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Baptiste Bonnefoy

was born Mariano de la Cruz on 14 September 1749, the illegitimate son of an unknown father and Feliciana Barros, who was described on her son’s baptismal certificate as a parda, a designation commonly applied in eighteenth-century Chile to free men and women of African descent. In 1769, at age 20, he married Josefa Guerrero Morales (1748–1842), a mixed-race slave of Inés Echevarría Portillo.

Barros established his candle making workshop with the financial assistance of someone named José Baeza and with the earnings from this shop he was able to buy his wife s freedom They would ultimately have ten children Barros s status as a master candle maker allowed him to join the black militia a group of free men of African ancestry who were charged with patrolling the city at night and protecting its stores and warehouses He soon became an officer in ...


Blackviolinist who performed extensively in Britain. Bridgetower was born in Biała, Poland, the son of John Frederick Bridgetower, who might have come from the Caribbean, and his wife, Marie Ann, a Polish woman who died when their son was young. Bridgetower was said to have been a child prodigy, having made his debut as a soloist in April 1789 in Paris. The environment in which he was brought up was a significant factor in the development of his talent. His father was employed by Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, and John and his son lived at the back of the opera house with the court's musicians. Haydn was also an employee of the Prince, and it is possible that the young Bridgetower studied under him. A few years later, in England, Bridgetower would play the violin in Haydn's symphonies at concerts commissioned by Johann Peter Solomon where ...


Azeddine Chergui and Hassan Bourara

Moroccan singer, composer, and musician, was born Ahmed Chahboun in Casablanca in 1918 to a modest father from Agadir in the Souss region of Morocco. El Bidaoui grew up in an old medina neighborhood well known for its many stores that sold and rented musical instruments. At an early age, he developed a taste for classical Arabic music and traditional religious songs (such as “Nashid” and “Madih”). According to his son, musical instruments were so expensive that his family had to rent him one. He debuted at a very young age with the first Moroccan “Takht,” a traditional Arab musical ensemble he set up with Moroccan Jewish musicians. The first songs he composed in the 1940s drew the attention of King Mohammed V who, in 1946 asked him to set up a Moroccan music orchestra This he did along with Abbas Al Khiyati Al Ghali Al Khiyati and ...


Philip Herbert

Violinist and composer, celebrated and admired as a remarkable musician in Cornish society after his humble beginnings as a slave. Emidy, was born in Guinea, West Africa, sold into slavery in 1787 by Portuguese traders, and then taken to Brazil. He came to Lisbon with his new owner, who recognized his interest in music and provided him with a violin and a tutor. He progressed musically, and by 1795 was a second violinist in the orchestra of the Opera House in Lisbon.

However, in 1795, when Sir Edward Pellow brought his ship the Indefatigable into the river Tagus in Lisbon for repairs, he and other officers attended the Lisbon opera. After seeing Emidy perform in the orchestra, they kidnapped him, forcing him to come aboard their ship as their fiddler to perform dances (which he loathed) to entertain the sailors and raise their morale as they sailed.

After ...


Barbara Bonous-Smit

harpist, was born Ann Stevens Hobson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the younger of two daughters of Grace Stevens Smith and Harrison D. Hobson. Her father was a social worker and her mother an accomplished pianist and a Philadelphia public school teacher. Her older sister, Harriet Hobson, was a child prodigy who began piano studies at age two, performed in piano recitals by age four, and by high school gave up the instrument.

When Hobson was five her family moved to Germany where her father a U S Army lieutenant colonel was stationed in Giessen and Mannheim after World War II Hobson s musical training began at age six with her mother s lessons on piano and music fundamentals She attended the U S Army school and her musical talent was further nurtured by German piano teachers and the rich musical and cultural heritage of Germany The Hobsons spent ...


David E. Spies

composer and musician, was born Herbert Horatio Nichols in New York City, the son of Joel Nichols, a building supervisor, and Ida (maiden name unknown). His parents, originally from Trinidad and St. Kitts, had moved to New York in 1910. Nichols first lived at Sixty-first Street and Eleventh Avenue, in the area known at the time as San Juan Hill. The family moved to Harlem when Nichols was seven. When he was not practicing or winning at chess, checkers, or marbles, the young Nichols spent much time in the public library. From age seven to age fourteen he took lessons in classical piano and general music instruction with Charles L. Beck. An intelligent and motivated youngster, Nichols attended DeWitt Clinton High School and began study at City College of New York at age fifteen.

While still in high school Nichols who was introduced to jazz piano ...


Assumed name of Joseph de Bologne (or Boulogne) (c.1740–1799), international composer and violinist and one of the best fencers in Europe. He was born in Guadeloupe as Joseph, the son of George de Bologne, a wealthy plantation owner. His mother, Nanon, was an African slave. He and his mother were taken to France in 1753. He received a gentleman's education at the fencing school La Boëssière's Royal Academy of Arms. Its focus was on academic study, music, dance, and languages. His fame at fencing was such that he was called le Chevalier de Saint‐Georges.

François‐Joseph Gossec (1734–1829) invited him to be leader of the Concerts des Amateurs orchestra in 1769, and later, its musical director. Between 1772 and 1777 he composed premiered and published violin concertos some of the earliest string quartets in France violin sonatas and symphonies concertantes ...


musician and composer, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Anne Emerine Beluche Snaër and François Snaër. His family immigrated to New Orleans from St. Domingue via Cuba before 1818 and was of mixed African, French, and German ancestry. His mother was purportedly the daughter of the Caribbean pirate René Beluche, and his father was a wealthy grocer and church organist. The young Snaër played more than a dozen musical instruments, including violin, cello, piano, and organ. He was also a prolific composer. Little is known about Snaër's life before the Civil War other than his first song, “Sous sa fenêtre,” was written sometime around 1851 when he was eighteen As a member of the free black population in New Orleans before the Civil War many of whom spoke French identified with French culture and had a certain amount of wealth Snaër s ...