The Other Mozart: The Life of the Famous Chevalier de Saint-George by Hugh Brewster illus. by Eric Velasquez
This is the story of Joseph Bologne. Born in 1745 on the French Island, his mother, Nanon was a slave and his father George was wealthy planter from a well to do French family.
When Joseph Bologne was eight the three moved to Paris. George gave his son a title to fit in. When the three reached their new home - Joseph Bologne became the Chevalier de Saint -George.
He was a champion fencer and a celebrated violinst, conductor and composer.
" In 1769, Joseph became the first violinist of the largest orchestra in Paris. And three years later, the orchestra performed two violin concertos that he had composed. A newspaper review said that the Chevalier de Saint- George received "the most rapturous applause" - both for his playing and for his compositions. The next year, at the age of just twenty-four, Joseph became the orchestra's conductor"
"But the most famous composer in all of Europe was Franz- Josef Haydn. Musicians called him affectionately "Papa" Haydn. In 1785, Joseph traveled to Vienna to meet the great man. Two years later, Joseph conducted the firs performances of six symphonies that Haydn had composed especially for his orchestra. Today these are known as Haydn's "Paris" Symphonies. The fourth one is called La Reine (The Queen) as it was Marie Antoinette's favorite
Brewster includes fact about other prominent people during this time inculding Marie Antoinette, Mozart and Toussaint L'Ouverture. This inclusion can help a reader to cleary see time in which Chevalier de Saint- George lived. Velasquez illustrations are strong, delicate, detailed and gorgeous Velasquez takes the reader to another century with his artwork.
The author mentions the Revolution, the King and Queens beheading and the Reign of Terror that seized Paris.
"An extremist faction led by a man named Robespierre had seized control of France's revolutionary government. Robespierre saw traitors everywhere. Former aristocrats were particularly suspicious. For almost a year, Joesph shivered in a damp, cold cell"
Filled with facts and time lines, this is wonderful biography of a not so well known, accomplished figure in history.
This biography could be paired with
Paul Robeson by Eloise Greenfield Jill's review @ Rhapsodyinbooks or
The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights
by Russell Freedman
And for the first time I am linking to NonFiction Monday (finally)