George's first London appearance took place at one of the Lenten oratorio performances at Drury Lane Theatre on 19 February 1790, when he played a concerto between the first and second parts of Handel's Messiah . The next day the Public Advertiser and the London Chronicle praised young Bridgetower for having provided "utmost satisfaction", but both papers were eager to report on the "African Prince" and his delight in his son's success.
It is likely that the success of the Drury Lane concerts attracted
the attention of the Prince of Wales because a few months later,
on 2 June, Bridgetower and the Austrian violinist Franz Clement,
another child prodigy, gave a benefit concert at the Hanover Square
Rooms. It seems that from this point on Bridgetower enjoyed the
patronage of the Prince.
Bridgetower's principal violin master, under the Prince's direction,
was François-Hippolyte Barthélémon (long-term
orchestra leader at the Royal Opera). Bridgetower is also said to
have studied the violin under Giovanni Giornovichi (Ivan Jarnovic),
the Italian-born Croatian composer and virtuouso violinist. In addition
he studied composition with Thomas Attwood, organist at St Paul's
and professor at the Royal Academy of Music. After his initial year
in England it appears that young Bridgetower was well and truly
launched into life as a professional musician.
Guest-curated for the British Library by Mike Phillips
Next - 'Bridgetower, Brighton and the Prince of Wales'