I am Alain Guédé, the author of Monsieur de Saint-George: A Biography, which has been published in
Saint-George was completely unknown before I decided to do something about that. Only a few rich plantation owners in the
The above is just a brief summary of my experience, which, I believe, qualifies me to answer your letter.
Firstly: the kind of respect we owe to Saint-George is above all that of playing his music well. The first imperative set by the association ‘Le Concert de Monsieur de Saint-George’ and myself was that his works should be performed by the best musicians available. The Orchestre des Archets de Paris, which recorded the CD we are talking about, is one of the finest ensembles in the world today. Notably, it has toured the
We could have chosen a picture by Fragonard (as we did for the last Saint-George CD by Les Archets de Paris) or by Desportes (like the cover of my book in
Thirdly: I thank you for mentioning the elegance of Saint-George, which is something I have brought out in my biography. Your observation, however, poses the problem of aesthetics. Given that the cover is the work of two great artists, how does one judge its aesthetic qualities? Was Marilyn Monroe pleased with her portrait by Andy Warhol? Can one consider the works of Basquiat as ‘beautiful’? Did Picasso do justice to the beauty of Dora Maar?
Wozniak’s colouring, I notice, evokes the ‘Beatles period’. And that is not just a coincidence. The drawing pays a faithful tribute to the life of Saint-George, in showing him surrounded by pretty girls.
How would Saint-George dress if he was alive today? In smart Smalto style? Or with a mixture of elegance and originality, in clothing by John Galliano or Jean-Paul Gaultier? Would he be dressed like George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac, or like Prince? Taking into account his very modern, even provocative personality, Cabu and Wozniak chose a very new and original approach. And the success of this CD in
This interpretation may come as a surprise, and I understand that. But that was one of our intentions.
Finally I would like to say, in the friendliest possible way and with all due respect, that I think it would be a good idea if, rather than joining in with those who would like to use Saint-George for their own dishonourable ends, you could take part in the vast task of reviving his work, by supporting this CD.
I invite you to take a look at the work we at the association ‘Le Concert de Monsieur de Saint George’ have carried out. You will find us at: www.chevalier-saint-george.fr
My best regards to you,
CALLIOPE - ARPEGE
BP 40433 - 60204 COMPIEGNE cedex
The CBS Black Composers Series of the 1970s was recorded under the direction of Paul Freeman, conductor, and included music of Saint-Georges as well.
"I think it would be against the interests of all parties to distribute this album with its current art cover, which depicts Saint-Georges in a caricature-like manner reminiscent of racist 'blackface' techniques used decades ago. Saint-Georges is presented in clownish polka-dot attire...".
and a French counterpart at:
as an innovative composer, virtuoso violinist and conductor of the two best orchestras in Paris. I have no doubt that the Orchestre des Archets de Paris has added a first-class performance to the recorded repertoire of Saint-Georges' music, and the CD is listed at my website, but the cover art does not appear at AfriClassical.com I am very disappointed by the attempt made on behalf of Calliope to justify such a demeaning portrayal of the greatest Afro-French composer of the 18th century.