The career of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the 18th- century composer, is enjoying a renaissance. On Jan. 15, the Epiphany Theatre Company’s “Words Up” series presented a reading of a new play, “God of Arms,” written by myself and James Armstrong, based on the life of Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges.
I first heard of Joseph Bologne and his music from Sarah Bleasdale who learned of the Chevalier while studying for her MM at University of Arizona. We were discussing the reputation classical music has of being by and for “dead white guys” — and how that is simply not true!
The Chevalier de Saint-Georges is a classical music figure who appeals to diverse audiences simply because of who he was. Saint-Georges was one of the most celebrated composers and musicians of his time and his contributions to the classical music world have continued to influence composers since Mozart. For example, he is the first to have created a symphonic concerto.
Why, then, is he so unknown? Why has he been marginalized? Why have we allowed him to be forgotten?
Whatever the answer, a remedy exists: to celebrate the man and his accomplishments. It was to this end that I turned to James Armstrong, an established playwright with a flair for period dramas, and a collaboration began.
My play “God of Arms” — taken from the title bestowed upon those whose skill with the sword outshone all others — follows the travails of Saint-Georges as both composer and master swordsman, as he tries first to inculcate himself into the inner circle the aristocracy, then ultimately turns against a world that would never allow him inside.
For further information on “God of Arms” please contact me at PlayGodOfArms@mac.com or (212) 866-0444