Push Play: African Heritage in Classical Music

One of the biggest things I miss from pre-COVID times is theater. I desperately miss indulging in the songs, and the drama. Besides visiting the museums that I mentioned in my When the Clock Strikes 12 blog post, I will also be the first in line to buy tickets to any and every theatrical production. 

This post will feature a few Composers of African Heritage. I came across these unique individuals on one of my searches after watching Hamilton (for the 4th time). These composers made monumental marks in the classical music world, yet they are rarely mentioned with names such as Beethoven and Bach. I came across quite a few composers, but I will mention a couple and leave the rest to you as always. So, don’t miss the pink underlined hyperlinks; they will lead you to more sources and information.

Let’s begin with the composer who inspired this post...


George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1778-1860)

With a Barbados and German lineage, Bridgetower was an Afro-European musician. Specifically, he was a professional violinist. I decided to begin with Bridgetower because of the controversy. I love a good historical drama. In this case, Bridgetower  was the original dedicatee of a Sonnet composed by Beethoven. According to sources Bridgetower and Beethoven experienced a falling out due to some verbal exchanges. Due to this altercation, Beethoven dedicated the sonnet  to another...scandalous!
Despite the altercation, Bridgetower gave many successful concerts throughout Europe. His academic career is also impressive: He was elected to the Royal Society of Musicians in 1807 and he earned a Bachelor of Music in 1811.

José Maurício Nunes Garcia (1767-1830)

José Maurício Nunes Garcia was an Afro-Brazilian with many titles. Garcia was a composer during the Portuguese colonial period, and he was also a Roman Catholic Priest. Composing over 240 works that are searchable on The Choral Public Domain Library, Garcia became a classical music pioneer in Brazil. He lent his teachings to the brotherhood of Santa Cecilia, where he composed many religious works.
José Maurício Nunes Garcia left a mark in Brazilian music history. Following in his footsteps, his son graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of Rio de Janeiro. I’ll leave you wondering for more on Mr. Garcia’s son. It will be a future Museum Monday. So, stay tuned!

Here’s one of Garcia’s pieces being performed. 

You must be thirsty for more. Click here to learn more on African heritage in classical music. 

Happy Black History Month! 

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