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Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) was the first black violinist/composer of international repute and by all accounts an extraordinary figure. He was born in Guadalupe to a wealthy plantation owner and an enslaved African mother; the three traveled to Paris, where Joseph gained fame as a fencing master and was knighted. He was conductor of Le Concert Olympique, one of the leading European orchestras of the time, with whom he commissioned and premiered Haydn's Paris symphonies. He was also a virtuoso violinist, playing as soloist in all of his own concertos. He wrote twelve violin concertos, two symphonies, and some of the first symphonie-concertantes, predating Mozart's by several years (and perhaps inspiring its composition).
His chamber music includes many string quartets, six violin duets, and three sonatas for forte-piano and violin. His String Quartet No. 1, Op.1 was among his very first compositions and shows a strong influence from early Haydn quartets. It has been edited and reconstructed from the manuscript by Dominque-Rene de Lerma for this Peer Music edition.