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  • Dominico Nenwadudu

The Chevalier de Saint Georges

Joseph Bologne known as "Le Chevalier de Saint Georges" was a highly accomplished aristocrat, fencer, athlete, a violinist virtuoso, and a true renaissance man of the 18th Century. As of the time to which he was born, slave trade was the most lucrative business in the world. He was conceived by his mother in 1745. His father was a wealthy plantation owner, his mother a slave on the plantation of his father. His father revoked the slave title of his son and his son's mother. The father ignored his sons mixed race and the social norms of the time, unlike most plantation owners. He took his son to France, where he was educated and given opportunities that were typically denied to blacks, especially slaves, back then. Bologne received training in music and fencing, developing exceptional skills in both disciplines. His musical talent was nurtured by François-Joseph Gossec, a prominent composer and conductor of the era.

Bologne’s swordsmanship, had gained him the recognition as one of the best swordsmen in Europe. He was knighted and awarded the title, "Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges". His fencing skills led to his appointment as captain of the first all-black regiment in Europe.

His most famous and prominent student who got beheaded was Marie Aintoinette but her lessons were stopped after they got scared that his good looks might seduce her.

Bologne’s music was performed at the Concert des Amateurs, a famous Parisian concert series, during which time he also served as the Conductor. Bologne was to be rewarded for his hard work by being appointed as the Director of the Paris opera, however, three operatic divas were unwilling to work with Bologne, as they knew he had a reputation for hard work, so the three lazy divas wrote to the queen, stating, “their conscience would not allow them to take instructions from a mulatto”. Le Chevalier didn’t get that job, and nobody ever did, as he had been the most and only qualified person.

Saint-George had been a superstar, his most significant contributions to music was his role in advancing the genre of the symphony. He infused his compositions with elements of folk music and African rhythms, creating a unique and vibrant sound that captivated audiences back then. His works, such as the "Symphonie Concertante in G major," showcased his exceptional skill as a composer and conductor, even the likes of Mozart, was said to have borrowed from his composition, as Mozart had lived and worked with him for a while, he had been Mozart’s senior by at least ten years, and Mozart was to later attend the same music institute.

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