Today we pay tribute to Pauline Viardot-Garcia, born in Paris on today’s date in 1821. Her father was Manuel Garcia, the tenor for whom Rossini had written the role of Count Almaviva in “The Barber of Seville.” Her older sister was the legendary operatic diva Maria Malibran, a famous interpreter of operas by Bellini and Donizetti.
Little Pauline wanted to be a piano virtuoso, and took lessons from Liszt, but at age 15 her mother decided she, too, should become a singer. Chopin adored her voice, and together they arranged some of his mazurkas as songs. Meyerbeer and Gounod wrote operatic roles for her.
In 1860, with the composer himself at the piano croaking out the tenor part of Tristan, Pauline sang the role of Isolde at the first private reading of music from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, and it was she who gave the premiere performance of Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody in 1870.
She married Louis Viardot, the director of the Theatre Italien in Paris, and at their home one was just as likely to meet Charles Dickens or Henry James as Berlioz or Tchaikovsky. She was also a composer of songs and chamber operas, which are receiving renewed attention.
Music Played in Today's Program
Viardot-Garcia, Pauline (1821-1910) 12 Poems by Pushkin, Fet and Turgenev: No. 12. Les étoiles (Laetitia Grimaldi, sop; Ammiel Bushakevitz, pno) Bis 2546
On This Day
1670 - Italian opera composer Giovanni Bononcini, in Modena; In 1720 he joined the Royal Academy of Music in London, where one faction favored Bononcini's works over those by Handel
1821 - French mezzo-soprano PaulineViardot-Garcia; She arranged some of Chopin's mazurkas as songs and performed them with the composer in concert; She also wrote an opera, "La Derniére Sorcière," that was performed in Weimar in 1869, and a chamber opera version of "Cendrillon (Cinderella)" which was performed privately in 1904
1872 - Czech composer Julius Fucik, in Prague; A student of Dvorák's, he composed the famous "circus" march, "Entrance of the Gladiators";
1894 - Dutch-born American composer Bernard Wagenaar, in Arnhem; He was the son of the Dutch composer Johan Wagenaar (1862-1941); He came to the U.S. in 1920, was a violinist with the New York Philharmonic from 1921-23, and in 1927 became a composition teacher at the Juilliard Graduate School
1933 - Canadian composer R. Murray Schafrer, in Sarnia, Ontario
1954 - American composer Tobias Picker, in New York
1949 - Czech composer Vitezslav Novák, age 78, in Skutec, Slovakia
1713 - Handel: "Utrecht Te Deum," in London (Julian date: July 7)
1791 - Cherubini: opera, "Lodoiska, in Paris
1920 - Miaskovsky: Symphony No. 5, in Moscow
1972 - Panufnik: Violin Concerto, in London, with Yehudi Menuhin as soloist
1976 - Stockhausen: multi-media work "Sirius," in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian Institute
1984 - Sallinen: String Quartet No. 5 ("Pieces of Mosaic"), at the Kuhmo Festival in Finland, by the Kronos Quartet
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About Composers Datebook®
Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.
He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.