Saturday, June 27, 2015

African Violinist Kidnapped by Naval Officer

                                  Joseph Emidy playing with the Truro Philharmic Orchestra
                                  This painting is on display at the Royal Cornwall Museum,
                                   in the United Kingdom.  From AfriClassical

Here is the entire painting in black and white.

Joseph Antonio Emidy is not a household name, (in my house, anyway) yet he was acclaimed in Lisbon, Portugal for his ability to play the violin.

Born in 1775 in West Africa and enslaved by a slave master in Brazil, he was later transported to Lisbon, Portugal at the age of 12.  Noticing that he had a passion for music, his slave master gave him a violin and music lessons with a teacher.  Joseph Emidy became so skilled in playing the violin that he became one of the second violins in the orchestra at the Lisbon Opera after about four years of lessons.

He was then kidnapped by a naval commander, Sir Edward Pellew, who saw his performances at the Lisbon Opera and was very impressed.  Sir Edward brought Emidy to his ship, the Indefatigueable, while it was undergoing repairs.  For the next four years, Emidy entertained the ship’s mates, after which we was discharged at the Port of Falmouth, Cornwall, United Kingdom.  He then became a teacher and played in the Truro Philharonic Orchestra.  He was a composer of concertos and symphonies, but none of his music has survived.  He died on April 23, 1835 in Truro, Cornwall.

More details about Joseph Emidy are written in Dr. Richard McGrady’s book, Music and Musicians in Early Nineteenth-Century Cornwall: The World of Joseph Emidy 'Slave, Violinist and Composer.    One of Joseph Emidy’s ancestors, Marjorie Emidy, of the United States, discovered her relationship to Joseph Emidy while tracing her family tree.  She wrote a book, The Emidy Family in 2000.  Additionally, James Silk Buckingham, a Cornish-born author, wrote extensively about Joseph Antonio Emidy in his own autobigraphy, which was completed in 1855.

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