Wynton Marsalis, George Walker, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, William Grant Still, George Bridgetower, Scott Joplin, Florence Price, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, African American Composers, Black Composers, Black History, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN, KINDR'D Magazine, KINDR'D, Willoughby Avenue, Wriit,

8 black composers who changed the course of classical music history | Classic FM

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8 black composers who changed the course of classical music history | Classic FM

From Scott Joplin to Florence Price, the music of these brilliant composers has too long been neglected in Western classical music tradition.

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We’re celebrating the most famous and influential black composers in classical music history.

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799)
Dubbed ‘le Mozart noir’ (‘Black Mozart’), the Chevalier de Saint-Georges is remembered as the first classical composer of African origins.

Born to a wealthy plantation owner and his African slave, Saint-Georges was a prolific composer who wrote string quartets, symphonies and concertos in the late 18th century. He also led one of the best orchestras in Europe – Le Concert des Amateurs – and former US president John Adams judged him “the most accomplished man in Europe”.

Mozart, who at the time of Saint-Georges’ success was struggling to make his own music heard, envied him. There is a popular theory that Mozart, as well as swiping one of Saint-Georges’ ideas in his Sinfonia Concertante, used his jealousy to fuel the creation of the villainous black character Monostatos, who appears in his opera The Magic Flute.