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Black Composers, Classical Quartets

There is a substantial amount of Classical music written by Black composers from the 1700s to the 1900s. In many cases, the music exists today only in manuscript form, making it difficult to access for the average performer. To make the music of these Black composers more easily accessible, I am creating printed editions with downloadable scores and parts, as well as releasing video recording demos periodically. All of the music is either originally for String Quartet or arranged by myself. As the project develops, more music will be added to this page. Please contact me if you have suggestions!

Use the coupon "BlackComposers" at checkout if you'd like to download any of this music for free! A portion of the sale price goes toward creating a larger library of music by Classical Black Composers, but I also want this music to be as accessible and available as possible. Thank you for your support!

Joseph Bologne (1745-1799)

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges was a French violinist, composer and conductor. A contemporary of Mozart, Saint-Georges is recognized as the first known classical composer of African ancestry: his mother was a Senegalese slave in the French-Caribbean colony of Guadeloupe. Among his many talents, Saint-Georges was a prolific composer. He wrote six operas, eight symphonie-concertantes, and over a dozen violin concertos. The Op. 1 string quartets are his first compositions, and draw inspiration from Haydn’s early quartets. Later in his life, Saint-Georges conducted the Concert de la Loge Olympique, and commissioned Haydn’s six “Paris” Symphonies. He performed all of his violin concertos as the soloist with his orchestra. To top it all, Saint-Georges was a champion fencer, beating the top masters in France when he was still a teenager.

Listen to the quartets here

Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780)

Ignatius Sancho is thought to be the first person of African origin to vote in Britain. He was born on a slave ship sailing to the Caribbean, and became an orphan soon after. While he was a slave, his intellect impressed the Duke of Montagu, who lent him access his library. He ran away at age 18 to the Montagu house, where he developed his skills in music, poetry, reading and writing, eventually becoming a prominent abolitionist. By 1774 he was able to open his own grocery shop in London, and owning property allowed him to vote. The 12 Country Dances were written in 1779, shortly before his death, and dedicated to Miss North. The dances were performed in line-dance formation, and the original score includes instructions. While only the themes were published, Crosmer created original variations in a similar style, which will be included here.

Listen to the Twelve Country Dances here

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