Saturday, January 26, 2008

New York Times On Gabriel Banat, Biographer of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799)

A Swashbuckling Violinist, Fresh From the 1700s
By Roberta Hershenson
Published January 6, 2008
Dobbs Ferry

ONE of the most fascinating figures of the 18th century was the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a composer, violinist, fencing champion and military hero whose fame spanned continents. That he was black, born in 1745 to a white planter and his slave mistress in Guadeloupe, not only shaped his life in France but has fed a growing interest in him today.

Though Saint-Georges’s life reads like a Hollywood screenplay, it was his musical talent that most interested Gabriel Banat, a concert violinist and musicologist whose biography, “The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow,” was published by Pendragon Press in 2006.

“He’s not a Mozart, but his innovative violin technique makes him a bridge between Italian virtuosos like Vivaldi and Locatelli and Beethoven in his violin writing,” Mr. Banat said in an interview in his home here. “He did a lot for the violin in bringing Italian virtuoso technique to the great masters.”

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