The Story So Far

One of the first people to uncover the story of Joseph Antonio Emidy was the musicologist and lecturer, Dr. Richard McGrady who spent twenty years of research to piece together much of Emidy's story. In his book 'Music and Musicians in Early Nineteenth-Century Cornwall: The World of Joseph Emidy 'Slave, Violinist and Composer', McGrady sets the composer's life against the musical activities of the assemblies, harmonic societies, theatre, church and chapel in early nineteenth century Cornwall.

It was while writing the book that the only known picture of the African violinist came to light. 'A Musical Club, Truro', dated November 8, 1808, shows a group of musicians with Emidy leading them on the violin (now in the Royal Cornwall Museum). This picture was used for the cover of McGrady's book and most subsequent visual presentations of Emidy's story, as it is the only surviving visual portrayal of the man. It was also Dr. Richard McGrady who was responsible for Joseph Emidy's entry in the Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians in 2000.

When Marjorie Emidy began researching into her family history in 1976 she never imagined it would unearth such an amazing ancestor as Joseph Antonio Emidy. Her pursuit of his story took her from her home in Viroqua, USA, to Cornwall, UK where she met Dr. Richard McGrady and on to Lisbon, Portugal. She has spent over the last twenty-five years researching the Emidy Family Tree, which is documented in her book 'The Emidy Family' published in America in 2000. Marjorie is a fifth-generation descendant of Joseph Emidy through the line of Thomas H. Emidy, Joseph Emidy's second son who remained in Truro until his death.