Saturday, June 29, 2019 June is Black Music Month [Chevalier de Saint-Georges]

Post News Group

Tamara Shiloh

June 28, 2019

Black music has profoundly influenced the lives of all Americans. It is the sound that continues to bring all cultures together. While there is much focus on the history of rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, hip-hop, and rap, few know that African Americans have also successfully performed classical and concert music.

Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges, considered the first classical composer of African origins, was known as Le Mozart Noir (the Black Mozart). Born in 1745, his career included string quartets, symphonies and concertos. He was a champion fencer, classical composer, virtuoso violinist, and conductor of France’s leading symphony orchestra: Le Concert des Amateurs.

Mozart, at that time, was struggling for professional recognition, resenting Saint-Georges’ success. Reportedly, Mozart not only used one of Saint-Georges’ pieces in his Sinfonia Concertante, but also used his fury to create the evil Black character, Monostatos, in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute.

According to the Independent, “Saint-Georges was exotic, brilliant, established … close to the Queen … Mozart was not. He led one of the best orchestras in Europe while Mozart’s symphonies received inferior performances … Mozart had every reason to be jealous.”

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