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