Synopses & Reviews
The son of a white woman and an 'African Prince,' George Polgreen Bridgetower (1780 — 1860) travels to Vienna to meet 'bad-boy' genius Ludwig van Beethoven. The great composer"s subsequent sonata is originally dedicated to the young mulatto, but George, exuberant with acclaim, offends Beethoven over a woman. From this crucial encounter evolves a grandiose yet melancholy poetic tale.
from 'Vienna Spring'though dipped in ink, this Jacob
has grappled the shining messenger
for a glimpse of heaven
and won the battle: entirely master
of his instrument, he climbs the strings
agile as the monkeys from his father"s land.
Ah, Immortality has a new-wrought
human face. . . .
"This 12th collection from the former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize recipient is her third book-length narrative poem: it follows the real career of the violin prodigy George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1780 1860), 'a former pupil of Haydn, as well as the grandson/ of an African prince,' or so his promoters and teachers in England said. Moving to Vienna during the Napoleonic Wars, the violinist met and befriended the famously moody Beethoven, who was prepared to dedicate his famously difficult 'Kreutzer' Sonata to Bridgetower until a rivalry for the same woman drove them apart. Dove tells Bridgetower's story, and some of Beethoven's and Haydn's, in a heterogeneous profusion of short poems, some almost prosy, some glittering in their technique. In quatrains, a double villanelle, what looks like found text, short lines splayed all over a page and attractive description, Dove renders Bridgetower's frustrated genius: 'Music played for the soul is sheer pleasure;/ to play merely for pleasure is nothing/ but work.' Dove does not always achieve such subtleties those who loved her early work may think this book too long: few, though, will doubt the seriousness of her effort, her interest at once in the history of classical music and the changing meanings of race." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In a book-length lyric narrative inspired by history and imagination, a much celebrated poet re-creates the life of a nineteenth-century virtuoso violinist.
Detailing the volatile relationship between the black violinist George Bridgetower and Beethoven, this is a "masterful collection" (Los Angeles Times).
The son of a white woman and an "African Prince," George Polgreen Bridgetower (1780-1860) travels to Vienna to meet "bad-boy" genius Ludwig van Beethoven. The great composer's subsequent sonata is originally dedicated to the young mulatto, but George, exuberant with acclaim, offends Beethoven over a woman. From this crucial encounter evolves a grandiose yet melancholy poetic tale.
About the Author
Rita Dove, former U.S. Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and musician, lives in Charlottesville, where she is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.