George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1780-1860) was probably born
on 29 February 1780, although some authorities give 11 October 1778.
His birthplace was Biala in Poland, and his mother was a native
of that country. His father, who went by the name John Frederick
or Friedrich de August Bridgetower, apparently worked in the household
of Prince Nikolai Esterházy, where he gave several differtent
stories about his origins (a favourite being that he was an African
prince).The castle contained an opera house and a puppet theatre,
and boasted the composer Haydn as Kappelmeister. If Bridgetower
was a child prodigy, destiny clearly provided him with the best
possible environment and training, and he made his performing début
as a violinist, aged nine or 10, in Paris in April 1789. The journal
Le Mercure de France raved about his performance, concluding
that “his talent is one of the best replies one can give to
philosophers who wish to deprive people of his nation and his colour
of the opportunity to distinguish themselves in the arts”.
Guest-curated for the British Library by Mike Phillips
Next - 'Arrival in England and debut in Bath'