The multi-talented leading lady of Pushing Pawns, Esther Toussaint, wants above all things to emulate the little known 18th Century genius Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799). Born to a Senegalese woman enslaved in Guadeloupe, he became the finest swordsman in France and won fame throughout Europe as a violinist, conductor, and composer.
He was also a hero of the French Revolution. In 1791 he was appointed colonel of the newly created Légion Franche de Cavalerie des Américains (American Free Legion of Calvary); due to his military prowess, it soon became known as the Légion Saint-Georges.
Known to many as "the Black Mozart" — a term Esther despises — this dashing figure was exceptionally fortunate in that his father acknowledged him and ensured that he was educated in France and received at court. Needless to say, most children of slaves in the French Caribbean experienced the same brutal oppression as their forebears.
The Chevalier de Saint-Georges was long forgotten to history but is now being rediscovered by a new generation of music lovers and youngsters like Esther, in search of Afrodescendant heroes to inspire them in their struggles.
Here’s a sample of his music: