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JOSEPH BOLOGNE , CHEVALIER DE SAINT-GEORGES Sinfonie Concertante No . 2 , Mvt . I

JOSEPH BOLOGNE , CHEVALIER DE SAINT-GEORGES Sinfonie Concertante No . 2 , Mvt . I

ABOUT THE COMPOSER
Born 1745 in Basse-Terre , Guadeloupe ; died 1799 in Paris , France
• Joseph Bologne was born in Guadeloupe to a wealthy plantation owner and Nanon , an enslaved woman who worked as a maid for the Bologne family .
• In 1753 , Bologne ’ s father took him to France for his education , enrolling him in a boarding school . Nanon joined them two years later , and the family resided in the Saint-Germain neighborhood of Paris .
• Bologne was a multi-talented individual who became popular in court life . He studied fencing and quickly developed into a prodigy , defeating some of the best swordsmen in France by age 15 .
• Bologne also showed great musical talent . He won a position as concertmaster of Le Concert des Amateurs , which , despite its name , was one of the premier orchestras in Europe . Bologne eventually became the conductor of the ensemble . In this role , he wrote and premiered many of his own works and was responsible for commissioning six symphonies by Haydn .
• Life changed for Bologne during the French Revolution . Despite his aristocratic upbringing , he faced discrimination throughout his life in France due to the prevalence of racism . At the onset of the Revolution , Bologne was moved by the movement ’ s declaration to give equal rights to all French people and dedicated himself to the cause . He was one of the first Black colonels in the French army and led 800 infantrymen and 200 cavalry troops in Europe ’ s first all-Black regiment .
• Bologne came out of the Revolution a hero , but his fortunes were precarious at the time due to the paranoid atmosphere of post-war France . He was even imprisoned for a year and , when released , was unable to restart his military or musical careers .
• Bologne died with his wealth diminished , and his music was largely forgotten in the mainstream Western classical repertoire . He was a singularly talented man , who in addition to his many accomplishments as an athlete and musician , risked a great deal to fight for the rights of others .
THE WORLD AT A GLANCE

1778

MUSIC Joseph Haydn ’ s “ Little Organ Mass ”
ART Francisco Goya ’ s Children with a Cart
FUN FACT
Bologne was one of Marie Antoinette ’ s music teachers . He was eventually relieved of his duties after the two became “ too close .”
LITERATURE French Philosopher Voltaire passes away
ABOUT THE PIECE
• Written in 1778 , Bologne ’ s Sinfonie Concertante was composed in a popular style of the time . Part concerto , part symphony : the work prominently features two violins in this two-movement work .
• This style is thought to be derived from the Baroque concerto grosso . This lyrical and energetic work is a beautiful display of Bologne ’ s masterful voice as a Classical-era composer .
HISTORY American Revolutionary War
BSO SESSIONS | APRIL 2021
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