It can’t be said that his name is easy to remember or spell. In full, he is Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Or “Boulogne”, depending on your source.
And we’re not innocent here. We have had both spellings in our editions, recordings, biographies and products.But we have now settled on Bologne, for the following reason.
Joseph’s elder brother was called Pierre de Bologne. According to a petition he made in 1769-1770, the family traced its descent from the “noble and ancient house of Bologna, originating in Italy, and from the city of that name”.
Pierre enjoyed a significant reputation as a poet and was admitted to the Academy of the Inestricati of Bologna in Italy. To complicate matters, “Bologne” is the French spelling of the Italian “Bologna”.
This all seems straightforward.
But Joseph was after all French, and there is a beautiful seaside town called Boulogne in France, so we assume this is where the spelling came from. To our knowledge, there is no connection with the family there.
Here at Artaria, we often refer to him as Saint-Georges, and we admit that you could disagree with that. Technically the surname is “Bologne” and he’s from, or “of”, “Saint-Georges”, a reference to the small part of Guadeloupe where Joseph’s father, a slave-owner, farmed coffee.