Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  44 ratings  ·  14 reviews
The musical superstar of 18th-century France was Joseph Boulogne—a black man. This inspiring story tells how Joseph, the only child of a black slave and her white master, becomes "the most accomplished man in Europe." After traveling from his native West Indies to study music in Paris, young Joseph is taunted about his skin color. Despite his classmates' cruel words, he co...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Schwartz & Wade (first published January 11th 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Before There Was Mozart, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Before There Was Mozart

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 109)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Sep 09, 2011 Carolynne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Malinda, Abigail, Gundula
Beautifully illustrated and inspirational story of the son of a slave and her wealthy master, a Frenchman. After moving from Guadaloupe to France, Joseph was able to take advantage of his natural musical gifts and became a prominent musician in 18th century Paris and even performed for King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. An accomplished violinist,he also wrote 14 concertos and nine symphonies. Later he came to fight for the abolition of slavery. Unfortunately, he is unknown to many music-lovers...more
This is a biography about Joesph Boulogne a not so well known classical artist. Joesph was born in 1739, his mother was a slave and his father a plantation owner. He was exposed to music at an early age and given violin lessons. When Joesph was nine the three moved to Paris where slavery was banned. Once in Paris, Joesph's father gave him the title, Chevalier de Saint George. To get along in Paris society a title was necessary.

I loved that the chapters were called movements. A favorite fact lea...more
This book shares the unique and interesting life story of Joseph Boulogne. Born to a black slave and a white plantation owner, Joseph's life begins different than most. Fascinated with music his whole life, Joseph moves to Paris with his mother and father at the age of 9. Despite the societal snubs he receives for being a "mulatto", Joseph excelled at the violin and his name became known among the most noble of people. He performed for King Louis and Queen Marie Antoinette and eventually became...more
Rodricucuz Vaughn

1. Genre: Contemporary or Historical– Picture Books

2. The Story of Joseph Boulogne is a true story of a brave boy who overcame racists prejudices and became one of the greatest classical musicians in all of European.

3. critique

a. " Before there Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne , Chealier de Saint-George" by Lesa Cline-Ransome is a wonderful historical bio picture book . The illustrations are like works of fine art. The colors are bright and live like. Deep oranges, reds , browns, blue...more
The book seems like a true historical story about Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George. Frankly speaking, you can read this picture book easily due to the fact that every picture shows the story. If I were a little child, I would rather to look at these pictures than to read the words in this book. The illustrations are easy to understand and vivid and those of pictures are obviously showed that the event occurred to the renaissance period. Though the book shows the dark side of the human-...more
Edward Sullivan
A handsomely illustrated introduction to the son of a white plantation owner and black slave who goes from the West Indies to France to become one of the most admired classical musicians and composers of his time. Although he was a contemporary of Mozart and lived a life of amazing achievements (especially given his mixed-race), it seems a little misleading to suggest that his accomplishments in classical music are as significant as Mozart's. Compare this book with another biography for children...more
Mrs. Tongate
A great read-aloud for secondary students for African American History Month and Arts & Humanities. Artwork is fabulous. Joseph play violin for Queen Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. Never before had a man of color entered the palace to perform for royalty. His midwife did say, "One day this boy will meet the king and queen of France."
Tanya Patrice
I borrowed this book from the library for my step-son who plays the violin. We read it together and it was a very good book. I would have liked to see just a few references perhaps in an afterwards, just to clarify a few points, such as how did the author know Mozart attended a concert by Bulogne, and was inspired by him.
Age: 2-3rd grade

Rich watercolor depict Joseph Boulogne's growing love of and expertise with the violin. A unique story of a child born of an African slave and a French plantation owner, he excels against outside persecution in order to conduct his own orchestra and perform in front of the queen and king of France.
Nice biography of this relatively overlooked black musician from the 18th century, the son of a slave and her white master. He grows up to compose operas and conduct orchestras, despite the racial injustices of the time. Absolutely gorgeous illustrations, as always, by Ransome.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
An interesting portrayal of the life and music of Joseph Boulogne. Very simplified on some level but a good introduction to his life and also to what it would be like to be the son of a white nobleman and a black slave during that period of time.
Danie P.
Excellent informational book about a little known composer and very interesting in regards to black/caribbean history.
The writing is great but the art was a little stiff.
Not my kind of book
Rhiannon marked it as to-read
Sep 01, 2014
Sara marked it as to-read
Aug 14, 2014
Samantha marked it as to-read
Aug 08, 2014
Sam added it
Jul 30, 2014
Ari marked it as to-read
Jul 28, 2014
Megan Reichelt
Megan Reichelt marked it as to-read
Jul 08, 2014
C.S.R. Calloway
C.S.R. Calloway marked it as to-read
Jul 05, 2014
Lyra Belacqua
Lyra Belacqua marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2014
Marc Ouimet
Marc Ouimet marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2014
Violinknitter marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2014
Florian marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2014
Ayla marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2014
Sarah Sammis
Sarah Sammis marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass Light in the Darkness: A Story about How Slaves Learned in Secret Satchel Paige Helen Keller: The World in Her Heart Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-And-White Jazz Band in History

Share This Book