Pauline Viardot-Garcia (1821–1910)

Pauline Viardot-Garcia
Pauline Viardot-Garcia, portrait Reproduction of a photography by Erwin Hanfstaengl, Frankfurt (Robert-Schumann-Haus, Zwickau)


Clara Schumann and Pauline Viardot-Garcia, the younger sister of Malibran met already in 1838 in Leipzig, as both were young, aspiring musicians. They quickly became friends and remained in contact until Clara's death, even though they were very different in temperament and way of living. Clara was fascinated by Pauline’s impulsiveness and carelessness. Pauline called her friend "Clärchen" and rejoiced the same way in meeting her or receiving a letter from her. During Clara's stay in Paris in 1839, they almost spent every day together. In 1843 they performed together with Mendelssohn in a concert in Leipzig; in 1856 they met in London, in 1858 in Budapest and in 1862 again in Paris. A year later, Clara Schumann contributed in Pauline's last public concert.

After her retreat from stage, Pauline Viardot-Garcia lived ten years in Baden-Baden. Nearby, in Liechtenthal, also Clara spent her summers in these years. Her friend encouraged her to buy this house that was from 1862 to 1873 to the center of Schumann's family life. In the Villa Viardot Pauline gathered many of her students and organized concerts, which were also attended by the highest nobility. Pauline's luxurious lifestyle was not appreciated by her serious friend, but after Clara experienced the performance of three small operettas composed by Pauline herself, who rehearsed them with her children and students, she wrote to Brahms: "... I was again confirmed what I always said, she is the most brilliant woman I have ever seen. "

In 1844 Pauline stated at the end of her triumphant tour to Russia, as Clara and Robert Schumann had just arrived: "I leave you Clara Schumann here. Her singing with the piano is better than mine. "

After Pauline's return to Paris in 1871, the contact between the two women was only sporadical, but Clara Schumann initiated for instance an appointment for Pauline Viardot’s daughter Louise Héritte as a singing teacher at the Dr. Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. In 1884 the last encounter of the two "oldest friends of this century," took place in Frankfurt, as Pauline Viardot wrote to Clara in 1892, in Frankfurt.

(Julia M. Nauhaus/Ingrid Bodsch, translated by Katharina Ma)

Cp. also [ Pauline Viardot-Garcia ]

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