The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow

The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow

Pendragon Press
March 2006
566 pages
ISBN: 9781576471098

Gabriel Banat

The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, born Joseph Bologne, was the son of an African slave and a French plantation owner on the island of Guadeloupe. The story of his improbable rise in French society, his life as a famous fencer, celebrated violinist-composer and conductor, and later commander of a colored regiment in the French Revolution, should, on the facts alone, gladden the heart of the most passionate romance novelist. Yet, the information disseminated about this illustre inconnu is found in an extravagant nineteenth-century novel, which contains more fiction than fact. Unfortunately, many of the author’s flights of fancy have found their way into serious works about Saint-Georges. Gabriel Banat has set about systematically dispelling the confusion, for the real story is easily as fascinating as any flight of fancy. Gabriel Banat has been a professional violinist all his life; recitalist and member of the New York Philharmonic, he has systematically scoured the violin repertory for interesting and even unknown music. He came across the works of St. Georges and was fascinated by the freshness and charm of these 18th-century compositions. Eventually, he edited a critical edition of all the violin music and, inevitably, began a systematic investigation into the life of this intriguing and multifaceted individual, utilizing archives of the French Land Army, official clippings and untapped personal diaries of St. Georges’ contemporaries. Banat is the author of an authoritative monograph on St. Georges in the Black Music Research Journal.

Gabriel Banat has been a professional violinist all his life: recitalist and member of the New York Philharmonic, he has systematically scoured the violin repertory for interesting and even unknown music. He is the author of an authoritative monograph on St. Georges in the Black Music Research Journal.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xii
Preface xiv
Necrology xviii
Chapter 1 The Island 1
Chapter 2 Joseph 5
Chapter 3 The Trial 12
Chapter 4 A Fugitive Family 22
Chapter 5 The Bologne Plantation 27
Chapter 6 People ¿of Color¿ 37
Chapter 7 Return to France 40
Chapter 8 Paris 46
Chapter 9 The Prodigy 54
Chapter 10 Too Many Blacks 67
Chapter 11 The Chevalier de Saint-Georges 76
Chapter 12 A Young Man About Town 90
Chapter 13 Virtuoso 97
Chapter 14 Gossec 113
Chapter 15 The New Bow 119
Chapter 16 Composions- Quartets and Concertos 125
Chapter 17 Gluck and Marie Antoinette 140
Chapter 18 Concertos andSymphonie Concertantes 159
Chapter 19 TheOpéra Affair 177
Chapter 20 Ernestine 193
Chapter 21 Mme. de Montesson
Chapter 22 Mme. de Montalembert
Chapter 23 L¿Amant Anonyme
Chapter 24 Le Concert des Amateurs
Chapter 25 The Grand Orient of France
Chapter 26 Le Concert Olympique
Chapter 27 Le Palais-Royal
Chapter 28 London
Chapter 29 The Gathering Storm
Chapter 30 The Bastille
Chapter 31 Revolution
Chapter 32 An Orléans Conspiracy?
Chapter 33 Return to London
Chapter 34 Lille
Chapter 35 The National Guard
Chapter 36 La Légion Saint-Georges
Chapter 37 Regicide
Chapter 38 The Great Terror
Chapter 39 Too Many Colonels
Chapter 40 Paris 1795
Chapter 41 Saint Domingue
Chapter 42 Coda-Finale
Epitaphs for those who survived Saint-Georges 456
Appendix: Dramatis Personae
Works List
List of Documents

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1.1 Map of Guadeloupe xix
Fig. 2.1 View of Basse-Terre, ca. 1750 7
Fig. 2.2 ¿Squares¿ of sugar cane, Bailiff 9
Fig. 5.1 Plantation with view on La Suffrière 30
Fig. 7.1 Custom Records of Passengers arriving in Bordeaux, Aug. 2, 1753 41
Fig. 7.2 Port of Bordeaux, 1753 42
Fig. 8.1 Mme. de Pompadour 49
Fig. 8.2 49 rue St. André des Arts today 52
Fig. 10.1 The Saint-Georges Guard 70
Fig. 11.1 Equestrian statue of Louis XV 79
Fig. 11.2 Chamber music at a musical salon 88
Fig. 12.1 ¿Winter¿ from Les quatre saisons 94
Fig. 12.2 The Italian style of fencing 95
Fig. 13.1 One of Les vingt-quatre violons du Roi 99
Fig. 13.2 Leopold Mozart and his two children 107
Fig. 13.3 English Tea in the Salon of the Four Mirrors 108
Fig. 13.4 Portrait of Saint-Georges at 22 111
Fig. 14.1 François Joseph Gossec 114
Fig. 14.2 L¿Hôtel de Soubise 115
Fig. 15.1 Leopold Mozart, 1756 121
Fig. 15.2 The evolution of the bow 122
Fig. 16.1 Title page of Saint-Georges¿ second set of quartets 130
Fig. 17.1 Maria Antoinette at her spinet in Vienna 145
Fig. 17.2 Christoph Willibald Gluck 147
Fig. 17.3 Marie Antoinette in 1777, Versailles 151
Fig. 18.1 George Polgreen Bridgetower 168
Fig. 19.1 La petit loge at the Opéra in the Palais-Royal 179
Fig. 19.2 Mlle.La Guimard in Le Navigateur 185
Fig. 19.3 Papillon de la Ferté 189
Fig. 20.1 Choderlos de Laclos 195
Fig. 20.2 Théatre Italien in 1777 198
Fig. 21.1 Mme. de Genlis 206
Fig. 21.2 Mme. de Montesson 208
Fig. 21.3 The Duke of Orléans and his son 210
Fig. 23.1 Title page of L¿Amant Anonyme 238
Fig. 24.1 Title page of the D¿Ogny catalogue 246
Fig. 24.2 Saint-Georges¿ quartets listed in the D¿Ogny catalogue 247
Fig. 25.1 Philippe, Duke of Chartres with his family 253
Fig. 26.1 Masonic initiation ceremony 260
Fig. 26.2 The Palais-Royal before its reconstruction 262
Fig. 27.1 ¿Prinny,¿ George, Prince of Wales 277
Fig. 27.2 Philippe, Duke of Orléans 278
Fig. 28.1 Henry Angelo 284
Fig. 28.2 Le Chevalier D¿Éon in his uniform 288
Fig. 28.3 Mlle. La Chevalière D¿Éon in 1783 288
Fig. 28.4 Cartoon of St. George and D¿Éon 293
Fig. 28.5 Fencing match at Carlton House 297
Fig. 29.1 Burning of the Opera House, 1781 307
Fig. 29.2 Palais-Royal after reconstruction 308
Fig. 30.1 Mme. de Genlis as ¿Governor¿ of Philippe¿s children 315
Fig. 30.2 Giovanni Baptista Viotti 317
Fig. 30.3 Louis XVI inaugerating the opening session of the Estates-General 320
Fig. 30.4 Desmoulins haranguing the people 324
Fig. 30.5 Fall of the Bastille
Fig. 31.1 Mrs. Grace Dalrymple Elliott 327
Fig. 32.1 March of the Paris Poissardes, 1789 334
Fig. 32.2 Cartoon of Lafayette kicking Philippe 340
Fig. 33.1 Mr. Angelo¿s Fencing Academy 342
Fig. 34.1 Session at the Jacobin Club, Paris, 1792 363
Fig. 35.1 General Dillon¿s body being burned in Lille 368
Fig. 36.1 Hussar of the Légion St. Georges 374
Fig. 36.2 The battle of Jemappes, 1792 378
Fig. 36.3 Trooper of the 13th regiment of the Chasseurs à cheval, 1793 383
Fig. 37.1 Execution of Louis XVI, 1793 386
Fig. 37.2 Bust of General Dumouriez 388
Fig. 37.3 Arrest of the Commissioners and the Minister of War by Dumourez 397
Fig. 38.1 General Thomas Alexandre Dumas 403
Fig. 38.2 Danton on his way to the guillotine 409
Fig. 38.3 The Feast of the Supreme Being 410
Fig. 38.4 ¿The Last Tumbrel¿ 411
Fig. 40.1 Invasion of the Assembly by the Sans-Culottes 428
Fig. 40.2 Post-Thermadorian manners, 1795 432
Fig. 40.3 Theresa Tallien ¿Our Lady of Thermador¿
Fig. 41.1 Toussaint Louverture, c.1800 444
Fig. 41.2 Map of Saint-Domingue 445

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