Pauline Garcia-Viardot

Pauline Garcia-Viardot

Birth
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Death 18 May 1910 (aged 88)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Memorial ID 28743520 · View Source
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Opera Singer. A mezzo soprano, she is remembered as one of the 19th century's premier artists. Born Michelle Ferdinande Pauline Garcia to a distinguished Spanish operatic family, she was well-traveled as a child, becoming fluent in French, Spanish, English, and Italian by age six, then latter adding Russian while attached to the St. Petersburg Opera from 1843 to 1846. Her ambition was to become a concert pianist, and while her earliest musical training came from her singer father, she also studied with the great Franz Liszt and with Beethoven's friend Anton Reicha, teacher of both Liszt and Hector Berlioz. Following her father's 1832 death, her mother, soprano Joaquina Sitchez, took-over her education and pushed her to become a singer. Pauline's professional debut was as piano accompanist for her brother-in-law, violinist Charles Auguste de Beriot, and she was also to play for her older sister, the legendary contralto Maria Malibran. After Maria's untimely death in 1836, she concentrated on singing, though she never gave up the piano, even playing duets with her friend Frederic Chopin and being allowed to re-arrange some of his compositions. Pauline gave her first recital as a singer at Brussels in 1837 and made her 1839 operatic bow in London as Desdemona in Rossini's "Otello". She married the much older operatic director Louis Viardot (1800-1883) on April 18, 1840 and was apparently happy and devoted to her husband and four children, though she was to have a string of romantic attachments for many years; the Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev lived in her home, while she was also linked to composers Berlioz and Charles Gounod. The creator of several roles including the title character of Charles Gounod's "Sapho" and Fides in Giacomo Meyerbeer's "Le prophete", she was probably best known for the title role of Gluck's "Orpheus et Eurydice", singing it about 150 times, the title lead of Rossini's "La Cenerentola" and Rosina in the same composer's "The Barber of Saville", as well as for both Zerlina and Donna Anna in Mozart's "Don Giovanni", all save the Gluck piece works with which her family has been closely associated. A close friend of author George Sand and her lover Chopin, she was the model for the title character of Sand's 1843 novel "Consuelo", and was to sing a portion of Mozart's "Requiem" for Chopin's 1849 funeral. Camille Saint-Saens dedicated his "Samson and Delilah" to her and chose her to premiere the title role, though she declined the honor due to ill health. Pauline retired in 1863 and had to live in Baden-Baden, Germany for a time due to her husband's political problems, but in 1870 Brahms was able to convince her to sing the world premiere of his "Alto Rhapsody" at Jena. Returning to Paris in late 1870, she taught at the Paris Conservatoire while presiding over a noted music salon until her husband's death. Having purchased Mozart's original score for "Don Giovanni" in 1855, she exhibited it, then donated it to the Paris Conservatoire in 1892. In later years she returned to composition, having previously written numerous vocal and instrumental works which were considered by Liszt to represent "genius", and produced five small operas, the last, "Cendrillon", in 1904. Today, the Villa Viardot, a gift from Turgenev, is a venue for concerts and master classes.

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 3 Aug 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 28743520
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Pauline Garcia-Viardot (18 Jul 1821–18 May 1910), Find A Grave Memorial no. 28743520, citing Cimetiere de Montmartre, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .