Thousands demand memorial for Beethoven’s African violinist

More than 15,000 people have signed a petition to erect a plaque in Bath, England, in memory of George Polgreen Bridgetower, a violinist who gave the first performance with Beethoven of the future Kreutzer Sonata.

The pair soon fell out and Beethoven renamed the sonata after a more famous French violinist.

Bridgetower (1778-1860), born in Poland to an African father and German mother, grew up on the Esterhazy estate in Hungary, where he was taught the violin by members of Haydn’s orchestra. The King of England, George III, was impressed by his playing and paid for the rest of his education. His connection with Beethoven was the high point of his career. Bridgetower returned to London from Vienna soon after and lived quietly.

The petition is seeking a plaque on the Assembly Rooms, Bath, where he is known to have played.