(No. 16 of the Black Composers series)
Joseph Bologne (1745-1799) was born on the island of Guadalupe to an enslaved woman and a French plantation owner. The family moved to France when Joseph was six years old. At age 13, he began fencing lessons and quickly became one of the most famous swordsmen in Europe, which led to his being granted the title Chevalier de Saint-Georges, by which he was known from then on. He had also started his musical studies at a young age, but didn't become truly serious about it until his 20s, when he studied privately with the well-known French composer Joseph-François Gossec. Saint-Georges' prowess at the violin earned him the position of concertmaster in Gossec's orchestra, and he made his solo debut at age 27 with performances of his first two violin concerti with Gossec. Saint-Georges was a highly influential composer. He was one of the first composers in France to write string quartets, and his symphonies concertantes inspired Mozart. In 1781, Saint-Georges founded his own orchestra, which soon premiered Haydn's six Paris Symphonies. During the French revolution, Saint-Georges served as a colonel in the National Guard, but he continued composing and conducting throughout his life.
This arrangement is the theme from Saint-Georges' theme and variations structured Sonata No. 4, for two violins.