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Kreutzer Sonata
Philips 468152 (2001)

 

Home -> Musicians -> Bridgetower, George Augustus Polgreen

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George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower  (1780-1860)

Black Violinist Accompanied by Beethoven

Bridgetower Sonata Was Renamed for Kreutzer


 


Table of Contents

1 Introduction
2 Biography
3 Works
4 Bibliography
5 Electronic Resources
6 Footnotes
7 Other Resources

Copyright: The British Museum

1 Introduction
An excellent Black History Resource on George Bridgetower is an online multimedia set of Six Lessons by the City of London Festival at http://www.bridgetowerproject.org The Beethoven Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47, now called the Kreutzer Sonata, was originally dedicated to the Black violin virtuoso George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower.  Beethoven accompanied him on piano at the work's premiere in Vienna in 1803. Before the sonata could be published, a personal disagreement with Bridgetower led Beethoven to substitute the name of another violinist, Rodolphe Kreutzer. 

On April 2, 2009 The New York Times published an article by Felicia R. Lee, "Poet's Muse: A Footnote to Beethoven" in which she wrote:

Rita Dove, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former United States poet laureate, has now breathed life into the story of that virtuoso, George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower, in her new book, “Sonata Mulattica” (W. W. Norton).
                      ...
“Here was the case of a man who made it into the history books, but barely. And who would have been, if not a household word, a household word in the musical world. That flame was snuffed out.”
                      ...
While Bridgetower failed to find a prominent place in the musical canon, his story is nevertheless recorded in the major musical histories, like The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, as well as on Internet sites like AfriClassical.com and its companion, africlassical.blogspot.com, which document black contributions to classical music.


2 Bridgetower, George Augustus Polgreen, 1780-1860[1]
Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Lawrence University
Bridgetower (dubbed “the Abyssinian Prince”) was born in Baiła,[2] Poland to John Frederick Bridgetower[3] (employed, like Haydn, in the Austro-Hungarian court of the Esterházy family), a polyglot valet (he is said to have spoken fluent English, French, German, Italian, and Polish) who is thought to have come from the Caribbean, possibly a slave who escaped from Barbados.  His mother, Marie Ann [née Sovinki?], was from Eastern Europe, perhaps Poland.  She died in 1807, then living in Dresden with her other child, Friedrich T. Bridgetower, according to Hare 1936 [p299] and a cellist.  As a child prodigy, Bridgetower made his debut as soloist with the Concert Spirituel on 11 or 13 April 1789.[4]  He was introduced to England,[5] performing at the Drury Lane Theatre on 19 February 1790, when he played between parts of the Messiah. This attracted the attention of the British royalty, resulting in performances at Windsor Castle,[6] Brighton Pavilion, the Pump Rooms at Bath in December (attended by about 550, including George III)[7] and in London.  Bridgetower had already studied perhaps with Haydn (1732-1809) and now under the patronage of the Prince, he studied violin with Giovanni Mane Giornovichi or Ivan Jarnović (ca. 1735/1747-1804, resident in Paris from 1773 and London from 1791-1796) and with François-Hippolyte Barthélémon (1741-1808, concertmaster at the Royal Opera), and composition with a former Mozart student, keyboardist Thomas Attwood (1765-1838), who was in service to the Prince of Wales starting in 1787. Joining with his Austrian contemporary, Franz Clement (for whom Beethoven was to write his violin concerto), he presented a benefit concert at Hanover Square Rooms on 2 June 1790, with the patronage of the Prince of Wales[8] (the future George IV), for which the father was paid £25.  The concert included a performance of a string quartet by Ignaz Pleyel (1757-1831) in which the two young violinists were joined by Ware and F. Attwood (relative of Thomas?).  It is possible Pleyel was in the audience, as he was in London for the next season.  Present however was the composer Abbé Georg Johann Vogler (1749-1814), who commented that the quartet’s aggregate age was not even 40.  In 1791, Bridgetower joined another former Mozart student, Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837), both attired in scarlet clothing, pulling stops as they sat alongside the organist Joah Bates at the Handel Commemoration in Westminster Abbey.[9]  It was also that year when he joined with Clement in a string quartet performance (2 June) at Hanover Square, and entered the Prince’s service at Brighton, playing violin in the orchestra until 1809.  He also served at least once in the first violin section in his pre-teen years of London’s Solomon concerts (starting 15 April 1791), thereby involved in the premières of the Haydn symphonies, commissioned by Johann Peter Solomon (1745-1815), and conducted from the keyboard by the composer.[10]  During the remainder of this season, Bridgetower appeared as concerto soloist in each of the remaining five programs at the Hanover Square Rooms.  It is estimated that in the last decade of the century, about 50 performances were presented in London.

Before his departure for the continent, he gave performances from 24 February 1792 and 30 March within oratorio performances at the King’s Theatre, managed by Thomas Linley (1733-1795), father of yet another Mozart student, also named Thomas Linley (born in 1756 and died by drowning in 1778).  He played at a concert in 1794 in benefit for the Spitalfields weavers,[11] and one in Salisbury, 6 November 1794, with a concerto said to be in the style of Viotti.  He appeared with Haydn at a concert held by Barthélémon, at which time a Viotti[12] concerto was programmed. When he played at the King’s Arm in Cornhill on 31 October 1793 – his work for the Prince still allowed him to be engaged for non-court engagements – he might have been upstaged by the presence of Charles Claggett and his Aiuton, or Ever Tuned Organ.  In 1788 the Irishman mounted a series of tuning forks in a row and placed them in a narrow hollow wooden box, where they were struck by hammers.  Depending of course on the tuning forks, the range might be Six octaves.  The volume of sound was very small and nothing evolved from the concept until 1886, when the Parisian harmonium maker unveiled the celesta, first employed by Ernest Chausson in. La tempête (1888) and Chaikovskĭi The nutcracker (1892).

Up to this time, John Frederick had regaled himself in extravagant Turkish-style robes[13] (Turkish exoticisms were very popular at the time, as exemplified by Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Beethoven’s ecumenical Turkish variation in the last movement of the ninth symphony) but about 1791 he was sent into exile by the Prince of Wales for immoral behavior.  Thereafter his son resided at Carlton House under the Prince’s protection,[14] dressed as an English gentleman.  In later years, Bridgetower lived at 20 Eaton Street (1797), John Street (1807-1809), Chancery Cross (1810), Little Ryder Street (1812), and Chapel Street (1814-1815). At the time of his death, he lived at 8 Victory Cottages (and/or Norfolk Street) on a small road in Peckham.

He was granted a leave from the Prince’s service and went to Europe in 1802 to visit his mother and brother in Dresden. He gave two concerts while there (24 July 1802 and 18 March 1803).  On the first was performed the first symphony by Beethoven, the violinist’s own concerto (not extant?) and a cello concerto by his brother (also not located).  The second concert included a concerto by Mozart and one by Viotti, directed by [Johann Philipp?] Schulz.  He also performed in Tepliz and Carlsbad during this time.

He went to Vienna in the spring of 1803, already celebrated, where he met Beethoven.  At the Augarten Theater on 24 May 1803, in a concert series managed by Ignaz Schuppanzigh, the two gave the première of Beethoven’s penultimate violin sonata (opus 47), much to Beethoven’s delight.[15]  Despite the fact that the concert took place at 8 in the morning, it was well attended,[16] including the presence of Prince Karl Lichnowsky (who had introduced the two at his home), Prince Josef Johann Schwarzenberg, the British Ambassador, and Prince Josef Marx Lobkowitz.  When “Brischdauer” inserted an improvised flourish, Beethoven left the piano and said to Bridgetower, “Noch einmal, mein lieber Bursch!” There had been no time for a rehearsal, even though Beethoven had awakened Ferdinand Ries at 4:30 that morning to make a copy for the violinist.  The second movement, which Bridgetower had to read from the piano part, looking over Beethoven’s shoulder, so pleased the audience that it was immediately repeated.

Beethoven wrote a letter of introduction (18 May 1803) on behalf of Bridgetower to Baron Alexander Wetzlar (1769-1810).

He made friends in Vienna, including the physician, Prof. Johann Th. Helm of Prague and Count Prichnowsky.  He and Dr. Helm met Beethoven on the street and the pair was taken to the home of Schuppanzigh for the rehearsal of a Beethoven quartet.  Present were violinists Ignaz Krumbholz, Christian Schrieber Karl Moser of Berlin, and cellist Anton Kraft.  He also met Alexander Wetzler (to whom Beethoven had recommended Bridgetower), Count Moritz Fries (a banker), and Theresa Schonfeld.

Warm relationships with Beethoven were however ephemeral.  They parted ways over an argument,[17] and Beethoven withdrew the sonata, dedicating it to Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831),[18] never a Beethoven enthusiast, who refused to perform it since the première had already been given, but also saying the work was “outrageously unintelligible” (according to Berlioz in his Voyage musical en Allemagne et en Italie).  The work, originally titled by Beethoven as Sonata mulattica composta per il mulatto Brischdauer, gran pazzo e conpositore mulattico, and in his 1803 sketchbook, as a Sonata per il Pianoforte ed uno violino obligato in uno stile molto concertante come d’un concerto, is nonetheless now known as the Kreutzer sonata.

His passport, obtained in Dresden, 27 July 1803, portrayed him as being of average height, beardless with dark brown hair and eyes, with a broad nose and swarthy complexion. Friends added that he was melancholic and discontent.

Back in London, Bridgetower was sponsored in a concert by the Prince of Wales, held 23 May 1805 at the New Rooms, Hanover Square, with mention in the program of the violinist’s brother.

Although no mention had been previously made to him as a pianist, Bridgetower became a respected keyboard teacher and contributed to the pedagogical literature for the instrument.

He was an original member of the Royal Philharmonic Society (founded in 1813) for which he played in a quintet by Beethoven[19] and, as second violin, in a Mozart quartet.  He also belonged to the Professional Music Society (1807).

In 1811, he secured his B.M. degree from the University of Cambridge.  The “exercise” for this occasion was the anthem for orchestra and chorus, By faith sublime fair Passiflora steers her pilgrimage along this vale of tears, set to a text by F. A. Rawdon and performed at Great St. Mary’s Church, 30 June 1811.

He lived in Rome in both 1825 and 1827, and resided for a long time also in Paris.  He visited London in 1843, before later returning there for the remainder of his life, but for an 1845 visit to Vienna, reported by MacArdle in Schindler 1966 (p191).

He seemingly outlived his wife, with whom he was married by 1819. Her sister, a Miss Drake, was the beneficiary of his estate of less than £1000.  In 1832 he had inherited 800 Saxon dollars from his mother’s estate (she had died in Budissen, Saxony, in 1807), which suggests his brother was already dead in 1832.  He had a daughter, resident in Italy.  He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.  It has been rumored that his violin is now owned by a collector in California.  A letter from Beethoven to Bridgetower was sold in London for $3,600 in 1973.  A letter from Vincent Novello (1781-1861), activist in the Bach revival in England, is signed “your much obliged old pupil and professional admirer.”

A British film, A mulatto song, directed by Topher Campbell, was issued in 1996.  The cast included Colin McFarlane as Frederick DeAugust, (i.e. Bridgetower’s father) Cole Mejas as the young Bridgetower, and Everton Nelson as the adult Bridgetower.

The Bridgetower String Quartet (violinists Bruce Mack and Harriette G. Hurd, violist Leon D. Neal, and cellist Jerome Wright) was established in 1973, affiliated with Boston’s Concerts in Black and White and had at least one event taped for telecast by WGBH. In addition to a year’s residency in Brazil, it toured the United States and participated in Howard University’s Andrew W. Mellon Recital Series in the 1980s. It disbanded when Bruce Mack returned to Brazil.[20]

3 Works[21]

A collection of new songs, composed by an African.

By faith sublime fair Passiflora steers her pilgrimage along this vale of tears, for chorus & orchestra. Text: F. A. Rawdon. Performed in London, Great St. Mary’s Church, 30 June 1811.

Concerto, violin (by 1802).

Concerto, violin, violoncello [spurious?, or more likely two concertos, the one for cello by his brother].

Diatonica armonica for the pianoforte. London: R. Birchall, 1812. ii, 29p.[22]

Henry; A ballad (c1812). London: Monzani & Co., n.d. 7p. Première [?]; Elizabeth Feron.[23] Dedication: Princess of Wales. Duration: 5:23.

----- for piano quintet, arr. by Dominique-René de Lerma (2003). Prepared on the request of TrioFatal,of Gelsenkirche.

Minuets &c &c for the violin, mandolin, German flute & harpsichord, composed by an African, inscribed to His Grace, Duke of Buccleugh and to the Right Honorable John, Lord Montague of Broughton. Book 2d, etc. London: Richard Duke, for the author, [1795?]. Library: British Library [b.53.b.(l.)]

Minuets, cotillions and country German dances for the violin, mandolin, flute, and harpsichord, composed by an African (c1790). Library: British Library.

Sonata mulattica, violin & piano. Manuscript lost, or is this a reference to the Kreutzer sonata?

Symphony [spurious?].

4 Bibliography[24]

Lerma, Dominique-René de. “George Bridgetower” in Sonorities in Black music; a concert series, first concert, 12 December 1978. Baltimore: Morgan State University, 1978, p5.

Abdul, Raoul. “The African prince” in Blacks in classical music. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1977, p175-178.

Anderson, Emily, ed. The letters of Beethoven. London: Macmillan, 1961, p90ff.

Aulich, Bruno. “Bridgetower” in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1973, v15, c1090-1091.

Banat, Gabriel. “Saint-Georges, Chevalier de” in International dictionary of Black composers, ed. by Samuel A. Floyd, Jr. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999, v2, p983-989.

Brandenburg, S., ed. Beethovens Werke für Klavier und Violine. München: 1974.

Campbell, Margaret. The great violinists. London [?]: Robson Books, 2004.

Cheke, D. J. “Feron, Elizabeth” in The new Grove dictionary of opera, ed. by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan, 1997, v2, p160.

DeMoor, Margriet. Kreutzersonate; eine Liebesgeschichte. München: Hanser, 2002.

Edwards, F. G. “George P. Bridgetower and the Kreutzer sonata” in Musical times, v49 (1908/V/01), p302-308.

Engelsmann, W. Beethovens Kompositionspläne, dargestellt in den Sonaten für Klavier und Violine. Augsburg: 1931.

Forbes, E., ed. Thayer’s life of Beethoven. 2nd ed. Princeton: 1967.

Frimmel, Teodor von. “Beethovens Kreutzersonate und der Violinvirtuose Bridgetower” in Neue freie Presse (1908/V/31) p11.

Girdham, Jane. “Black musicians in England” in Ignatius Sancho; an African man of letters. London: National Portrait Gallery, 1997.

Grove, George. “Bridgetower, George Polgrreen” in The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians, ed. by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan, 1980, v3, p281-282.

Hanslick, Edward. “Zur Geschichte der in letzter Zeit so viel genannten Kreutzersonate” in Allgemeine Musikzeitung, v19 (1892) p177.

Hare, Maud Cuney. “George Polgreen Bridgetower” in Crisis, v34 (1927/VI) p122, 137-139.

Hare, Maud Cuney. Negro musicians and their music, introduction by Josephine Harreld Love. New York: G. K. Hall, 1996. xl, 439p. (African-American women writers, 1910-1940). ISBN 0-7838-1417-8. Original publication: Washington: Associated Publishers, 1936.

Herwegh, M. Technique et interprétation sous forme d’essai d’analyse psychologique éxperimentale appliqué aux sonates pour piano et violon de Beethoven. Paris: 1926.

Hutschenruyter, W. Programma van den Beethovencyclus. S’Gravenshage: 1911.

King, Reyahn. An African man of letters. London: National Portrait Gallery, 1997.

Kuhn, Dieter. Beethoven und der schwarze Geiger. 1990. 499p. [Fiction].

Lerma, Dominique-René de. “Bridgetower; Beethoven’s Black violinist” in Your musical cue, v5n3 (1968/XII-1969/I) p7-9. RILM 69/2954.

Lerma, Dominique-René de. “Beethoven as a Black composer” in Black music research journal, v10n2 (1990/fall) p118-122. Reprinted from Black music research newsletter, v8n1 (1985/fall) p3-5

MacArdle, Donald W. Beethoven abstracts. Detroit: Information Coordinators, 1973.

Marek, George R. Beethoven; biography of a genius. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1969.

Matthews, Betty. “George Polgreen Bridgetower” in Music review v29 (1968/II) p22-26.

Nettl, Paul. Beethoven encyclopedia. New York: Philosophical Library, 1956.

Panton, Clifford D. George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower, violin virtuoso and composer of color in late 18th-century Europe. Foreword by Maria Luisa Rodriguez Lee. Lewiston NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2005. 148p. (Studies in history and interpretation of music, 115). ISBN10 0-7734-6207-4. IBSN13 978-0-7734-6207-6.

Papendiek, Charlotte Henrietta. Court and private life in the time of Queen Charlotte, being the journals of Mrs. Papendiek. London: Bentley & Son, 1887.

Riemann, Hugo. Opern-Handbuch; ein notwendiges Supplement zu jedem Musiklexikon. Leipzig: 1887.

Rogers, Joel Augustus. 100 amazing facts about the Negro. New York: 1930. [Advances the erroneous speculation that Beethoven might have had African ancestry].

Scherman, Thomas K. The Beethoven companion, by Thomas K. Scherman and Louis Biancolli. Garden City NY: Doubleday, 1972.

Schindler, Anton Felix. Beethoven as I knew him (1860), ed. by Donald W. MacArdle, translated by Constance S. Jolly. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966.

Scobie, Edward. Black Britannia. Chicago: Johnson Publications, 1972.

Selig, Emil. “Zwei vergessene Kunstgenossen Beethovens” in Allgemeine Musikzeitung, v55 (1928) p1202.

Shyllon, Folarin. Black people in Britain, 1555-1833. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Slonimsky, Nicolas. “Bridgetower, George Augustus Polgreen” in Baker’s biographical dictionary of musicians. 6th ed. New York: Schirmer Books, 1978, p232-233.

Southern, Eileen. “Bridgetower, George Polgreen” in Biographical dictionary of Afro-American and African musicians. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1982, p47-48. (The Greenwood encyclopedia of Black music).

Southern, Eileen. The music of Black Americans; A history. 3rd ed. New York: W. W. Norton,.1997, p253, 582.

Spector, Irwin. “The Kreutzer sonata” in Dissonance, v2n2 (1970/winter) p1-8. RILM 71/2369.

St. Laurent, Philip. “The Negro in world history; George A. P. Bridgetower” in Tuesday magazine; A supplement to the times-union [Chicago] v3n12 (1968/0VIII) p8-9, 16-19. [includes portrait by Roszel Scott].

Thayer, A. W. Thayer’s life of Beethoven, rev. by E. Forbes. ==: 1964, vol. 2, p331-333.

Volkmann, Hans. Beethoven in seinen Beziehungen zu Dresden. Dresden: 1942.

Wesley, Samuel. [A short account of George Bridgetower, in the hand of Samuel Wesley, ca. 1836]. British Library, Add. 27593.

Williams, Francee Greer. The Abyssinian prince; The true life story of George Polgreen Bridgetower. Lincoln NE: Writers Club Press, 2001. 216p. ISBN 0-595-14538-6 9 (paperback). [Fiction, which suggests that the Countess Marie Ann finds to her surprise that Bridgetower was her father].

Wright, Josephine R. B. “George Polgreen Bridgetower; An African prodigy in England” in Musical quarterly, v67n1 (1980/I).

Wurzbach. Archiv für judische Familienforschung. Wien: 1915.

5 Electronic Resources

“Education & artistic institutions”
http://www.black-history.org.uk/

“London; A world famous Black violinist dies in obscurity” http://www.prweb.com/releases/2001/8/prweb27307.php. (2001). 2p. Consulted 2003/VI/10.

“Mad about Beethoven; Beethoven’s friends and patrons”
http://www.madaboutbeethoven.com/pages/people_and_
places/people_patrons/people_patrons_bridgetower.htm
. 2p. Consulted 2003/VIII/20.

“1778 - The nine year old African prodigy” http://www.black-history.org.uk/prodigy.asp. 1p. Consulted 2005/VIII/20.

“The Say Brother Collection” http://main.wgbh.org/saybrother/programs/sb_0613.html (2001) 3p. Consulted 2003/VI/10.

Phillips, Mike. “Black Europeans, a British Library Online Gallery feature by guest curator Mike Phillips” http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/blackeuro/pdf/bridgetower.pdf . 8p. Consulted 2006/X/13.

Zick, William J. “Black violinist accompanied by Beethoven” http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/Bridge.html . (2006). 18p. Consulted 2006/X/9.

6 Footnotes

[1] Many sources provide 1779 as the date of his birth. Southern 1982 (p47) and Slonimsky 1978 (p232) state he was born on 29 February 1780. Southern 1997 (p253) reverts to the 1779 date, probably by oversight. Panton 2005 gives 1778 as the year of birth. There is a possibility that, lacking a family name, the father assumed that of Bridgetower, a misspelling of Bridgetown which, if true, suggests that John Frederick was an escaped slave from Barbados (whose capitol is Bridgetown). This is supported by a guest book entry of 7 December 1796, reported by Volkmann 1942, p149-154. There is also speculation that Polgren (or Polgreen) might have been the name of the slave holder. Nevilla E. Ottley, a musician and educator in the Washington area has conducted genealogical research on the names and in 2005 had found no Barbados citizens named Bridgetower, but a few in England. However she has identified several Polgreens within one family, going back to James Henry Polgreen who married Christabella Ann Toppin in St. Georges (1819), noting the name was of Scottish and British origin. In the process she found middle names that are identical to surnames within her own family.

[2] Five cities employ this word (Polish for “white”), two of which without further qualification: One in the Opole region, the other in Silesia.

[3] Further identified by János Harich in “Haydn documenta I” (Haydn year book II, 1963-1964).

[4] The review in Le mercure de France made a point of indicating this refuted the concept of racial inferiority.

[5] Political unrest in France encouraged a move to England during this period.

[6] Queen Charlotte’s assistant keeper of the wardrobe, Mrs. Papendiek, made note of the 1789 introduction at Windsor, commenting on the performance of a Viotti concerto and a quartet by Haydn.

[7] Reviews issued in Bath’s Chronicle (3 December 1789) and Morning post (8 December 1789) are quoted in Hare 1996 (p297) and http://www.black-history.org.uk/prodigy.asp  which, however asserts the composer’s mother was an English lady. The four concerts given in Bath included concertos by Viotti, Giornovichi, and Saint-Georges. One of these was a benefit concert that included a singer, Miss Cantelo but it was reported that it “was not equal to her friends’ expectations, notwithstanding Harrison and Young Bridgetower both exhibited. The Black Prince, father of the Violinist, by being too officious, has lost the countenance of most of his benefactors, as his Concert showed last Saturday morning at the Lower Rooms – not fifty attended.”

[8] Born in 1762, he became Prince Regent in 1811 when his father, George II, was determined not well enough to rule, and became George III in 1820. He died in 1830. Carlton House, by Pall Mall became his London residence when he turned 21, and he set out lavishly decorating the building with newly designed furniture, various chinoiseries, and paintings by the major artists of the day. It was demolished in 1827.

[9] Originally only three concerts were projected, but music from the first was repeated at a fourth concert and the fifth was a repeat of Messiah, first heard on 29 May. The concerts were held between 26 May and 5 June 1784 under the patronage of George III. The performers were at the disposal of Joah Bates, who already had a 20-year reputation of interest in “old” music as director of the Concert of Ancient Music. Much information of the events was provided in Charles Burney’s 1785 book, An account of the musical performances in Westminster-Abbey and the Pantheon…in commemoration of Handel. He indicated that Handel had been born in 1684, a year earlier than that accepted today and providing the justification for the commemoration’s date. It had been incorrectly assumed that Saxony was still using the Julian calendar, unmindful that the Gregorian calendar had been adopted. Plans for the celebration were developed from a conversation at Bates’ home in 1783, when he remarked that there were more eminent musicians in London than any other city. Galleries had to be constructed in the Abbey to accommodate the audience and the performers. The orchestra exceeded Handel’s specification with the addition of sacbuts, “doublebase” timpani, contrabassoon, and seven flutes for an orchestra that numbered 275.

[10] Haydn was booked for the 1791-1792 and 1793-1794 seasons, the first of which earned him an estimated modern-day equivalent of $250,000. Mozart’s death in 1791 prevented him from participating in the 1792-1793 season, which had already been arranged.

[11] Located in London’s East End and later ethnically diverse, the area was populated by French Huguenot silk weavers and was later to become the site for the nocturnal ventures of Jack the Ripper. While more recently better known for architecture, shopping and more attractive features, in the late 18th century it was a favorite part of London for sailors seeking cheap liquor and prostitutes. Added to the weavers’ woes were symptoms of the Industrial Revolution.

[12] Giovanni Battista Viotti (1755-1824) left his native Italy in 1780 to tour eastern Europe. He settled in Paris in 1782 where the next year he served as conductor for the Masonic orchestra, the Loge Olympique, working alongside Saint-Georges. His affiliation with the aristocracy obligate his departure in 1792, when e moved to London, directing the Opera Concerts in 1795, the King’s Theatre orchestra in 1797, and managing the Italian Opera (1794-1795). Of his 29 concertos for the violin, the first 19 were written in Paris. Although he and Samuel Wesley (1766-1837) were both older than Bridgetower, the three were associated as colleagues. Other friends, closer to his own age, included the pianist-composer-publisher Johann Cramer (1771-1858), Thomas Attwood, and Dr. Charles Hague of Cambridge (1769-1821).

[13] He passed himself off variously as Rev. John Augustus Polygreen Bridgetower, Friedrich de August Bridgewater, and Lieutenant-General Mentor who had served Toussaint L’Ouverture in Haiti.

[14] This was an important factor in Bridgetower’s life, despite his talent. An Act of Parliament in 1807 outlawed the [purchase of slaves, but the emancipation was not effected until 1834 (followed by a four-year period of transition by apprenticeship, to protect land owners from the loss of their labor force). The freedom is now celebrated on 1 August, the day liberation was proclaimed.

[15] The final movement was originally the finale of op. 30.

[16] It brought in 1,149 florins.==

[17] Greg Benko, former director of the International Piano Archives, stated that he had seen a document held within a private library in St. Louis, that suggested the argument was over a male (very unlikely and not supported elsewhere). All other references indicate Beethoven’s change of attitude resulted from an obscene comment Bridgetower made regarding a woman, so Beethoven allegedly told J. W. Thrilwell, according to an article he published in the December 1858 issue of Musical world.

[18] Born to a German violinist active in the French court, Kreutzer became a celebrated violin virtuoso. He had been soloist while in his 20s with Saint-Georges. It has been claimed that he continued the virtuosity concepts of Saint-Georges into the 19th century, and even transmitted some concepts of violin performance from Saint-Georges to Beethoven, who adopted these in his violin concerto (Banat 1999, p988). Kreuzter was one of the first violin teachers at the Conservatoire, established by Napoleon, and was principal violinist and conductor with the Opéra. He and Beethoven never met.

[19] Most likely opus 29 in C major, from 1801, although it could have been that in E-flat major from 1795. Least likely would be the quintet for piano and winds, op. 16, despite the presence in London of most dependable woodwinds, as Haydn’s late symphonies indicate.

[20] Dr. Leon Neal joined the faculty at Howard University, Jerome Wright and Harriette Hurd intensified their recital and performance activities.

[21] Reprints of Diatonica harmonica and of Henry (including the version for piano quintet) are in preparation for publication.

[22] Excerpts from this scale exercise book were performed by Claus Christian Schuster at a Vienna concert, 28 October 2005 at the baroque Palais Mollard-Clary.

[23] This might have taken place in 1812, the year the soprano married Joseph Glossop, but would have been before her stay in Italy starting in 1829.

[24] Mention should be made of Henry Schwarzchild (1916-1986), who escaped from Nazi Germany and became head of the American Civil Liberty Association’s Capital Punishment Project, was quite familiar with the life and works of Bridgetower. Further exploration would determine if he published on the subject.

7 Other Resources

All-About-Beethoven.com (www.all-about-beethoven.com) - The Ludwig van Beethoven page

LVBeethoven.com (www.lvbeethoven.com) - Enter the world of Ludwig van Beethoven!

UnheardBeethoven.org (www.unheardbeethoven.org) - Ludwig van Beethoven's unrecorded music.
 

This page was last updated on June 21, 2014