Friday, February 17, 2012

ART WORKS: Poet Rita Dove discusses George Bridgetower, subject of book of poems, 'Sonata Mulattica'

[Poet/author Rita Dove with President Barack Obama at the National Medal of the Arts ceremony on February 13, 2012. Photo by Anthony Brown, Imigination Photography]

We present an excerpt from the Transcript of Rita Dove, from ART WORKS, the Podcast of the National Endowment of the Arts:

Art Works Podcast with Rita Dove

Thursday, February 16th, 2012
By Josephine Reed

Rita Dove:
George Bridgetower was a prodigy mixed race violinist who was born in 1780, lived full 80 years actually, and his claim to fame or the fame that was meant to be his and then wasn’t really, was that he had gone to Vienna as a young man in his twenties, met Beethoven and Beethoven composed a sonata for him, a violin sonata, which he premiered with Beethoven at the piano, and Beethoven had dedicated to him. And then they got into an argument over a girl. That’s all we know. And Beethoven destroyed the dedication and what we know is the “Kreutzer Sonata” really should’ve been called the “Bridgetower Sonata.” But what fascinated me about the story was that there was this mixed race person who lived and thrived during this time in England and in Vienna, all across Europe. His father called himself an African prince. His mother was born somewhere near modern day Poland. And my question was, “How did he come to be and how did he live and why don’t we know any more about him?” And that began my quest.  [George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1780-1860) is featured at on a page researched and written by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,]

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