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George Bridgtower
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George Polgreen Bridgtower, violinist and composer, was the son of a Barbadian, Friedrich Bridgtower, who was the personal valet to the Prince of Austria. Friedrich married an Austrian woman and George, their eldest son, was born in 1779. The boy showed strong musical gifts from an early age: he may have been taught by the composer Haydn.

He made his debut as a professional violinist in Paris at the age of nine, and went on to play for the King and Queen of England at Windsor . By the age of twelve he was playing all over England as soloist or first violinist with professional orchestras.

The Prince of Wales took a particular liking to the young George, and for fourteen years he was first violinist in the Prince's private band, playing mostly in London and Brighton . In 1802 he left England for a concert tour in Germany and Austrian, where he met Beethoven. The composer was very impressed by Bridgtower, describing him as “an absolute master of his instrument”, and wrote what would later be known as the “Kreutzer Sonata” especially for him. Bridgtower gave the first ever performance of the work with Beethoven at his side.

In 1811 Bridgtower took the degree of Batchelor of Music at Cambridge University . In later life he taught music and travelled in Europe . He died in London in 1860.

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