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Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
First French Creole Classical Composer(?)
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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ELCBK
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August 14, 2023 - 2:46 pm
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According to sources gathered at Wikipedia, Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges was the kind of man remarkable stories are made of! 

Claimed to be the 1st Creole Classical Composer, he was a famous fencer, violinist and gained military status during the French Revolution.  Cool to think his 'story' takes place in important historical times for France - in the prime of his life he associated with Marie Antoinette (her life fill of scandals), France was struggling financially after aiding us in the American Revolution (also other endeavors), then the French Revolution followed.  Napoleon re-instated slavery shortly after Joseph Bologne died.

I like his music! 

 

 

Before sharing more of Joseph de Bologne's music, want to mention the "Chevalier" film that was released back in April this year - GREAT entertainment, but I always take 'Hollywood-fantasical' (film based on history) with a grain of salt.  Worthy story, with some GREAT music!  The actor that plays Mozart did his violin homework, but can't say that about Kevin Harrison, Jr (try to ignore the bowing from the shoulder) - can be viewed on Prime, Apple TV, HULU, etc...

Starts right off with Mozart, then Joseph walks in for a Violin Duel!!! 

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AndrewH
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August 26, 2023 - 2:28 am
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There's definitely a lot that's been overdramatized -- as if Bologne's actual life needed any Hollywood fantasy added to it!

The entirely fictitious violin duel with Mozart is actually a disservice to Bologne. The only time Mozart could have met Bologne as an adult, it was Mozart who was trying to prove himself as a serious composer and not merely a child prodigy, and it was Bologne who was the established virtuoso. Bologne's early violin concertos had very likely influenced Mozart's. Bologne was conductor of Paris's best orchestra at the time, and actually turned down Mozart's "Paris" symphony; Mozart ended up having that symphony played by a less prestigious orchestra, and may have held a lifelong grudge against Bologne for it.

Bologne was influential in the development of the violin concerto in that he was an early adopter of new bow designs, and was the first to compose for solo violin with the capabilities of the new transitional bows in mind rather than assuming a baroque bow. He was eventually one of the first violinists to adopt the modern Tourte design.

Another interesting historical footnote: one of the people Bologne trained in swordsmanship was a mixed-race man named Thomas-Alexandre Dumas. When Bologne raised a regiment of volunteers from the French Caribbean for the French revolutionary army, he named Dumas second-in-command. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas went on to become the first general of African descent in the French army, and his son Alexandre became even more famous as one of the giants of French literature.

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ELCBK
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August 26, 2023 - 6:12 pm
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@AndrewH -

Hey, thanks for the extra info! 

Yeah, I probably would've enjoyed the film more if I hadn't read about Joseph beforehand - really had my doubts about the portrayal of his character.  

And, I was disappointed they didn't touch any of his military involvements/accomplishments. 

Easy to see a better film of his story should be made - but I think that of most films supposedly 'based on history'. 🙄 

I had previously read that the tourte bow was developed at that time, but was unaware of the relationship with Joseph de Bologne - thank you!

 

...have to admit, I loved the idea of a 'violin duel', no matter the probability. (lol)

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