Viardot-García, (Michelle Fedinande)Pauline

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Viardot-García, (Michelle Fedinande)Pauline

Viardot-García, (Michelle Fedinande)Pauline, celebrated French mezzo-soprano and pedagogue of Spanish descent, daughter of Manuel del Popolo García and sister of Maria Malibran; b. Paris, July 18, 1821; d. there, May 18, 1910. She commenced vocal training with her mother, then received lessons in piano from Meysenberg and Liszt and in composition from Reicha. Her concert debut was in Brussels in 1837; her stage debut was in London, May 9, 1839, as Desde-mona in Rossini’s Otello. She was then engaged by Louis Viardot, director of the Théâtre-Italien in Paris, where she scored a notable success in her debut as Desdemona on Oct. 8, 1839; she sang there until her marriage to Viardot in 1840, who then accompanied her on long tours throughout Europe. In 1843 she made her first appearances in Russia, where she won distinction singing in both Italian and Russian; in subsequent years she championed the cause of Russian music. She created the role of Fides in Meyerbeer’s Le Prophèteat the Paris Opéra in 1849, and that of Sapho in Gounod’s opera in 1851; after another succession of tours, she took the role of Orphée in Berlioz’s revival of Gluck’s opera at the Théâtre-Lyrique in Paris (1859), singing the part for 150 nights to crowded houses. She retired in 1863. Her École classique de chantwas publ. in Paris in 1861. In 1871 she settled in Paris, and devoted herself to teaching and composing. Through her efforts, the music of Gounod, Massenet, and Fauré was given wide hearing. She was one of the great dramatic singers of her era, excelling particularly in the works of Gluck, Meyerbeer, and Halévy. Among her compositions are some operettas. Two of her children were musicians: Louise (Pauline Marie) Héritte (b. Paris, Dec. 14, 1841; d. Heidelberg, Jan. 17, 1918) was a contralto, teacher, and composer who devoted herself mainly to teaching in St. Petersburg, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, and Heidelberg, publ. Memories and Adventures (London, 1913), and composed a comic opera, Lindoro (Weimar, 1879). Paul (Louis Joachim) (b. Courtavenel, July 20,1857; d. Algiers, Dec. 11,1941) was a violinist, conductor, and composer who studied with Léonard, conducted at the Paris Opéra, wrote the books Histoire de la musique (Paris, 1905), Rapport officiel (mission artistique de 1907) sur la musique en Scandinavie (Paris, 1908), and Souvenirs d’un artiste (Paris, 1910).


La Mara, P. V.-G.(Leipzig, 1882); L. Torrigi, P. V.-G.: Sa biographie, ses compositions, son enseignement (Geneva, 1901); C. Kaminski, Lettres à Mlle. V. d’Ivan Tourgéneff (Paris, 1907); L. Héritte-Viardot, Memories and Adventures (London, 1913; tr. from original Ger. MS; Fr. tr., Paris, 1923); A. Rachmanowa (pseud.), Die Liebe eines Lebens: Iwan Turgenjew und P. V.(Frauenfeld, 1952); A. FitzLyon, The Price of Genius: A Life of P. V.(London, 1964).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire