Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Lee Daniels' Richard Pryor Biopic Is Officially Ready to Go (Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Kate Hudson) Lee Daniels' Richard Pryor Biopic Is Officially Ready to Go (Mike Epps, Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Kate Hudson) Righting a Past Wrong? Academy to Present Spike Lee with Honorary Oscar Righting a Past Wrong? Academy to Present Spike Lee with Honorary Oscar African-American Female Team Produce Indie Horror Film ‘The Dark Rite’ African-American Female Team Produce Indie Horror Film ‘The Dark Rite’ Viola Davis Says She Will Star in a Film Adaptation of 'Fences' Directed by Denzel Washington Viola Davis Says She Will Star in a Film Adaptation of 'Fences' Directed by Denzel Washington "This Is a Relationship" - Watch Michael Ealy Frighten Sanaa Lathan in Tense First Clip From 'The Perfect Guy' "This Is a Relationship" - Watch Michael Ealy Frighten Sanaa Lathan in Tense First Clip From 'The Perfect Guy' Vin Diesel Says He's Returning for a 'xXx' Threequel - Filming to Start in December Vin Diesel Says He's Returning for a 'xXx' Threequel - Filming to Start in December Updates on Steve McQueen's "Epic" Series Centered on a Black Community in London, Over 3 Decades Updates on Steve McQueen's "Epic" Series Centered on a Black Community in London, Over 3 Decades This Is What Angela Bassett and Naomi Campbell Will Look Like in 'American Horror Story: Hotel' This Is What Angela Bassett and Naomi Campbell Will Look Like in 'American Horror Story: Hotel' Quentin Tarantino Says 'The Hateful Eight' Will Be Timely & Will Tackle White Supremacy Quentin Tarantino Says 'The Hateful Eight' Will Be Timely & Will Tackle White Supremacy But What About Black Superheroines, You Ask? Watch Episode 1 of CW Seed's Vixen Series But What About Black Superheroines, You Ask? Watch Episode 1 of CW Seed's Vixen Series Watch: Trailer for Miniseries Based on Life of Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz (Coming This Fall) Watch: Trailer for Miniseries Based on Life of Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz (Coming This Fall) Watch: First Look at Season Three of 'Hit the Floor' Watch: First Look at Season Three of 'Hit the Floor' Brad Pitt's Plan B + 'Ex Machina' Distribution Company Team up for Barry Jenkins' 'Moonlight' Brad Pitt's Plan B + 'Ex Machina' Distribution Company Team up for Barry Jenkins' 'Moonlight' Jay Ellis and Yvonne Orji Join Issa Rae in 'Insecure' for HBO Jay Ellis and Yvonne Orji Join Issa Rae in 'Insecure' for HBO Tupac Shakur Facebook Page Posts Cryptic Message on Upcoming "Special Announcement." Biopic News? Tupac Shakur Facebook Page Posts Cryptic Message on Upcoming "Special Announcement." Biopic News? Weekend B.O. Aug 21-23 (F. Gary Gray Becomes a Prominent Member of the $100 Million Black Directors Club) Weekend B.O. Aug 21-23 (F. Gary Gray Becomes a Prominent Member of the $100 Million Black Directors Club) Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... AFM News: Danny Glover, Derek Luke Will Play Prison Inmates In 3D Drama 'Long Day Journey' AFM News: Danny Glover, Derek Luke Will Play Prison Inmates In 3D Drama 'Long Day Journey'

Preview 'Sonata Mulattica' (Examines Obscure Legacy Of George Polgreen Bridgetower)

Shadow and Act By Courtney | Shadow and Act October 29, 2012 at 11:22AM

It was about a month ago that Sergio profiled an upcoming new documentary on Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, one of the most famous classical music composers, who also happens to be of African descent, and a name that many are likely not familiar with.
2
Sonata Mulattica

It was about a month ago that Sergio profiled an upcoming new documentary on Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, one of the most famous classical music composers, who also happens to be of African descent, and a name that many are likely not familiar with.

In addition to the Coleridge-Taylor project, you should know that there's another documentary in production on another black classical musician of yesteryear, who has gone mostly unrecognized - George Polgreen Bridgetower.

Classical music's power as a catalyst for love and forgiveness plays a starring role in the upcoming documentary film Sonata Mulattica, produced by Spark Media with support from the Fetzer Institute. The film weaves the stories and contrasting fortunes of two gifted musicians of African descent - Bridgetower and young Joshua Coyne, a contemporary violinist severely abused as a toddler, later adopted by a loving mother, and soon discovers his gift for classical music.

The film examines the obscure legacy of George Polgreen Bridgetower, the 19th century violin prodigy revived for history by former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, who rose from obscurity to a brief run of European fame in the 18th century.

A little about Bridgetower:

Born to a Polish-German woman and an Afro-Caribbean man who claimed to be an African prince, George Bridgetower was a child prodigy violinist. He electrified late 18th century Europe, riveting royal audiences, his innate gift transcending boundaries of class, race and culture. In 1803, Bridgetower met luminary, Ludwig van Beethoven, and struck up a fast friendship. Beethoven was so inspired by the young master, he named one of his greatest violin sonatas, #9, "sonata per uno mulaticco lunattico." When they played it together, Bridgetower's performance was so astonishing Beethoven abruptly stopped playing, dashed across the stage to embrace the violinist, then returned to the piano to finish the recital. Regrettably, their bond would rupture over a woman, and an enraged Beethoven re-titled his work to "The Kreutzer Sonata," after French violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer, who never performed the piece and thought it was unplayable when he saw the sheet music. Bridgetower left Vienna for England. Despite his mixed heritage and a thriving trans-Atlantic slave trade, he got his degree at Cambridge and continued to perform, compose and teach. But unlike Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, this consummate artist would die a pauper in 1860, his virtuosity unknown.

A fascinating story that I'd like to see a scripted feature film made out of. But I won't hold my breath.

And now, thanks to Rita Dove, his time has come.

The film's backers (Stone Soup Productions) state that Bridgetower's dramatic biography will provide a springboard to explore issues of class and race in classical music, shedding light on how a minority could embrace a cultural heritage and defy expectations to thrive.

His life is in stark contrast to Coyne's, today, whose future seems limitless. At present, in addition to violin, he plays piano, saxophone, mandolin, viola, and guitar, is focused on composing, arranging and conducting, all while attending high school in Maryland. He is 17.

To capture the spirit of Rita Dove's lyrical work, the film will adopt an innovative structure, weaving history with contemporary artistic performances, connecting characters in the present to those in the past, using parallel threads to explore the lives of these two prodigies.

No word on when we can expect to see the completed work, but an enticing 9-minute preview of the film was released online, and is embedded below. It gives you a nice background behind the project, and the subjects it focuses on, the impetus for the work, its intent, etc.

Watch below (h/t Afro-Europe blog for the tip):


Shadow & ActNewsletter