Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Gabriel Banat, Saint-Georges Biographer, on Calliope CD

Gabriel Banat, former First Violin of the New York Philharmonic, is the author of “The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow”, published by Pendragon Press in New York in 2006. He has reviewed the cover and liner notes of the CD “Monsieur de Saint-George: 4 Concertos pour violon”, Les Archets de Paris, Calliope 9373 (2007), at the website of

Crude cover upsetting admirers of first classical black composer, 29 Aug 2007

I am sorry to note that any discussion of the musical qualities of the Calliope CD containing previously recorded concertos of the Chevalier (sic) of Saint-Georges, is immaterial, given the negative reaction to the crude cartoonlike depiction of the first black classical composer, by his many admirers. As the author of the recent English biography of the composer, "The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow" (New York, Pendragon Press, June, 2006), I am getting e-mails from musicians and musicologists, both black and white, communicating their shock at the insulting cover of the album. While I share their feelings, having spent years in the Paris and overseas archives searching out documents of Saint-Georges' life, I need to point out that the author of the Calliope CD's liner notes, either ignorant of recent findings on the subject or else misled by Alain Guédé's sadly misinformed book, repeats the errors dating back to 19th century fiction. He gives him the wrong birth year, mispells his family name, (saddling him with the wrong father) and pointedly calls him "Monsieur," thus unjustly divesting this black Gendarme of the King of France of his legitimate, amply documented right to his title of Chevalier. I reiterate that my critique concerns only the cover of the CD, not it's musical content.
Gabriel Banat

No comments: