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George Onslow

Les Éditions du Mélophile have published the first complete biography (ISBN 2-9520076-0-8, 570 pages) of the French composer George Onslow (1784-1853) and have started to publish the complete critical edition of his thirty-six string quartets.

Baudime Jam, the biography's author, has gathered a great deal of documents in France, Germany and England, and enables us to know the life of this forgotten composer in all its aspects, and in great detail, with a relevant aesthetic and a historical sense of analysis.

The book is based entirely on original sources, such as letters, readings of the French and European press, writings and iconography, and most of these sources have never been published. It is meant as a reference, not only on this composer who deserves to be seriously rediscovered, but also on one of the richest times in the history of modern music. Onslow's career has to be linked with the great questionings which upset the musicians, journalists and audiences of his day. Studying his life means diving back into the deepest changes which modified the European artistic landscape at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

This biography should be translated into English before the end of 2004.

Baudime Jam is also responsible for the first full critical edition of George Onslow's thirty six string quartets, which had been unavailable for more than a century.

In the collection's preface, Serge Collot (of the Parrenin quartet, Trio français and the CNSM of Paris) writes: 'This edition of George Onslow's chamber music arrives just in time to enlarge the repertoire with an important missing link. This is a very complex task as the sources are very divergent. I completely trust Mr Baudime Jam to fulfil this assignment and I thank him heartily for this achievement.'

The new edition should enable the reintroduction of this music into the repertory. Several editions of the time have been studied and compared, so that, in some cases, two different versions of the same movement could be offered.

Baudime Jam was invited to give a number of lectures in order to introduce his work (which has been supported by, amongst others, the French Ministry of Culture). The lectures included those at Castle Chalendrat (28 September 2003), Clermont-Ferrand for the Alliance Française (16 October 2003), and at the University of La Sorbonne in Paris on 6 November 2003.

Baudime Jam, also a lecturer, a member of the Prima Vista quartet, and artistic director and founder of the festival Les soirées Onslow dans les chateaux d'Auvergne, is currently the leading Onslow specialist.


Posted: 16 January 2003

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