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The Bridgetower Sonata
The Bridgetower Sonata

The Bridgetower Sonata

Sonata Mulattica


352 Pages, 6 x 9

Cloth, $27.00 (US $27.00) (CA $36.00)

Publication Date: April 2021

ISBN 9781943156887

Rights: WOR

Schaffner Press (Apr 2021)
Schaffner Press, Inc.

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This satirical novel set in the turbulent and creatively vibrant era of 18th Century Europe exposes the hypocrisies of the times in the portrayal of George Bridgetower, the young violin prodigy of mixed-race origins who literally set the courtly world on its ear, and was a protegé of Joseph Haydn and Ludwig Van Beethoven

In this vividly imagined historical novel, acclaimed Congolese author Emmanuel Dongala has focused his laser-sharp wit on the life and times of George Bridgetower, a young violin prodigy, who, at the age of nine, took the courtly world of 18th century Europe by storm—and surprise, given the youth's unusual origins: for George was of mixed-race parentage, known in the parlance of the day as a mulatto. Though his opportunistic father and de facto manager was Barbadan and dark-skinned, while his mother was a Polish handmaiden in the Viennese court, this young virtuoso, proclaimed as the "Black Mozart," was welcomed into the high society of Tout-Paris on the eve of the French Revolution. After he and his opportunistic father fled to England, George became a court favorite of the Prince of Wales where his fame spread widely across Europe. He eventually arrived in Vienna and became close friends with Ludwig Van Beethoven, but fell out of grace due to an errant remark about the composer's love interest. Brimming with lively detail and dialogue and with cameo appearances from historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Haydn, William Herschel, and others.


"Charming in its details and sharply perceptive in its intent, this fluidly translated work is not just for music lovers but for everyone interested in the culture and history of its setting, and in the risks of friendship." —Edward Cone, Library Journal 

"A delightful narrative about a young 18th century virtuoso violinist of mixed-race. Highly recommended for admirers of classical music and revolutionary history." —Lauren, Literary Bread

"A terrific historical novel, as well as an impressive coming-of-age story, The Bridgetower Sonata embraces the history of music, slavery, and the black condition at the turn of the 19th century." —Albertine

"Dongala writes about the music of the day with keen ear, and about the social and political landscape with a historian's eye for detail...taking you inside the head of a colourful cast of characters." —Limelight

Author Biography

Emmanuel Dongala is an internationally acclaimed Congolese novelist (Johnny Mad Dog and Little Boys Come from the Stars), and former chemistry professor at Bard College. Marjolijn de Jager is an award-winning translator of both French and Dutch.