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Chevalier de Saint-Georges' String Quartets, op.1

Chevalier de Saint-Georges' String Quartets, op.1

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The music of polymath Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges has become increasingly sought-after as the classical music world reflects on its history. Born on Christmas Day 1745 in Guadeloupe, Joseph was the illegitimate son of a wealthy plantation owner and Nanon, a slave of Senegalese descent. He was brought to Paris at the age of 7, and quickly excelled in his studies. Upon graduating from a prestigious fencing academy, he was granted the title of Chevalier. He was well-known as a master swordfighter and an accomplished musician, even notably acquainted with Queen Marie Antoinette. Through modern eyes, Joseph’s life a compelling narrative of a meticulous and gregarious man who defied society’s expectations and seized every opportunity that came his way.

There is tremendous value in Bologne’s music, which is expertly crafted within the style and idiom of the mid to late 18th century. His collection of six String Quartets, op. 1, likely completed in 1771, are complex and varied enough to delight audiences, yet simple enough to act as a canvas on which a skilled performer can paint their musical expressivity.

This edition was created in 2021 and intended as a practical performing edition. It is based on the original Siebert edition, which is widely available online, but great care has been taken to reconcile missing articulations, slurs, wrong notes, and even missing measures in some cases. In all cases, I have done my best to remain faithful to the composer’s intentions, and we hope our edition will help these quartets become performed more widely.

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