Constanze Jacobi (1824‒1896)

Constanze Jacobi married Dawison (portrait cf.

The pianist and singer Constanze Erdmunde Jacobi was one of the first pupils of the Leipzig Conservatoire, founded in 1843, taking singing lessons from Henriette Bünau, née Grabau, and piano lessons from Robert Schumann. He counted her amongst his best pupils and dedicated her his Opus 95, “Three Songs from Lord Byron’s Hebrew Songs for one singing voice with the accompaniment of the harp or the piano”, composed in 1849. Furthermore, Constanze Jacobi studied with Felix Mendelssohn, who taught solo singing, instrument playing, and composition at the Leipzig Conservatoire in 1843. She made appearances as a pianist and as an alto with her “[rich and soulful voice]” (quoted after the newspaper Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of 05.04.1853, p. 647), mainly in Leipzig and Dresden.

From 1845, Constanze Jacobi lived in Dresden, where she was a frequent guest at the home of the Schumanns, especially between 1848 and 1850. She premiered several works by Robert Schumann, such as the “Spanish Song Cycle”, Op. 74, or the above “Three Songs”, at the music gatherings at the home of the Schumanns and also in public.

On 3rd January 1861, Constanze Jacobi married the actor Bogumil Dawison (1818-1872) and lived with him in Dresden; he was, inter alia, a Royal Saxon Court Actor and an Imperial-Royal Court Actor in Vienna and had previously been married to the Polish actress Wanda von Ostoja-Starzewska, who died in 1859. After her marriage, Constanze probably no longer appeared in public but rather accompanied her husband on his numerous trips as a guest actor, such as to Berlin in 1861 and to St Petersburg in 1862, or to Vienna in 1864/65. For 1866 and 1867, it is documented that Constanze accompanied him, each time for several months, to New York and other North American towns on the east coast. From 1867, together with her husband, she spent time for treatment at the health resorts of Bad Gastein and Bad Landeck (now Lądek-Zdrój), and in 1870 gave an account of her husband’s state of health to the editors of the trade newspaper “New Yorker Handelszeitung” [sic!, then reproduced in the Austrian daily newspaper Fremden-Blatt]. The report was published in several German-language magazines. Bogumil Dawison, physically and psychologically ill, died in 1872. Unfortunately, there are no details of Constanze’s life after 1872, when she lived as a widow in Dresden until her death in 1896.

The artist left a music album, held at the Heinrich Heine Institute in Düsseldorf. This album also contains an album entry by Robert Schumann of 1849, where he notated the piano piece “Rebus”, which had not been entered in the “Album for the Young”.

Cf. Bernhard R. Appel: Robert Schumanns “Album für die Jugend”, Zurich/Mainz, 1998, p. 67.
Cf. Fremden-Blatt, No. 244, Supplement 1, 4th September 1870, page 3 of the supplement, not numbered (report of Constanze Dawison).
Cf. Ost-Deutsche Post, No. 10 of 10th January 1861 (the notice of the marriage is on page 3, not numbered, in the third column on the top).
Cf. Robert Schumann. Tagebücher, Vol. II: 1836–1854, edited by Gerd Nauhaus, Leipzig, 1987, pp. 271, 619; also Robert Schumann. Tagebücher, Vol III: Haushaltbücher, Part 2: 1847–1856, edited by Gerd Nauhaus, Leipzig, 1982.
Cf. Wolfgang Seibold: Familie, Freunde, Zeitgenossen. Die Widmungsträger der Schumannschen Werke (= Schumann-Studien 5), Sinzig, 2008, pp. 127‒130.
Cf. on B. Dawison’s guest performances: Der Zwischen-Akt of 22nd August 1861, page 3, not numbered, col. 3; cf. Der Zwischen-Akt of 9th June 1862, page 3, not numbered, col. 2; cf. Tetschner Anzeiger, Year 11, No. 32 of 11th August 1866, p. 300; cf. Fremden-Blatt, Year 11, No. 87 of 30th March 1867, p. 5.

(Theresa Schlegel, 2020, translated by Thomas Henninger)

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