On a morning in May of 1803, Ludwig van Beethoven sat behind his piano on the stage of Augarten Theatre in Vienna and premiered his now-famous Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47. Reading the score over his shoulder was George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower, the up-and-coming, biracial, African-Polish prodigy.
The sonata had just been finished the night before, and there was no time for a rehearsal. The violinist took a chance at improvising, mimicking a difficult piano run, and Beethoven beamed.
“Once more, my dear fellow!” he jumped up and shouted, and the two played the movement again.