Stephen Williams and Stefani Robinson are teaming up for Black Mozart biopic about the life of the 18th-century French composer Chevalier de Saint-Georges.
Williams who executive produced the HBO limited series Watchmen is set to direct the biopic based on Robinson’s original idea. An idea that she sold the idea to Searchlight. Robinson, who is an Emmy-nominated writer on Atlanta, will pen the screenplay based on her own idea about de Saint-Georges. The film will tell the story of the first known composer of classical music from African descent.
De Saint-Georges, real name Joseph Boulogne, was a prolific 18th-century French composer once dubbed the ‘Black Mozart’. Born the son of a slave and white plantation owner in 1745, Boulogne was a master fencer, violin virtuoso, leading conductor, and a composer in the court of Marie Antoinette.
Boulogne, as well as writing numerous symphonies, sonatas, concertos, operas, and string quartets, led one of Europe’s great orchestras, Le Concert des Amateurs. He was also the first black colonel in the French army and led an all-Black 800 infantrymen and 200 cavalries against France’s enemies.
Former US president John Adams called him “the most accomplished man in Europe”.
His influence on arts and culture was phenomenal. Boulogne reached the height of his fame within Marie Antoinette’s court, where he was one of her music teachers. Allegedly the Queen enjoyed playing with him publicly, and Boulogne was eventually fired because they got ‘too close’.
Born 11 years before Mozart, Boulogne was a contemporary of the young Austrian composer – who, it appears, was extremely jealous of him. There’s even a popular theory that Mozart used his jealousy of Boulogne to fuel the creation of the villainous black character Monostatos, who appears in his opera The Magic Flute.
Unfortunately, a lot of the Chevalier’s music was lost during the French Revolution, and what survived was quickly forgotten.
His story is largely untold. It has only been covered before in at least one book, The Other Mozart, and play, The Chevalier, – but never on this scale.
Chevalier will be Robinson’s feature writing debut. Searchlight Pictures will finance and distribute the film. SVP of production DanTram Nguyen, director of production Zahra Phillips, and manager Cornelia Burleigh, will oversee for the studio.
There is no confirmed release date yet for the biopic.
Variety first reported the news of the Black Mozart biopic.