Thursday, February 12, 2009

Program on 'Sonata Mulattica' by Rita Dove Tells Story of George Bridgetower on March 20

[Sonata Mulattica; Rita Dove; W.W. Norton Co. (2009)]

Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is the author of the biographical essay on George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower at He writes that the work we now know as the Kreutzer Sonata was “originally titled by Beethoven as Sonata mulattica”. The term translates as Mulatto Sonata. “Mulatto” is pejorative when used to denote a person with one Black parent and one White parent. Rita Dove's poem entitled The Bridgetower can be found in the magazine "The New Yorker".
Former U.S. and Virginia poet laureate Rita Dove will team up with Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley at 8 p.m. March 20 at the Paramount Theater to present “Another Music,” a program introducing Dove’s latest book of poems, “Sonata Mulattica,” and exploring the life of 19th-century violinist George Bridgetower. Tickets are $10. 

Sonata Mulattica
Rita Dove
In this lyric narrative inspired by history, a former US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winner imaginatively re-creates the life of a nineteenth-century virtuoso violinist. The son of a white woman and an “African Prince” travels to Vienna to meet Beethoven. The composer’s subsequent sonata is dedicated to him but he, exuberant with acclaim, offends Beethoven.
From “Vienna Spring” 
though dipped in ink, this Jacob 
has grappled the shining messenger 
for a glimpse of heaven 
and won the battle: Entirely master 
of his instrument, he climbs the strings 
agile as the monkeys from his father’s land. 
Ah, Immortality has a new-wrought, 
human face...
May 2009 • £18.99 • ISBN 978 0 393 07008 8 • 224pp • 153 x 229mm
Rita Dove is the Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia and the author of American Smooth, Grace Notes, Mother Love and On the Bus with Rosa Parks.

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