Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome, Schwartz & Wade, 2011.
Joseph Boulogne was born in the West Indies in 1745. His mother was a slave on his white father's plantation. Cherished by his parents, he was educated and taught music from an early age. Joseph was extremely gifted, excelling at everything he tried.
When his father returned to France, Joseph and his mother accompanied him. Joseph was thrust into a world that did not accept him as a person of color. His talent was unmistakable though and he earned a place in the king's court as soloist, conductor and composer, even inspiring a young Mozart with his genius. He was also a master swordsman, a fact that intrigued the elementary music classes where we shared this book..
James Ransome drenches the paintings with sunlight and tropical color in Joseph's early island years. Later in France, the richness of the French court glows on the pages.
The Ransomes provide a wonderful opportunity here to learn of a less well known musician and his contributions to the world of classical music.