Monday, December 7, 2009

Europeana Cites George Bridgetower as Proof of African Heritage in Fine Arts

[George Bridgetower (1780-1860); Copyright: The British Museum] says: “This is Europeana - a place for inspiration and ideas. Search through the cultural collections of Europe, connect to other user pathways and share your discoveries.” A “Europeana Promo” on the blog “All In My Head” contains brief biographies of prominent people throughout history, including:

George Bridgetower
Talented Europeans of African descent were making their mark in the capitals of Europe even as the abolition movement was gathering supporters. George Bridgetower [1780-1860] was the Polish-born son of a West Indian servant of the Prince Esterházy, Joseph Haydn’s Hungarian patron. He was a musical prodigy whose talent was quickly spotted, and he made his debut in Paris at the age of 9. One reviewer noted 'his talent is one of the best replies one can give to philosophers who wish to deprive people of his nation and his colour of the opportunity to distinguish themselves in the arts'.”

Dominique-René de Lerma, Professor of Music at Lawrence University Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin has documented the life and music of George Bridgetower in painstaking detail, and has made his work available to Felicia R. Lee of The New York Times published an article, “Poet's Muse: A Footnopte to Beethoven”, in which she reviewed Rita Dove's book of poems on Bridgetower, “Sonata Mullatica,” on April 2, 2009. Ms. Lee cited Prof. DeLerma's biography of George Bridgetower at

“While Bridgetower failed to find a prominent place in the musical canon, his story is nevertheless recorded in the major musical histories, like The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, as well as on Internet sites like and its companion,, which document black contributions to classical music.”

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