by Lilyanna D’Amato
While many of you may recognize this week’s composer, Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, perhaps you know him by a different name: “the Black Mozart.”
Deeply problematic, the nickname casts this virtuosic musician as the lesser equivalent of a White counterpart. In his article, Joseph Boulogne, the Chevalier de Saint-George and the Problem With Black Mozart, Julian Ledford suggests that through this biased comparison, Saint-Georges becomes “a mythicized inferior of the status quo’s perfect symbol of 18th-century classical music.”
Historically, this is how the Western canon has always understood Black classical music: in contrast to a supposedly superior model. By severing Saint-Georges’ name from Mozart’s, we restore the legacy he is owed — a reckoning long overdue.
Born in the French West Indies colony of Guadeloupe, Joseph Boulogne spent his childhood on a plantation near Basse-Terre. [Read more…]