Chevalier de Saint-Georges

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Chevalier de Saint-Georges.JPG
Saint-Georges, posing with his fencing rapier, by Mather Brown, 1787
Born(1745-12-25)December 25, 1745
DiedJune 10, 1799(1799-06-10) (aged 53)
Paris, France
Alma materAcadémie royale polytechnique des armes et de l'équitation

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (December 25, 1745 – June 10, 1799),[1] was a French Creole virtuoso violinist and composer, who was conductor of the leading symphony orchestra in Paris.

Saint-Georges was born in the then-French colony of Guadeloupe, the son of Georges de Bologne Saint-Georges, a wealthy married planter, and an enslaved Senegalese African woman named Nanon. At the age of seven he was taken to France, and at the age of thirteen educated as gendarme to the King. He received music lessons from François-Joseph Gossec and likely violin lessons from Jean-Marie Leclair, while continuing to study fencing.

In 1764 Antonio Lolli dedicated two concertos to Saint-Georges. In 1769 he joined a new symphony orchestra; two years later he was appointed concertmaster and soon started composing. In 1773 he was appointed conductor of "Le Concert des Amateurs". In 1775 he introduced the symphonie concertante, using the possibilities offered by a new bow. In 1776 he was proposed as the next conductor of the Paris Opera but was subsequently denied this role by a petition by the divas of the time to the Queen.[2] This then put an end to any aspirations that Saint-Georges had to become the music director of the institution. In 1778 he lived for 2.5 months next to Mozart in the Chaussee d'Antin and stopped composing instrumental works in 1785. He knew many composers, including Salieri, Gossec, Gretry, Mozart and Gluck. He commissioned and performed the Paris Symphonies by Haydn and travelled to London where he met with the Prince of Wales and George III in 1787.[3]

Following the 1789 outbreak of the French Revolution, the younger Saint-Georges served as a colonel of the Légion St.-Georges[4] (established in 1792), the first all-black regiment in Europe, fighting on the side of the French First Republic. Today the Chevalier de Saint-Georges is best remembered as the first well-known classical composer of African ancestry. He composed numerous string quartets and other instrumental pieces, violin concertos as well as operas. Ludwig van Beethoven held his music and his views very highly.

Early life[edit]

1780 Raynal and Bonne Map of Guadeloupe, West Indies

Joseph Bologne was born in Baillif, Basse-Terre as the son of a planter and former councillor at the parliament of Metz, Georges de Bologne Saint-Georges [fr] (1711–1774) and Nanon, his wife's 16-year-old enslaved African servant of Senegalese origin, who served as her personal maid.[5] Bologne was legally married to Elisabeth Mérican (1722–1801) but acknowledged his son by Nanon and gave him his surname.[6][7][8]

His father, called "de Saint-Georges" after one of his plantations in Guadeloupe, was a commoner until 1757, when he acquired the title of Gentilhomme ordinaire de la chambre du roi (Gentleman of the King's Chamber).[9] The younger Saint-Georges was ineligible under French law for titles of nobility due to his African mother.[10] Starting in the 17th century, a Code Noir had been the law in France and its colonial possessions. On April 5, 1762, King Louis XV decreed that "Nègres et gens de couleur" (blacks and people of color) must register with the clerk of the Admiralty within two months.[11] Many leading Enlightenment thinkers like Voltaire argued that Africans and their descendants were inferior to White Europeans.[12] These laws and racist attitudes towards mixed-race people made it impossible for Joseph Bologne to marry anybody at his level of society, though he did have at least one serious romantic relationship.[13]

(Misled by Roger de Beauvoir's 1840 romantic novel Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges,[14] most of his biographers confused Joseph's father with Jean de Boullonges, Controller-General of Finances between 1757 and 1759. This led to the erroneous spelling of Saint-Georges' family name as "Boulogne", persisting to this day, even in records in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.)

Detail from Passenger List of Le Bien- Aimé, showing St. Georges and his son, "mulatto" J'h (Joseph) landing in France on August 7, 1753

In 1753, his father took Joseph, aged seven, to France for his education, installed him in a boarding school, and returned to Guadeloupe.[15] Two years later, on August 26, 1755, listed as passengers on the ship L'Aimable Rose, Bologne de Saint-Georges and his favorite Nanon landed in Bordeaux.[16] In Paris, reunited with their son Joseph, they moved into a spacious apartment in the 6th Arrondissement at 49 rue Saint André des Arts.[17][18]

At the age of 13, Joseph was enrolled by his father in a fencing school run by Tessier de La Boëssière's [fr]. "At 15 his [Bologne's] progress was so rapid, that he was already beating the best swordsmen, and at 17 he developed the greatest speed imaginable."[19] Bologne was still a student when he beat Alexandre Picard, a fencing master in Rouen, who had been mocking him as "Boëssière's mulatto", in public. That match, bet on heavily by a public divided into partisans and opponents of slavery, was an important coup for Bologne. His father, proud of his feat, rewarded Joseph with a handsome horse and buggy.[20] In 1766 on graduating from the Royal Polytechnique Academy, Bologne was made a Gendarme du roi (officer of the king's bodyguard) and a chevalier.[21] Henceforth Joseph Bologne, by adopting the suffix of his father, would be known as the "Chevalier de Saint-Georges". As an illegitimate son, he was ineligible to inherit his father's title.

In 1764, at the end of the Seven Years' War, Georges Bologne returned to Guadeloupe to look after his plantations. The following year, he made a last will and testament where he left Joseph an annuity of 8,000 francs and an adequate pension to Nanon, who remained with their son in Paris.[20] When his father died in 1774 in Guadeloupe, he awarded his annuity to his legitimate daughter, Elisabeth Benedictine.

Long before her death, Saint-Georges's mother would also record a testamentary deed dated June 18, 1778, in which she gives and bequeaths all her belongings. However, according to biographer Pierre Bardin, she signed "Anne Danneveau," and refers to her son as "Mr De Boulonge St-George," reflecting her desire to distance herself from her son thus further conceal Saint-Georges's African origins.[22]

According to Bologne's friend, Louise Fusil: "... admired for his fencing and riding prowess, he served as a model to young sportsmen ... who formed a court around him."[23] A fine dancer, Saint-Georges was also invited to balls and welcomed in the salons (and boudoirs) of highborn ladies. "Partial for the music of liaisons where amour had real meaning... he loved and was loved."[24] Yet he continued to fence daily in the various salles of Paris. There he met Domenico and son Henry Angelo, fencing masters from London; the mysterious Chevalier d'Éon; and the teenage Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, all of whom would play a role in his future.

Late life[edit]

During his time at the opera and before the revolution, Saint-Georges became the darling of many women in the salons and drawing rooms of Paris society. As was often said, 'he loved and was loved.' One potential suitor of his was the esteemed dancer Marie-Madeleine Guimard, whose advances he declined.[25] Having been spurned, and with great influence in the Queen's court, La Guimard would come to play a pivotal role in the petition that would deny Joseph's ambition to become the director of the Paris Opera from ever coming to fruition.[26]

Arguably, the love of his life was Marie-Josephine de Montalembert, a talented society actress. The wife of a much older general of military engineering in the Queen's Court (Marc René, marquis de Montalembert), Marie-Josephine was drawn to the young composer.[27] The affair was later discovered and consequently upended, but not before she bore him a child. The infant was taken from Marie-Josephine and sent by her husband to a nearby village to essentially die; the disgrace that was brought to the marquis was then hidden away.[28] According to noted biographer Gabriel Banat, "Saint-Georges mourned the loss of one who was most likely his greatest love and the death of the son he never saw" (p 231 of The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and Bow).[29]

Saint-Georges's later life was deeply affected by the revolution. Since he was of mixed race, Saint-Georges was affected by the racism and racist laws in pre-Revolutionary France. On August 26, 1789, when the revolution declared equal rights to all French people, Saint-Georges embraced the new law and decided to provide his services to the Revolutionary Army. In June 1791, the Parliament recruited volunteers from the entire French National Guard. Saint-Georges was the first person to sign in Lille. He still participated in music events when he was free.[citation needed]

On September 7, 1792, the Parliament established a light cavalry consisting of volunteers from the West Indies and Africa. The name of it was "Légion franche de cavalerie des Américains et du Midi", but it was later often referred to as "Légion St-Georges" because of the outstanding performance of Colonel Saint-Georges. In the early 1790s, due to the little effect Legion had, St. Georges was condemned by critics for being involved in non-revolutionary activities such as music events, and was dismissed and imprisoned for 18 months. Despite the support given by his soldiers and lower-level cadres, he was released but did not resume command after the appeal and was banned from dealing with his former comrades. Saint-Georges returned to St Domingue for a while. However, there was a fierce civil war  between the revolutionaries and royalists. St. Georges was very disappointed with St-Domingue and returned to France. In 1797, he tried to join the army again and signed his petition "Georges". St. Georges wrote:[citation needed]

"I continue to show loyalty to the revolution. Since the beginning of the war, I have been serving with relentless enthusiasm, but the persecution I suffered has not diminished. I have no other resources, only to restore my original position."[30] However, his application failed again.[citation needed]

On June 10, 1799, Saint-Georges died of gangrene.[citation needed]

Musical life and career[edit]

François-Joseph Gossec

Nothing is known about Saint-Georges' early musical training. Given his prodigious technique as an adult, Saint-Georges must have practiced the violin seriously as a child. There has been no documentation found of him as a musician before 1764, when violinist Antonio Lolli composed two concertos, Op. 2, for him,[note 1] and 1766, when composer François-Joseph Gossec dedicated a set of six string trios, Op. 9,[32] to Saint Georges. Lolli may have worked with Bologne on his violin technique and Gossec on compositions.

(Beauvoir's novel says that "Platon", a fictional whip-toting slave commander on Saint-Domingue, "taught little Saint-Georges" the violin.[note 2])

Historians have discounted François-Joseph Fétis' claim that Saint-Georges studied violin with Jean-Marie Leclair. Some of his technique was said to reveal influence by Pierre Gaviniès. Other composers who later dedicated works to Saint-Georges were Carl Stamitz in 1770,[34] and Avolio in 1778.[35]

In 1769, the Parisian public was amazed to see Saint-Georges, the great fencer, playing as a violinist in Gossec's new orchestra, Le Concert des Amateurs. Four years later he became its concertmaster/conductor.[36] In 1772 Saint-Georges created a sensation with his debut as a soloist, playing his first two violin concertos, Op. II, with Gossec conducting the orchestra. "These concertos were performed last winter at a concert of the Amateurs by the author himself, who received great applause as much for their performance as for their composition."[37] According to another source, "The celebrated Saint-Georges, mulatto fencer [and] violinist, created a sensation in Paris ... [when] two years later ... at the Concert Spirituel, he was appreciated not as much for his compositions as for his performances, enrapturing especially the feminine members of his audience."[38]

Young Saint-Georges in 1768, aged 22. The three roses on his lapel were a Masonic symbol.

Saint-Georges's first composition, Op. I, were a set of six string quartets, among the first in France, published by famed French publisher, composer, and teacher Antoine Bailleux.[39] They were inspired by Haydn's earliest quartets, brought from Vienna by Baron Bagge. Saint-Georges wrote two more sets of six string quartets, three forte-piano and violin sonatas, a sonata for harp and flute, and six violin duets. The music for three other known compositions was lost: a cello sonata, performed in Lille in 1792, a concerto for clarinet, and one for bassoon.

Saint-Georges wrote twelve additional violin concertos, two symphonies, and eight symphonie-concertantes, a new, intrinsically Parisian genre of which he was one of the chief exponents. He wrote his instrumental works over a short span of time, and they were published between 1771 and 1779. He also wrote six opéras comiques and a number of songs in the manuscript.

In 1773, when Gossec took over the direction of the prestigious Concert Spirituel, he designated Saint-Georges as his successor as director of the Concert des Amateurs. After fewer than two years under the younger man's direction, the group was described[by whom?] as "Performing with great precision and delicate nuances [and] became the best orchestra for symphonies in Paris, and perhaps in all of Europe."[40][26][note 3]

Palais de Soubise, venue of Saint-Georges' orchestra

In 1781, Saint Georges's Concert des Amateurs had to be disbanded due to a lack of funding. Playwright and Secret du Roi spy Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais began to collect funds from private contributors, including many of the Concert's patrons, to send materiel aid for the American cause. The plan to send military aid via a fleet of fifty vessels and have those vessels return with American rice, cotton, or tobacco ended up bankrupting the French contributors as the American congress failed to acknowledge its debt and the ships were sent back empty.[41] Saint-Georges turned to his friend and admirer, Philippe D'Orléans, duc de Chartres, for help. In 1773 at the age of 26, Philippe had been elected Grand Master of the 'Grand Orient de France' after uniting all the Masonic organizations in France. Responding to Saint-Georges's plea, Philippe revived the orchestra as part of the Loge Olympique, an exclusive Freemason Lodge.[42]

Renamed Le Concert Olympique, with practically the same personnel, it performed in the grand salon of the Palais Royal.[43] In 1785, Count D'Ogny, grand master of the Lodge and a member of its cello section, authorized Saint-Georges to commission Haydn to compose six new symphonies for the Concert Olympique. Conducted by Saint-Georges, Haydn's "Paris" symphonies were first performed at the Salle des Gardes-Suisses of the Tuileries, a much larger hall, in order to accommodate the huge public demand to hear Haydn's new works.[44] Queen Marie Antoinette attended some of Saint-Georges's concerts at the Palais de Soubise, arriving sometimes without notice, so the orchestra wore court attire for all its performances.[17] "Dressed in rich velvet or damask with gold or silver braid and fine lace on their cuffs and collars and with their parade swords and plumed hats placed next to them on their benches, the combined effect was as pleasing to the eye as it was flattering to the ear."[45] Saint-Georges played all his violin concertos as a soloist with his orchestra.


Charlotte-Jeanne Béraud de la Haie de Riou, marquise de Montesson, after Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Le Brun

In 1776 the Académie royale de musique, the Paris Opéra, was struggling financially and artistically. Saint-Georges was proposed as the next director of the opera. As creator of the first disciplined French orchestra since Lully, he was the obvious choice. But, according to Baron von Grimm's Correspondance litteraire, philosophique et critique, three of the Opéra's leading ladies "... presented a placet (petition) to the Queen [Marie Antoinette] assuring Her Majesty that their honor and delicate conscience could never allow them to submit to the orders of a mulatto."[26]

To keep the affair from embarrassing the queen, Saint-Georges withdrew his name from consideration. Meanwhile, to defuse the brewing scandal, Louis XVI took the Opéra back from the city of Paris – ceded to it by Louis XIV a century before – to be managed by his Intendant of Light Entertainments. Following the "affair", Marie-Antoinette preferred to hold her musicales in the salon of her petit Appartement de la reine in Versailles. She limited the audience to her intimate circle and a few musicians, among them the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. "Invited to play music with the Queen,"[46] Saint-Georges probably played his violin sonatas, with Her Majesty playing the forte-piano.

The singers' placet may have ended Saint-Georges's aspirations to higher positions as a musician. But, over the next two years, he published two more violin concertos and a pair of his Symphonies concertantes. Thereafter, except for his final set of quartets (Op. 14, 1785), Saint-Georges abandoned composing instrumental music in favor of opera.

Ernestine, Saint-Georges's first opera, with a libretto by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, future author of Les Liaisons dangereuses, was performed on July 19, 1777, at the Comédie-Italienne. It did not survive its premiere. The critics liked the music, but panned the weak libretto, which was then usually given precedence over the music.[47][failed verification] The Queen attended with her entourage. She came to support Saint-Georges's opera but, after the audience kept echoing a character cracking his whip and crying "Ohé, Ohé," the Queen gave it the coup de grace by calling to her driver: "to Versailles, Ohé!"[48]

Hôtel de Montesson by Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart, built after 1769 for Mme de Montesson.[49][50]

After the failure of the opera, the Marquise de Montesson, morganatic wife of the Duc d'Orléans, realized her ambition to engage Saint-Georges as music director of her fashionable private theater. He was glad to gain a position that entitled him to an apartment in the ducal mansion on the Chaussée d'Antin. After Mozart's mother died in Paris, the composer was allowed to stay at the mansion for a period with Melchior Grimm, who, as personal secretary of the Duke, lived in the mansion. Mozart and Saint-Georges lived from 5 July to 11 September 1778 under the same roof at Madame de Montesson.[51] The Duc d'Orléans appointed Saint-Georges as Lieutenant de la chasse of his vast hunting grounds at Raincy, with an additional salary of 2000 Livres a year. "Saint-Georges the mulatto so strong, so adroit, was one of the hunters..."[52]

Saint-Georges wrote and rehearsed his second opera, appropriately named La Chasse at Raincy. At its premiere in the Théâtre Italien, "The public received the work with loud applause. Vastly superior compared with Ernestine ... there is every reason to encourage him to continue [writing operas]."[53] La Chasse was performed at her Majesty's request at the royal chateau at Marly.[54] Saint-Georges's most successful opéra comique was L'Amant anonyme, with a libretto based on a play by Madame de Genlis.[note 4]

Chevalier de St-Georges by Abbé Alexandre-Auguste Robineau

In 1785, the Duke of Orléans died. The Marquise de Montesson, his morganatic wife, having been forbidden by the King to mourn him, shuttered their mansion, closed her theater, and retired to a convent near Paris. With his patrons gone, Saint-Georges lost not only his positions, but also his apartment. His friend, Philippe, now Duke of Orléans, presented him with a small flat in the Palais- Royal. Living in the Palais, Saint-Georges was drawn into the whirlpool of political activity around Philippe, the new leader of the Orléanist party, the main opposition to the absolute monarchy.

Meanwhile the Duke's ambitious plans for re-constructing the Palais-Royal left the Orchestre Olympique without a home and Saint-Georges unemployed. Seeing his protégé at loose ends and recalling that the Prince of Wales often expressed a wish to meet the legendary fencer, Philippe approved Brissot's plan to dispatch Saint-Georges to London. He believed it was a way to ensure the Regent-in-waiting's support of Philippe as future "Regent" of France. But Brissot had a secret agenda as well. He considered Saint-Georges, a "man of color", the ideal person to contact his fellow abolitionists in London and ask their advice about Brissot's plans for Les Amis des Noirs (Friends of the Blacks) modelled on the English anti-slavery movement.[55]

London and Lille[edit]

Fencing Match between St.-Georges and 'La chevalière d'Éon' at Carlton House on April 9, 1787, by Abbé Alexandre-Auguste Robineau
Henry Angelo, Saint-Georges' friend

In London, Saint-Georges stayed with fencing masters Domenico Angelo and Henry, his son, whom he knew as an apprentice from early years in Paris. They arranged exhibition matches for him, including one at Carlton House, before the Prince of Wales.[56] After sparring with him, carte and tierce, the prince matched Saint-Georges with several renowned masters. One included La Chevalière D'Éon, aged 59, in a voluminous black dress. A painting by Abbé Alexandre-Auguste Robineau, violinist-composer and painter, showed the Prince and his entourage watching Mlle D'Éon score a hit on Saint-Georges, giving rise to rumours that the Frenchman allowed it out of gallantry for a lady.[57] But, as Saint-Georges had fenced with dragoon Captain d'Éon in Paris, he probably was deferring to her age. Saint-Georges played one of his concertos at the Anacreontic Society.[58] He also delivered Brissot's request to the abolitionists MPs William Wilberforce, John Wilkes, and the Reverend Thomas Clarkson. Before Saint-Georges left England, Mather Brown painted his portrait. Asked by Mrs Angelo if it was a true likeness, Saint-Georges replied: "Alas, Madame it is frightfully so."[59]

Palais-Royal 1788. Note le Théatre Beaujolais in the center

Back in Paris, he completed and produced his latest opéra comique, La Fille Garçon, at the Théâtre des Italiens. The critics found the libretto wanting. "The piece, [was] sustained only by the music of Monsieur de Saint Georges... The success he obtained should serve as encouragement to continue enriching this theatre with his productions."[60]

Meanwhile, having nearly completed reconstruction of the Palais-Royale, the Duke had opened several new theaters. The smallest was the Théâtre Beaujolais, a marionette theater for children, named after his youngest son, the duc de Beaujolais. The lead singers of the Opéra provided the voices for the puppets. Saint-Georges wrote the music of Le Marchand de Marrons (The Chestnut Vendor) for this theater, with a libretto by Madame de Genlis, Philippe's former mistress and then confidential adviser.

Watercolor of Henry Angelo's Fencing Academy, by Thomas Rowlandson, 1787. The Chevalier St. George's portrait, foils, and fencing shoes are displayed on the right wall.

While Saint-Georges was away, the Concert Olympique had resumed performing at the Hôtel de Soubise, the old hall of the Amateurs. The Italian violinist Jean-Baptiste Viotti had been appointed as conductor.[45] Disenchanted, Saint-Georges, together with the talented young singer Louise Fusil, and his friend, the horn virtuoso Lamothe, embarked on a brief concert tour in the North of France. On May 5, 1789, the opening day of the fateful Estates General, Saint-Georges, seated in the gallery with Laclos, heard Jacques Necker, Louis XVI's minister of finance, saying, "The slave trade is a barbarous practice and must be eliminated."

Choderlos de Laclos, who replaced Brissot as Philippe's chief of staff, intensified Brissot's campaign to promote Philippe as an alternative to the monarchy. Concerned by its success, Louis dispatched Philippe on a bogus mission to London. On July 14, 1789, the fall of the Bastille took place, starting the Revolution, and Philippe, Duke of Orléans, missed his chance to save the monarchy.

Portrait of George IV as Prince of Wales in 1785 by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Saint-Georges, sent ahead to London by Laclos, stayed at Grenier's. This hotel in Jermyn Street became patronised by French refugees. Saint-Georges was entertaining himself lavishly.[61] Without salaries, he must have depended on Philippe. His assignment was to stay close to the Prince of Wales. As soon as Saint-Georges arrived, the Prince took the composer to his Marine Pavilion in Brighton. He also took him fox hunting and to the races at Newmarket. But when Philippe arrived, he became the Prince's regular companion. Saint-Georges was relieved to be free of the Prince.[62][section needs rewriting]

St. Georges backed up by "Mlle" d'Éon boxing with Col. Hanger and the Prince of Wales

On a trip to London, when Saint-Georges passed Brissot's request to the British abolitionists, they complied by translating their literature into French for his fledgling Société des amis des Noirs. Saint-Georges met with them again, this time on his own account. "Early in July, walking home from Greenwich, a man armed with a pistol demanded his purse. The Chevalier disarmed the man... but when four more rogues hidden until then attacked him, he put them all out of commission. M. de Saint Georges received only some contusions which did not keep him from going on that night to play music in the company of friends."[63] The nature of the attack, with four attackers emerging after the first one made sure they had the right victim, has been claimed to be an assassination attempt disguised as a hold-up, arranged by the "Slave Trade" to put an end to his abolitionist activities.[64]

A cartoon of the Chevalier fencing with Colonel Hanger captioned "St. George & the Dragon" appeared in the Morning Post on April 12, 1789.

Philippe, Duke of Orleans by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1785.

In late June, Philippe, dubbed "The Red Duke" in London, realized that his "mission" there was a ruse used by the French king to get him out of the country. He amused himself with the Prince, horse racing, young women and champagne.[65] Philippe clung to a vague promise made by King Louis to make him Regent of the Southern Netherlands. But the Belgians wanted a Republic, and rejected Philippe. Saint-Georges headed back to France.

"On Thursday, July 8, 1790, in Lille's municipal ballroom, the famous Saint-Georges was the principal antagonist in a brilliant fencing tournament. Though ill, he fought with that grace which is his trademark. Lightning is no faster than his arms and in spite of running a fever, he demonstrated astonishing vigor."[66] Two days later looking worse but in need of funds, he offered another assault, this one for the officers of the garrison. But his illness proved so serious that it sent him to bed for six long weeks.[67] The diagnosis according to medical science at the time was "brain fever" (probably meningitis). Unconscious for days, he was taken in and nursed by some kind citizens of Lille. While still bedridden, deeply grateful to the people who were caring for him, Saint-Georges began to compose an opera for Lille's theater company. [objective tone needed]Calling it Guillome tout Coeur, ou les amis du village, he dedicated it to the citizens of Lille. "Guillaume is an opera in one act. ...The music by Saint-George is full of sweet warmth of motion and spirit...Its [individual] pieces distinguished by their melodic lines and the vigor of their harmony. The public...made the hall resound with its justly deserved applause."[67] It was to be his last opera, lost, including its libretto.

Louise Fusil, who had idolized Saint-Georges since she was a girl of 15, wrote: "In 1791, I stopped in Amiens where St. Georges and Lamothe were waiting for me, committed to give some concerts over the Easter holidays. We were to repeat them in Tournai. But the French refugees assembled in that town just across the border, could not abide the Créole they believed to be an agent of the despised Duke of Orléans. St. Georges was even advised [by its commandant] not to stop there for long."[68] According to a report by a local newspaper: "The dining room of the hotel where St. Georges, a citizen of France, was also staying, refused to serve him, but he remained perfectly calm; remarkable for a man with his means to defend himself."[69]

Louise describes the scenario of Saint-Georges' "Love and Death of the Poor Little Bird", a programmatic piece for violin alone, which he was constantly entreated to play especially by the ladies. Its three parts depicted the little bird greeting the spring; passionately pursuing the object of his love, who alas, has chosen another; its voice grows weaker then, after the last sigh, it is stilled forever. This kind of program music or sound painting of scenarios such as love scenes, tempests, or battles complete with cannonades and the cries of the wounded, conveyed by a lone violin, was by that time nearly forgotten. Saint-Georges must have had fun inventing it as he went along. Louise places his improvisational style on a par with her subsequent musical idol, Hector Berlioz: "We did not know then this expressive ...depiction a dramatic scene, which Mr. Berlioz later revealed to us... making us feel an emotion that identifies us with the subject." Curiously, some of Saint-Georges' biographers are still looking for its score, but Louise's account leaves no doubt that it belonged to the lost art of spontaneous improvisation.[70][71]

Tired of politics yet faithful to his ideals, St. Georges decided to serve the Revolution, directly. With 50,000 Austrian troops massed on its borders, the first citizen's army in modern history was calling for volunteers. In 1790, having recovered from his illness, Saint-Georges was one of the first in Lille to join its Garde Nationale.[note 5] But not even his military duties in the Garde Nationale could prevent St. Georges from giving concerts. Once again he was building an orchestra which, according to the announcement in the paper, "Will give a concert every week until Easter."[72] At the conclusion of the last concert, the mayor of Lille placed a crown of laurels on St. Georges' brow and read a poem dedicated to him.[73]

On April 20, 1792, compelled by the National Assembly, Louis XVI declared war against his brother-in-law, Francis II.[74] General Dillon, commander of Lille, was ordered by Dumouriez to attack Tournai, reportedly only lightly defended. Instead, massive fire by the Austrian artillery turned an orderly retreat into a rout by the regular cavalry but not that of the volunteers of the National Guard.[75] Captain St. Georges, promoted in 1791,[76] commanded the company of volunteers that held the line at Baisieux near the Belgian border. On 18 May, "M. St. Georges took charge of the music for a solemn requiem held [in Lille] for the souls of those who perished for their city on the fateful day of the 29 of April last."[77]


In Saint-Domingue, the news from abroad that the "whites of La France had risen up and killed their masters", spread among the black slaves of the island. "The rebellion was extremely violent ... the rich plain of the North was reduced to ruins and ashes ..."[78] After months of arson and murder, Toussaint Louverture, a Haitian revolutionary, took charge of the slave revolt. In the Spring of 1796, a commission with 15,000 troops and tons of arms sailed for Saint-Domingue to abolish slavery. Second to Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, leader of the commission, was Julien Raimond, the founder of Saint-Georges's Légion.

According to Louise Fusil, Saint Georges and his friend Lamothe had been absent from Paris for nearly two years. "I since learned that they had left for Saint-Domingue, then in full revolt; it was rumoured they had been hanged in a mutiny. I gave them up for dead and mourned them with all my heart, when one day, as I sat in the Palais Royal with a friend absorbed in a magazine ... I looked up and screamed, thinking I saw ghosts. They were Lamothe and Saint Georges who, clowning, sang to me 'At last there you are! You thought we've been hanged /For almost two years what became of you?' 'No, I was not sure that you were hanged, but I did take you for ghosts, come back to haunt me!' 'We nearly are [ghosts] they answered, for we come from very far indeed.'"[79]

Toussaint Louverture

It stands to reason that Julien Raimond would want to take St. Georges, an experienced officer, with him to Saint-Domingue, then in the throes of a bloody civil war. While we lack concrete evidence that St. Georges was aboard the convoy of the commission, the fact that we find Captain Colin, and Lamotte (Lamothe) on the payroll of a ship of the convoy to Saint-Domingue, confirms Louise Fusil's account. So does Lionel de La Laurencie's statement: "The expedition to Saint-Domingue was Saint-Georges' last voyage," adding that "Disenchantment and melancholy resulting from his experiences during that voyage must have weighed heavily on his aging shoulders"[80]

Within a fortnight of returning from that harrowing journey, St. Georges was again building a symphony orchestra. Like his last ensemble, Le Cercle de l'Harmonie was also part of a Masonic lodge performing in what was formerly the Palais Royal. The founders of the new Loge, a group of nouveau riche gentlemen bent on re-creating the elegance of the old Loge Olympique, were delighted to find St. Georges back in Paris. According to Le Mercure Français, "The concerts ... under the direction of the famous Saint Georges, left nothing to be desired as to the choice of pieces or the superiority of their execution."[81] Though a number of his biographers maintain that at the end of his life, St. Georges lived in abject poverty, the Cercle was not exactly the lower depths. Rejected by the army, St. Georges, at the age of 51, found solace in his music. Sounding like any veteran performer proud of his longevity, he said: "Towards the end of my life, I was particularly devoted to my violin," adding: "never before did I play it so well!"[82]

In the late spring of 1799, there came bad news from Saint-Domingue: Generals Hédouville and Roume, the Directoire's emissaries, reverting to the discredited policy of stirring up trouble between blacks and mulattoes, succeeded in starting a war between pro-French André Rigaud's mulattoes, and separatist Toussaint Louverture's blacks. It was so savage that it became known as the "War of Knives". Hearing of it affected St. Georges, already suffering from a painful condition which he refused to acknowledge. Two of his contemporary obituaries reveal the course of his illness and death.

Report of remover of Saint-Georges's body

La Boëssière fils: "Saint-Georges felt the onset of a disease of the bladder and, given his usual negligence, paid it little attention; he even kept secret an ulcer, source of his illness; gangrene set in and he succumbed on June 12, 1799.[note 6]

J. S. A. Cuvelier in his Necrology: "For some time he had been tormented by a violent fever ... his vigorous nature had repeatedly fought off this cruel illness; [but] after a month of suffering, the end came on 21 Prairial [June 9] at five o'clock in the evening. Some time before the end, St. Georges stayed with a friend [Captain Duhamel] in the rue Boucherat. His death was marked by the calm of the wise and the dignity of the strong."[84]

Saint-Georges's death certificate was lost in a fire; what remains is only a report by the men who removed his body: "St. Georges Bologne, Joseph, rue Boucherat No. 13, Bachelor, 22 Prairial year 7, Nicholas Duhamel, Ex-officer, same house, former domicile rue de Chartres, taken away by Chagneau." Above the name "Joseph" someone, no doubt the "receiver", scribbled "60 years", merely an estimate which, mistaken for a death certificate, added to the confusion about Saint-Georges's birth-year. Since he was born in December 1745, he was only 53.2006

Nicholas Duhamel, the ex-officer mentioned in the report of the "receivers", a Captain in St. Georges' Legion, was his loyal friend until his death. Concerned about his old colonel's condition, he stopped by his apartment on rue de Chartres in the Palais Royal and, having found him dying, took him to his flat in rue Boucherat where he took care of him until the end.

This year died, twenty-four days apart, two extraordinary
but very different men, Beaumarchais and Saint-Georges;
both Masters at sparring; the one who could be touched by a
foil, was not the one who was more enviable for his virtues.
     — Charles Maurice (1799)



  • Ernestine, opéra comique in 3 acts, libretto by Choderlos de Laclos revised by Desfontaines, première in Paris, Comédie Italienne, July 19, 1777, lost. Note: a few numbers survive.
  • La Partie de chasse, opéra comique in 3 acts, libretto by Desfontaines, public premiere in Paris, Comédie Italienne, October 12, 1778, lost. Note: a few numbers survive.
  • L'Amant anonyme (The Anonymous Lover), comédie mélée d'ariettes et de ballets, in 2 acts, after a play by Mme. de Genlis, première in Paris, Théâtre de Mme. de Montesson, March 8, 1780, complete manuscript in Paris Bibliothèque Nationale, section musique, côte 4076. The first critical edition of this, his lone surviving opera, was prepared by Opera Ritrovata for streaming performance by Los Angeles Opera and the Colburn School in November 2020.[85]
  • La Fille garçon, opéra comique mélée d'ariettes in 2 acts, libretto by Desmaillot, premiere in Paris, Comédie Italienne, August 18, 1787, lost.
  • Aline et Dupré, ou le marchand de marrons, children's opera, premiere in le Théâtre du comte de Beaujolais, 1788. lost.
  • Guillaume tout coeur ou les amis du village, opéra comique in one act, libretto by Monnet, première in Lille, September 8, 1790, lost.


  • Deux Symphonies à plusieurs instruments, Op. XI, No. 1 in G and No. 2 in D.

Note: No 1 is listed as 'spurious' by Grove Music Online.[86]

No 2 is identical with the overture to Bologne's opéra comique, L'Amant anonyme. The orchestration consists of strings, two oboes and two horns.


Violin concertos[edit]

Saint-Georges:14 Violin Concertos

Saint-Georges composed 14 violin concertos. Before copyrights, several publishers issued his concertos with both Opus numbers and numbering them according to the order in which they were composed. The thematic incipits on the right, should clear up the resulting confusion.

  • Op. II, No. 1 in G and No. 2 in D, published by Bailleux, 1773
  • Op. III, No. 1 in D and No. 2 in C, Bailleux, 1774
  • Op. IV, No. 1 in D and No. 2 in D, Bailleux, 1774 (No. 1 also published as "Op. post." while No. 2 is also known simply as "op. 4")
  • Op. V, No.1 in C and No. 2 in A, Bailleux, 1775
  • Op. VII, No. 1 in A and No. 2 in B-flat, Bailleux, 1777
  • Op. VIII, No. 1 in D and No. 2 in G, Bailleux n/d (No. 2 issued by Sieber, LeDuc and Henry as No. 9. No. 1 is also known simply as "op. 8")
  • Op. XII, No. 1 in E-flat and No. 2 in G, Bailleux 1777 (both issued by Sieber as No. 10 and No. 11)

Symphonies concertantes[edit]

Saint-Georges: 8 Symphonies Concertantes
  • Op. VI, No. 1 in C and No. 2 in B-flat, Bailleux, 1775
  • Op. IX, No. 1 in C and No. 2 in A, LeDuc, 1777
  • Op. X, for two violins and viola, No. 1 in F and No. 2 in A, La Chevardière, 1778
  • Op. XIII, No. 1 in E-flat and No. 2 in G, Sieber, 1778

Unlike the concertos, their publishers issued the symphonie-concertantes following Bailleux's original opus numbers, as shown by the incipits on the right.

Chamber music[edit]


  • Trois Sonates for keyboard with violin: B-flat, A, and G minor, Op. 1a, composed c. 1770, published in 1781 by LeDuc.
  • Sonata for harp with flute obligato, n.d.: E-flat, original MS in Bibliothèque Nationale, côte: Vm7/6118
  • Sonate de clavecin avec violin obligé G major, arrangement of Saint-Georges's violin concerto Op. II No. 1 in G, in the collection Choix de musique du duc regnant des Deux-Ponts
  • Six Sonatas for violin accompanied by a second violin: B-flat, E-flat, A, G, B-flat, A: Op. posth. Pleyel, 1800.
  • Cello Sonata, lost, mentioned by a review in the Gazette du departement du Nord on April 10, 1792.

String quartet[edit]

  • Six quatuors à cordes, pour 2 vls, alto & basse, dédiés au prince de Robecq, in C, E-flat, G minor, C minor, G minor, & D. Op. 1; probably composed in 1770 or 1771, published by Sieber in 1773.
  • Six quartetto concertans "Au gout du jour", no opus number. In B-flat, G minor, C, F, G, and B-flat, published by Durieu in 1779.
  • Six Quatuors concertans, oeuvre XIV, in D, B-flat, F minor, G, E-flat, & G minor, published by Boyer, 1785.

Vocal music[edit]

Recueil d'airs et duos avec orchestre: stamped Conservatoire de musique #4077, now in the music collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale, contains:

  1. Allegro: Loin du soleil, in E-flat.
  2. Andante: N'êtes vous plus la tendre amie? in F.
  3. Ariette: Satisfait du plaisir d'aimer; in A.
  4. Ariette-Andante: (Clemengis) La seule Ernestine qui m'enflamme; in E-flat
  5. Duo: (Isabelle & Dorval) C'est donc ainsi qu'on me soupconne; in F.
  6. Scena-Recitavo: Ernestine, que vas tu faire .. as tu bien consulte ton Coeur? in E-flat.
  7. Aria: O Clemengis, lis dans mon Ame; in C minor.
  8. Air: Image cherie, Escrits si touchants; in B-flat.
  9. Air: Que me fait a moi la richesse ... sans songer a Nicette; in F minor.
  10. Duo: Au prés de vous mon Coeur soupire

Note: The names of the characters, Ernestine and Clemengis, in numbers 4, 6, 7 and 8 of the above pieces indicate they came from the opera Ernestine; number 5 is probably from La Partie de chasse.

The orchestra for all the above consists of strings, two oboes and two horns.

Additional songs

  • Air: "Il n'est point, disoit mon père", from the opera Ernestine, in Journal de Paris, 1777.
  • Two Airs de la Chasse, "Mathurin dessus l'herbette" and "Soir et matin sous la fougère" "de M. de Saint-Georges" in Journal de La Harpe, of 1779, the first air, no. 9, the second one, no. 10, dated 1781, marked: "With accompagnement by M. Hartman", clearly only the voice part may be considered to be by Saint-Georges. The same is true of an air "de M. de St.-George", "L'Autre jour sous l'ombrage", also in the Journal de La Harpe (8e Année, No. 7), marked: "avec accompagnement par M. Delaplanque".
  • Two Italian canzonettas: "Sul margine d'un rio" and "Mamma mia" (different than the spurious "Six Italian Canzonettas") copied by an unknown hand (including the signature) but authenticated by a paraphe (initials) in Saint-Georges' hand. They are in BnF, ms 17411.

Dubious works[edit]

The opera, Le Droit de seigneur taken for a work by Saint-Georges is in fact by J-P. E. Martini: (one aria contributed by Saint-Georges, mentioned in 1784 by Mercure, is lost).

A Symphony in D by "Signor di Giorgio" in the British Library, arranged for pianoforte, as revealed by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma is by the Earl of Kelly, using a nom de plume.

A quartet for harp and strings, ed. by Sieber, 1777, attributed to Saint-Georges, is mentioned in an advertisement in Mercure de France of September 1778 as: "arranged and dedicated to M. de Saint-Georges" by Delaplanque. This is obviously by the latter.

A sonata in the Recueil Choix de musique in the Bibliothèque Nationale, is a transcription for forte-piano and violin of Saint-Georges' violin concerto in G major, Op. II, No. 1. This is the only piece by Saint-Georges in the entire collection erroneously attributed to him.

Recueil d'Airs avec accompagnement de forte piano par M. de St. Georges pour Mme. La Comtesse de Vauban, sometimes presented as a collection of vocal pieces by Saint-Georges, contains too many numbers obviously composed by others. For example, "Richard Coeur de lion" is by Grétry; "Iphigenie en Tauride" is by Gluck; and an aria from Tarare is by Salieri. Even if Saint-Georges had arranged their orchestral accompaniments for forte-piano, it would be wrong to consider them as his compositions. As for the rest, though some might be by Saint-Georges, since this may only be resolved by a subjective stylistic evaluation, it would be incorrect to accept them all as his work.

Six Italian Canzonettas by a Signor di Giorgio, for voice, keyboard or harp, and The Mona Melodies, a collection of ancient airs from the Isle of Man, in the British Library, are not by Saint-Georges.

Recueil de pieces pour forte piano et violon pour Mme. la comtesse de Vauban erroneously subtitled "Trios" (they are solos and duos), a collection of individual movements, some for piano alone, deserves the same doubts as the Recueil d'Airs pour Mme. Vauban. Apart from drafts for two of Saint-Georges's oeuvres de clavecin, too many of these pieces seem incompatible with the composer's style. "Les Caquets" (The Gossips) a violin piece enthusiastically mentioned by some authors as typical of Saint-Georges's style, was composed in 1936 by the violinist Henri Casadesus. He also forged a spurious Handel viola concerto and the charming but equally spurious "Adelaide" concerto supposedly by the 10-year-old Mozart, which Casadesus’ brother, Marius Casadesus later admitted having composed (often incorrectly attributed to Henri as well).


The following is a list of all known commercial recordings.

Symphonies concertantes[edit]

  • Symphonie Concertante, Op. IX No. 1 in C: Miroslav Vilimec and Jiri Zilak, violins, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor, Avenira, 1996–98.
  • Symphonie Concertante, Op. IX No. 2 in A: Miroslav Vilimec and Jiri Zilak, violins, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor, Avenira, 1996–98.
  • Symphonie Concertante, Op. X No. 1 in F: Miroslav Vilimec and Jiri Zilak, violins, Jan Motlik, viola, Frantisek Preisler, conductor. Avenira, 1996–98.
  • Symphonie Concertante, Op. X No. 2 in A: Miroslav Vilimec and Jiri Zilak, violins, Jan Motlik, viola, Frantisek Preisler, conductor. Avenira, 1996–98.
  • Symphonie Concertante, Op. XII (sic) in E-flat: Miroslav Vilimec and Jiri Zilak, violins, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor. Avenira, 1996–98.
  • Symphonie Concertante, Op. XIII in G:
    • Miriam Fried and Jamie Laredo, violins, London Symphony Orchestra, Paul Freeman conductor, Columbia Records, 1970.
    • Vilimec and Ailak, violins, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Preisler conductor, Avenira 1996–98.
    • Christopher Guiot and Laurent Philippe, violins, with Les Archets de Paris. ARCH, 2000.
    • Micheline Blanchard and Germaine Raymond, violins, Ensemble Instrumental Jean-Marie Leclair, Jean-François Paillard, conductor, Erato.
    • Huguette Fernandez and Ginette Carles, violins, Orchestre de Chambre Jean-François Paillard, Paillard, conductor, Musical Heritage Society.
    • Malcolm Lathem and Martin Jones, violins, Concertante of St. James, London, Nicholas Jackson, conductor, RCA Victor, LBS-4945.


Symphony Op. XI No. 1 in G:

  • Orchestre de chambre de Versailles, Fernard Wahl, conductor, Arion, 1981.
  • Tafelmusik orchestra, Jeanne Lamon violinist-conductor, Assai M, 2004.
  • Le Parlement de musique, Martin Gester conductor, Assai M, 2004.
  • Ensemble Instrumental Jean-Marie Leclair, Jean-François Paillard, conductor, Erato n.d., Contemporains Français de Mozart.
  • London Symphony Orchestra, Paul Freeman, conductor, Columbia Records, 1974.
  • L'Amant anonyme, overture in three movements:
    Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Jeanne Lamon, Conductor, Assai M, 2004
  • L'Amant anonyme, contredanse:
    Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Jeanne Lamon, Conductor, Assai M, 2004
  • L'Amant anonyme, Ballet No. 1 and No. 6:
    Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Jeanne Lamon, Conductor, Assai M, 2004

Symphony Op. XI No. 2 in D:

  • L'Ensemble Instrumental Jean-Marie Leclair, Jean-François Paillard, conductor. Erato, n.d., Contemporains Français de Mozart.
  • Orchestre de chambre de Versailles, Bernard Wahl, conductor, Arion, 1981.
  • Les Archets de Paris, Christopher Guiot conductor, Archets, 2000.
  • Tafelmusik orchestra, Jeanne Lamon, violinist-conductor, Assai M, 2004.
  • Le Parlement de musique, Martin Gester, conductor, Assai M, 2004.

Violin concertos[edit]

Page from Concerto Op. V No. 2 by Saint-Georges, with Batteries and Bariolages
  • Concerto Op. II, No. 1 in G:
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler conductor, Avenira, 2000.
  • Concerto Op. II, No. 2 in D:
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor, Avenira, 2000.
    • Stéphanie-Marie Degrand, Le Parlement de musique, Gester, conductor, Assai, 2004.
    • Yura Lee, Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie, Reinhard Goebel Conductor, OEHMS Classics, 2007
  • Concerto Op. III, No. 1 in D:
    • Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Orchestre de chambre Bernard Thomas, Arion, 1974.
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor, Avenira, 2000.
    • Linda Melsted, Tafelmusik Orchestra, Jeanne Lamon, violinist-conductor, CBC Records, 2003.
    • Qian Zhou, Toronto Camerata, Kevin Mallon, conductor, Naxos, 2004.
  • Concerto Op. III, No. 2 in C:
    • Tamás Major, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Forlane, 1999.
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor, Avenira, 2000.
  • Concerto Op. IV, No. 1 in D:
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor, Avenira 2000.
    • Qian Zhou, Camerata Toronto, Kevin Mallon, conductor, Naxos, 2004. (The recording of this concerto was mistakenly reissued by Artaria as Op. posthumus, see incipit of concerto Op. IV, No. 1 in D, in "Works".)
  • Concerto Op. IV, No. 2 in D:
    • Hana Kotková, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiiana, Forlane, 1999.
  • Concerto Op. V, No. 1 in C:
    • Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Orchestre de chambre Bernard Thomas, Arion, 1974
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor, Avenira, 2000.
    • Christoph Guiot, Les Archets de Paris, ARCH, 2000
    • Takako Nishizaki, Köln Kammerorchester, Helmut Müller-Brühl, conductor, Naxos, 2001.
  • Concerto Op. V No. 2 in A:
    • Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Orchestre de chambre Bernard Thomas, Arion, 1974
    • Rachel Barton, Encore Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Hegge, conductor, Cedille, 1997.
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor, Avenira, 2000.
    • Takako Nishizaki, Köln Kammerorchester, Helmut Müller-Brühl, conductor, Naxos, 2001.
  • Concerto Op. VII No. 1 in A: Anthony Flint, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Forlane, 1999.
  • Concerto Op. VII No. 2 in B-flat:
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor, Avenira, 2000.
    • Hans Liviabella, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Alain Lombard, conductor, Forlane, 1999.
  • Concerto Op. VII, No. 1, actually Op. XII, No. 1: in D: Anne–Claude Villars, L'Orchestre de chambre de Versailles, Bernard Wahl, conductor, Arion, 1981.
  • concerto Op. VII, No. 2, actually Op. XII, No. 2 in G: Anne–Claude Villars, L'Orchestre de chambre de Versailles, Bernard Wahl, conductor, Arion, 1981.
  • Concerto Op. VIII, No. 1 in D:
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor, Avenira, 2000.
  • Concerto Op. VIII, No. 9, actually Op. VIII, No. 2 in G:
    • Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Orchestre de chambre Bernard Thomas, Arion, 1976, Koch, 1996.
    • Takako Nishizaki, Köln Kammerorchester, Helmut Müller-Brühl, conductor, Naxos, 2001.
    • Stéphanie-Marie Degand, Le Parlement de musique, Martin Gester, conductor, Assai M, 2004.
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor. Avenira, 2000.
  • Concerto Op. VIII, No. 10, actually Op. XII, No. 1 in D: Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor. Avenira, 2000.
  • Concerto Op. VIII, No. 11, actually Op. XII, No. 2 in G:
    • Miroslav Vilimec, Pilsen Radio Orchestra, Frantisek Preisler, conductor. Avenira, 2000.
    • Qian Zhou, Toronto Camerata, Kevin Mallon, conductor. Naxos 2004. (Listed as Concerto No. 10 in G in the recent Artaria Edition) The Largo of this recording is identical with that of Op. V, No. 2 in A.

(As mentioned above, a Concerto with Qian Zhou, reissued by Artaria as "Op. Posthumus in D", is the same as Op. IV, No. 1.)[citation needed]

Chamber music[edit]

String Quartets:

Six quartets Op. 1 (1771).

  • Juilliard Quartet, Columbia Records, 1974.
  • Antarés, B-flat only Integral, 2003.
  • Coleridge, AFKA, 1998.
  • Jean-Noël Molard, Arion 1995.

Six Quatuors Concertans, "Au gout du jour", no opus number (1779).

  • Coleridge Quartet, AFKA, 2003.
  • Antarés, Integral 2003.

Six Quartets Op. 14 (1785).

  • Quatuor Apollon, Avenira, 2005.
  • Joachim Quartet, Koch Schwann 1996.
  • Quatuor Les Adieux, Auvidis Valois, 1996.
  • Quatuor Atlantis, Assai, M 2004.
  • Quatuor Apollon, Avenira, 2005

Three keyboard and violin sonatas (Op. 1a):

  • J. J. Kantorow, violin, Brigitte Haudebourg, Clavecin, Arion 1979.
  • Stéphanie-Marie Degand, Violin, Alice Zylberach, piano, Assai M, 2004.


  • Adagio in F minor, edited by de Lerma, performance notes by Natalie Hinderas, Orion, 1977.
  • Air d'Ernestine: Faye Robinson, soprano, London Symphony Orchestra, Paul Freeman conductor, Columbia Records, 1970.
    • Overture and two Airs of Leontine from L'Amant anonyme: Enfin, une foule importune: Du tendre amour: Odile Rhino, soprano, Les Archets de Paris, Christophe Guiot conductor, Archives Records, 2000.
    • Excerpts from Ballets No. 1 & 2, and Contredance from L'Amant anonyme, Tafelmusik Orchestra, Jeanne Lamon, violinist-conductor, CBC Records, 2003.

In Popular Culture[edit]

Searchlight pictures is doing an upcoming film called Chevalier to be released in July 2023[87]



  1. ^ Lolli's dedication was to Joseph's father: "To M. de Bologne de Saint-Georges, who gave the arts a priceless gift in the person of his son."[31]
  2. ^ Platon is, erroneously, mentioned as Saint-George's first violin teacher by some of his serious biographers. But Saint-Georges did not go to Saint-Domingue until the age of 51.[33]
  3. ^ Grimm n.d. comments that they[who?] really objected to Saint-Georges's reputation "as a taskmaster."
  4. ^ L'Amant is Saint-Georges's sole opera to be found intact, and is listed in BnF, section musique, côte 4076
  5. ^ St. Georges, private, 4th battalion, 2nd company, 1st platoon, 2nd squad, No. 8[4]
  6. ^ but for being confused by the new calendar, it would have been June 9.[83]


  1. ^ La Boëssière 1818, p. xvi.
  2. ^ Banat 2006, p. 180.
  3. ^ Banat 2006, p. 58, 95, 110, 112, 117, 122, 128, 162, 171, 215, 225, 232.
  4. ^ a b Banat 2006, p. 373.
  5. ^ "Joseph Boulogne Chevalier de Saint-Georges- Bio, Albums, Pictures – Naxos Classical Music". Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  6. ^ Banat 2006, p. 24, "Permit for Mme. St. George Bologne to take with her to France the Negresse called Nanon, Creole of said island around twenty years of age small of stature the whites of the eye bilious the face reddish in color and a little mulatto her son named Joseph two years of age….
  7. ^ Bardin 2015, p. 1.
  8. ^ Banat 2006, p. xviii.
  9. ^ Brevet (Warrant), April 1757, Archives Nationales, 1.01 101. Doc. 8.2 in: Banat 2006, p. 491
  10. ^ Rashidi, Runoko (April 13, 2014). "Joseph Bologne: The Chevalier de Saint-Georges of France". Atlanta Black Star. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  11. ^ "Le Chevalier de Saint-George, Afro-French Composer, Violinist & Conductor". Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  12. ^ Cohen 2003, p. 86.
  13. ^ "About Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges". Colour of Music. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  14. ^ Beauvoir 1840.
  15. ^ "St. Georges and Mulatre J'f.," listed as passengers landing in the Bordeaux custom officials' booklets; C.A.O.M., French Overseas Archives, F5b 14-58; Doc. 7.1 in: Banat 2006, p. 492.
  16. ^ Banat 2006, p. 490.
  17. ^ a b Waleik, Gary (March 15, 2019). "Le Chevalier De Saint-Georges: Fencer, Composer, Revolutionary". WBUR. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  18. ^ Banat 2006, pp. 52–53.
  19. ^ La Boëssière 1818, p. xvj.
  20. ^ a b Angelo 1834, p. 23.
  21. ^ Bardin 2006, p. 66.
  22. ^ Bardin 2015b, p. 3.
  23. ^ Fusil 1841, p. 142.
  24. ^ La Boëssière 1818, p. xxj.
  25. ^ Banat 2006, p. 225.
  26. ^ a b c Banat 2006, p. 181.
  27. ^ Banat 2006, p. 226.
  28. ^ Banat 2006, p. 229.
  29. ^ Banat 2006, p. 231.
  30. ^ Banat 2006.
  31. ^ Lolli 1764, p. 58, 110, 141.
  32. ^ Gossec 1766, p. 126.
  33. ^ Beauvoir 1840, pp. 22–28.
  34. ^ Stamitz 1770, p. 126, 127.
  35. ^ 6 String Quartets, Op. 6. Digital copy of the original print at the website of le Bibliothèque nationale de Paris.
  36. ^ Banat 2006, p. 249.
  37. ^ "Mercure de France. Feb.-Mar. 1773". Mercure de France (in French): 176. February 1773. hdl:2027/nyp.33433081720751 – via HathiTrust.
  38. ^ Prod'homme 1949, p. 12.
  39. ^ Cornaz, Marie (2001). "Godefroy de la Rivière, François". In Tyrrell, John; Sadie, Stanley (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.43049. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0.
  40. ^ Almanach 1781, p. 198.
  41. ^ Stille 2010, p. [page needed].
  42. ^ Banat 2006, p. 259.
  43. ^ Anderson, Gordon A.; et al. (2001). "Paris". In Tyrrell, John; Sadie, Stanley (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.40089. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0.
  44. ^ Harrison 1998, p. 1.
  45. ^ a b Brenet 1900, p. 365.
  46. ^ Bachaumont 1779, p. [page needed].
  47. ^ "Comédie Italienne". Mercure de France. 2: 182. July 1777 – via HathiTrust.
  48. ^ La Harpe 1807, pp. 130–135.
  49. ^ Huard, Michel. "La chaussée d'Antin – Atlas historique de Paris". Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  50. ^ Braham 1989, pp. 212–213.
  51. ^ Banat 2006, p. 171.
  52. ^ Vigée-Lebrun 1869, p. 77.
  53. ^ Journal de Paris, October 13, 1778.[full citation needed]
  54. ^ Bardin 2006, p. 112.
  55. ^ Hochschild 2005, pp. 87, 220.
  56. ^ Angelo 1834, p. 24.
  57. ^ The Morning Herald, April 11, 1787.[full citation needed]
  58. ^ The Morning Herald, April 6, 1787.[full citation needed]
  59. ^ Angelo 1830, p. 538.
  60. ^ Journal general de France, August 11, 1787.[full citation needed]
  61. ^ Angelo 1834, pp. 25–26.
  62. ^ Angelo 1830, p. 344.
  63. ^ Feuilles de Flandres, Lille-Arras, July 1990.[full citation needed]
  64. ^ Saint-Georges & Banat 1981, p. 294.
  65. ^ Banat, p. 354:[incomplete short citation] "Report by Luzerne, Louis XVI's ambassador in London."
  66. ^ Feuilles de Flanders, July 10, 1790.[full citation needed]
  67. ^ a b Banat 2006, p. 359.
  68. ^ Fusil 1841, pp. 144–145.
  69. ^ Banat 2006, p. 369.
  70. ^ Fusil 1841, pp. 143–144.
  71. ^ Banat 2006, p. 358.
  72. ^ Gazette du Nord. November 13, 1791. {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)[full citation needed]
  73. ^ Banat 2006, p. 366.
  74. ^ Schama 1989, p. 597.
  75. ^ Schama 1989, p. 600.
  76. ^ Banat 2006, p. 374.
  77. ^ Banat 2006, p. 367.
  78. ^ Edwards 1797, p. 68.
  79. ^ Fusil 1841, p. 105.
  80. ^ La Laurencie 1922, p. 484.
  81. ^ Le Mercure Français. April 11, 1797. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)[full citation needed]
  82. ^ Banat 2006, p. 484.
  83. ^ La Boëssière 1818, p. xxii.
  84. ^ Banat 2006, p. 453.
  85. ^ Salazar, David (October 28, 2020). "Restoring a Classic - How Opera Ritrovata Created a Critical Edition for Joseph Bologne's 'L'Amant anonyme'". Opera Wire. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  86. ^ Banat, Gabriel (2001). "Saint-Georges [Saint-George], Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de". In Tyrrell, John; Sadie, Stanley (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.24316. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0.
  87. ^ "Searchlight Movies 2023". Searchlight.

Works cited[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Banat, Gabriel (Autumn 1990). "The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Man of Music and Gentleman-at-Arms, the Life and Times of an Eighteenth Century Prodigy". Black Music Research Journal. Chicago: Columbia College. 10 (2): 177–212. doi:10.2307/779385. JSTOR 779385.
  • Bernier, Olivier (1984). Louis the Beloved : the life of Louis XV (1st ed.). Garden City, New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-18402-6.
  • Bisdary-Gourbeyre, Conseil Général de la Guadeloupe (2001). Le fleuret et l'archet, Le Chevalier de Saint-George (1739? – 1799) (in French). Guadeloupe.
  • Broglie, Gabriel (1984). Madame de Genlis (in French). Paris: Perrin.
  • Brook, Barry S. (1972). La Symphonie Française dans la seconde moitié du XVIII siècle. Vol. I (in French). Paris: L'Institut de Musicologie de l'Université de Paris.
  • Cripe, Helen (1974). Thomas Jefferson and music (2nd print. ed.). Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. ISBN 0-8139-0504-4.
  • David, Saul (1998). Prince of pleasure : the Prince of Wales and the making of the Regency (1st American ed.). New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 0-87113-739-9.
  • Elliott, Grace Darlymple (1859). Journal of my life during the French Revolution. London: R. Bentley.
  • Fraser, Antonia (2002). Marie Antoinette : the journey (English ed.). London: Phoenix. ISBN 0-75381-305-X.
  • Guédé, Alain (1999). Monsieur de Saint-George, le Négre des lumières (in French). Paris: Actes Sud. ISBN 2-7427-2390-0.
  • Hardman, John (1994). Louis XVI (1st paperback ed.). New Haven: Yale University press. ISBN 0-300-06077-7.
  • Héllouin, Frédéric (1903). Gossec et la musique française du XVIIIe siècle (in French). Paris: A.Charles.
  • Hourtoulle, F. G. (1989). "Franc-Maçonnerie et Revolution". Cahiers d'Histoire. Revue d'Histoire Critique (in French). Paris: Carrere (87): 121–136. doi:10.4000/chrhc.1672.
  • James, C. L. R. (1989). The Black Jacobins : Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (2nd rev. ed.). New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-72467-2.
  • Kates, Gary (1995). Monsieur d'Éon is a woman : a tale of political intrigue and sexual masquerade. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-04761-1.
  • La Borde, Jean-Benjamin (1780). Essai sur la musique ancienne et moderne (in French). Paris: Pierres.
  • Labat, J. B. (1722). Nouveau voyage aux isles d'Amérique (in French). Paris: Peyraud.père,
  • Lever, Evelyne (1996). Philippe Egalité (in French). Paris: Fayard. ISBN 221359760X.
  • Loomis, Stanley (1986). Paris in the terror. New York: Richardson & Steirman. ISBN 0931933188.
  • Maurois, Bernard André (1957). Les Trois Dumas (in French). Paris: Librairie Hachette.
  • Peabody, Sue (1996). "There are no slaves in France" : the political culture of race and slavery in the Ancien Régime (1. issued as an Oxford University Press paperback ed.). New York: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-19-510198-7.
  • Pitou, Spire (1985). The Paris Opéra : an encyclopedia of operas, ballets, composers, and performers. Westport: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313243948.
  • Poisson, Georges; Grasset, Bernard (1985). Choderlos de Laclos ou L'Obstination (in French). Paris: Grasset. ISBN 9782246312819.
  • Pougin, Arthur (1888). "Viotti et l'école moderne du violon". Revue de Musicologie (in French). Paris: Schott. 70 (1): 95–107. JSTOR 928657.
  • Quoy-Bodin, J. L. (1984). "L'Orchestre de la Société Olympique en 1786". Revue de Musicologie (in French). Paris: Bibliothèque historique de la Ville de Paris. 10708 (1): 95–107. doi:10.2307/928657. JSTOR 928657.
  • Raffin, Milland; Raffin, Jean-François (2000). L'Archet (in English, French, and German). Paris: L'archet éditions. ISBN 295155690X.
  • Ribbe, Claude (2004). Le Chevalier de Saint-George (in French). Paris: Perrin. ISBN 2-262-02002-7.
  • Smidak, Emil F. (1996). Joseph Boulogne called Chevalier de Saint-Georges (English ed.). Lucerne, Switzerland: Avenira Foundation. ISBN 3-905112-07-8.

External links[edit]