Joseph Emidy

1775 – April 23, 1835

Classical Period

Born in Guinea

Born in West Africa in what is now the country of Guinea, Joseph Emidy was a virtuoso violinist and composer. At the age of 12 he was sold into slavery and taken to Brazil to work in the plantations there. Later, he was taken to Portugal where he learned to play the violin so well that he played in the orchestra for the opera in Lisbon. He was freed while in Lisbon; but that freedom was again taken away when an English naval commander saw him perform and sent a press gang to kidnap him to sail on his ship and perform for the sailors while they were at sea. Joseph spent 4 years on the ship until he was let go near Cornwall in England. The people there took him in and he became an influential part of the community performing, teaching and writing music. He is still celebrated today even though no copies of his music have been found.