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Chézy, Helmina von (1783–1856)

Chézy, Helmina von (1783–1856)

German musician and writer known for her librettos and incidental music as well as for her Viennese salon. Name variations: Chezy. Born Wilhelmina Christiane Klencke in Berlin, Germany, on January 26, 1783; died in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 28, 1856; married twice; children: two sons.

In Vienna, an eccentric, overweight, strangely dressed woman held an open house for artists and intellectuals. Although some made fun of Helmina von Chézy, these young people loved and appreciated her eccentricities. Von Chézy had written the libretto for Carl Maria von Weber's Euryanthe and for her own play Rosamunde for which Franz Schubert had written the music. A talented poet as well as musician, she also wrote the text for E.J.O. von Hettersdorf's Singspiel Eginhard und Emma.

Helmina von Chézy had two brief, unhappy marriages. Between them, she traveled to Paris to live with Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel (Dorothea Mendelssohn ), steeping herself in Romantic literature. Von Chézy returned to Germany in 1810, bringing her two young sons with her; from there, she went to Vienna, living in Austria from 1823 to 1833, when she received commissions for dramatic and musical work. Some of her dramas were severely criticized. Despite a rather strange personality and uneven gifts, Helmina von Chézy always had a wide circle of friends and admirers. She wrote Poems (1812), Heart Notes during a Pilgrimage (1833), and similar romantic stanzas, as well as the novel Emma's Ordeals (1827).

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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