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date: 15 October 2019

Saint Germain, Count oflocked

  • J.H. Calmeyer

Extract

(d Eckernförde, Feb 27, 1784). Courtier, adventurer, amateur scientist, inventor and dilettante musician. He purposely concealed his background and identity, and used such pseudonyms as Count Welldone, Prince Ragotzy, Count Bellamare and Count Surmont on his wide travels throughout Europe. Further confusion has arisen with the like-named French general Claude Louis de Saint Germain and with Robert-François Quesnay de Saint Germain, an ardent occultist who may have written the essays La très sainte Trinosofie and La magie sainte (still used by Freemasons) that are attributed to the count. Gerber, alone among the many commentators on Saint Germain’s life (which has many times been made the subject of fiction, by George Sand and Bulwer-Lytton for instance), maintained that he was identical with an obscure violinist and composer in Berlin named Giovannini, but this is improbable. Saint Germain was most likely either the son of Franz Leopold Rákóczi, exiled Prince of Transylvania, or the illegitimate son of Maria-Anna of Neubourg, widow of Charles II of Spain. In his youth he was probably a protégé of the Grand Duke Gian Gastone (the last of the Medicis) and may have studied at Siena University. He appeared in London society from about ...

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C. Burney: A General History of Music from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period (London, 1776-89); ed. F. Mercer (London, 1935/R) [p. nos. refer to this edn]
Musical Quarterly
E.L. Gerber: Neues historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler
Music & Letters