Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George (1745-1799)

Portrait_of_Chevalier_de_Saint-George

 

Born in the Caribbean to a French plantation owner and a slave woman, Boulogne was renown for his swordsmanship and athleticism; he also gained considerable fame as a composer and violinist, often referred to as the ‘Black Mozart’ for his musical prowess.  It was noted that he excelled at fencing as a youth, and was praised by his contemporaries for his skill and grace in masterfully defeating his peers.  During that time, he studied under several prominent Parisian musicians, gaining notoriety for his compositions and abilities.  As an aristocrat, he served in the army during the revolution, commanding a regiment of free black volunteers, and also led the ensemble of the Concert des Amateurs, in which he played violin.

Symphony Concertante in F Major, Opux X, No. 1

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