Monday, December 26, 2011

Afro-French Composer Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Born Dec. 25, 1745, Honored With Festival in 2011

[Maestro Marlon Daniel; Un contemporain atypique de Mozart: Le Chevalier de Saint-George; Michelle Garnier-Panafieu; YP Éditions (2011)]

The life, fencing and music of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) are presented at On Dec. 25, 1745, a slave on a Caribbean plantation gave birth to a boy whose father was a French nobleman who owned the plantation. Many children were born on plantations in such circumstances, but young Joseph de Bologne was taken to France and given the education of an aristocrat.  

His boarding school combined academics with first-class training in fencing, and he attended from ages 13 to 19. Joseph showed exceptional talent in fencing, and for a time was considered the best fencer in France. As a young adult he turned to music, first as a violinist and soon after as a composer and conductor as well.

On April 26, 2011 AfriClassical announced the debut of Un contemporain atypique de Mozart (An Atypical Contemporary of Mozart): Le Chevalier de Saint-George, written by Michelle Garnier-Panafieu. The book received its debut on April 27, 2011 as part of the International Saint-Georges Festival in Guadeloupe, where Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges was born. Professor Michelle Garnier-Panafieu is a Musicologist at Université Rennes II.

We were keenly aware of the author's specialized knowledge of the music of Saint-George and his contemporaries. She had written, for example, the lengthy and scholarly liner notes for the Avenira release, Le Chevalier de Saint-George: The Complete Symphonies Concertantes On 2 CDs. We invited Prof. Garnieer-Panafieu to summarize her findings for inclusion on the Saint-Georges page at She graciously did so. The longtime French translator of the Saint-Georges page, Daniel Marciano, offered to translate the summary into English, with the assistance of his American-born wife Carol. The summary can be found at No. 51 in the Table of Contents of the Saint-Georges Biography page.

AfriClassical learned of Un contemporain atypique de Mozart from Jean-Claude Halley, a Guadeloupe resident and blogger who is President of the Saint-Georges Association. It was he who first provided us with access to a lavishly illustrated catalog for an exhibition on Saint-Georges in Guadeloupe. Monsieur Halley has been an invaluable resource ever since. 

The first International Saint-Georges Festival in Guadeloupe was established under applicable law by Jean-Claude Halley, President of the Festival Association, and Catherine Pizon, its Executive Director. Daniel Marciano says of Catherine Pizon: “She is a theatre and music lover and a very efficient artistic director.” Madame Pizon's involvement in theatrical fencing has continued after the Festival.

The American conductor Marlon Daniel was responsible for the music at the Festival. Maestro Daniel was warmly received by those in attendance, including the local press. He is already working on plans for a 2012 Festival.

Violinist and author Gabriel Banat is author of The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow (2006), which we regard as the most authoritative English-language biography of Saint-Georges. This year he launched his own website, as we wrote on Oct. 16, 2011: 

Here are links to some of the other top Saint-Georges stories of 2011:

Jean-Claude Halley announced the book of Prof. Michelle Garnier-Panafieu on April 26, 2011:

A post on April 30, 2011 told of the first performance of OperaCréole, founded in New Orleans by Givonna Joseph:

For many years, the author, writer, playwright and former Professor Daniel Marciano has generously donated translations to the Saint-Georges Biography page and several other pages of On May 15, 2011 we posted about the fencing program at the Festival, which he directed:

We received several press clippings about Maestro Marlon Daniel, as we posted May 14, 2011:

Marlon Daniel was 'Fabulous!' at opening concert of International Saint-Georges Festival April 30

Prof. Michelle Garnier-Panafieu, author of Un contemporain atypique de Mozart, writes a comment in French, which we translate as follows:
Thank you for your initiative and your comments. To provide complete information to your readers, I suggest adding the two concerts given during the International Week of the Saint-Georges Festival. Programs were written by me, laid out by Catherine Pizon and edited by CCSBT.  Here are the two programs:

- April 29, 2011, 8 p.m., Basse-Terre Cathedral: Saint-Georges, Symphony in G Major, Opus 11, 1779; Bortnynansky, Hymn of the Cherubim; Fauré Requiem, Opus 48, 1888. Festival Orchestra and Choir: Marlon Daniel, conductor; Luigi Greco, conductor; Magali Léger, soprano; Paul Gigue, baritone; Koh Gabriel Kameda, violin.

- April 30, 2011, 8:30 p.m., Art'Chipel, From Saint-Georges to Mozart: Lyric Theatre and Instrumental Music. Saint-Georges, extracts from L'Amant anonyme (The Anonymous Lover) and Concerto for Violin, Opus 2, No. 2, 1773; Mozart: Aria for soprano (accompanied by strings, two oboes and two horns): 'Voi avete un cor fedele' K. 217, 1775, and Symphony No. 29 K. 201/186a, 1774. Festival Orchestra conducted by Marlon Daniel; Magali Léger, soprano; Koh Gabriel Kameda, violin.”

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