May 17, 2021

Joseph Bologne: Recommended Reading & Resources

In advance of our panel discussion Tafel Talks: Joseph Bologne, Black & Classical, here is a collection of further reading and resources that provide valuable context surrounding Bologne’s storied life and his musical contributions to the classical canon. This talk will also broadly explore Blackness in classical music, and the ongoing challenges Black composers and performers are facing today. Some of the resources below offer ways to discover Black classical music history and challenge notions of whiteness in the classical music world.

Do you have a resource you feel should be included in this list? We welcome your input: please email us at info@tafelmusik.org


About Bologne

Chevalier de Saint-Georges
by Charles Jean Robineau

Chevalier de Saint-Georges
by Mather Brown

Portrait of young Sainte-Georges
by Eugène de Beaumont

 

Meet Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges
saintgeorgesfestival.com/AboutSG/AboutSG.html

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), born in Guadeloupe, grew up to become Europe's greatest fencer and an exceptional military leader at the time of the French Revolution, but his true love was music. In 18th century France, he was recognized as a virtuoso violinist, conductor and composer. His operas, concertos, quartets, symphonies and sinfonia concertantes influenced the great composers of his day, including Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
 

"Re-play: Joseph Boulogne – The Chevalier of Music and Revolution" from WQXR
wqxr.org/story/mostly-mozart-evening-broadcast-joseph-boulogne

This 45 minute radio episode takes a look at the life and work of Joseph Bologne. Hosted by Terrance McKnight, the program includes a conversation with Marlon Daniel, Artistic and Music Director of the Saint-Georges International Music Festival, and also the moderator of our Tafel Talks: Joseph Bologne, Black & Classical event; Lady Jess, violinist and Co-Artistic Director of the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra; and Bill Barclay, the Artistic Director of Concert Theatre Works and former Director of Music at Shakespeare’s Globe.
 

Fencing & Bow Technique
wbur.org/onlyagame/2019/03/15/chevalier-saint-georges-france-fencing

"There’s something about bow technique and fencing that have something in common that he obviously had an amazing skill for": in this short audio documentary from WBUR, hear from our Music Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon, and others, on Joseph Bologne's fencing career—and how it intersected with his storied legacy as a composer.
 

Deconstructing the “Black Mozart” Moniker 
nytimes.com/2020/07/22/arts/music/black-mozart-joseph-boulogne.html

In this insightful article from The New York Times, contemporary classical composer Marcos Balter addresses why the nickname "Black Mozart" — which has often been used in place of the composer Joseph Bologne's name — is problematic and contributes to the erasure of Bologne and his legacy.

 

Black & Classical

Black Musicians in Early Music
earlymusicamerica.org/event/black-musicians-in-early-music-a-panel-discussion

Early Music America and The Handel + Haydn Society present a Black History Month conversation with leading Black musicians in the field of early music and historical performance practice. Featuring panelists Joseph McHardy, Reginald Mobley, Patricia Ann Neely, Rachel Redmond, and Jonathan Woody
 

Black Musicians Creating Community
yesmagazine.org/health-happiness/2020/10/14/black-classical-musicians-community

In a field historically dominated by white performers, composers, and creators, learn more about how Black classical musicians are finding ways to connect with each other and make sure they’re heard.
 

Systemic Racism in Classical Music
sfcv.org/articles/feature/last-water-fountain-struggle-against-systemic-racism-classical-music

Through a series of interviews with black musicians, Mark MacNamara explores “the last water fountain” of American orchestras, their lack of representation on stage, and the ongoing barriers to success facing many young black musicians.
 

Confronting White Supremacy in Classical Music
newyorker.com/magazine/2020/09/21/black-scholars-confront-white-supremacy-in-classical-music

"The field must acknowledge a history of systemic racism while also giving new weight to Black composers, musicians, and listeners": In this New Yorker piece, hear a critical take on Black scholars taking on white supremacy in classical music.
 

Meet the Panelists of Tafel Talks: Joseph Bologne, Black & Classical

On Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at 7pm EDT, we are hosting Tafel Talks: Joseph Bologne, Black & Classical. This conversation will explore the music, life, and legacy of the influential Black violinist and composer, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Our panel of contributors from New York, Nassau, and Toronto will unpack Bologne’s significance within past and current contexts and discuss the impact of systemic racism in music history. 

In this post, get to know the panelists and moderators of this event. 

Joseph Bologne