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celebrating three hundred years of music by women

Pauline Viardot (1821-1910)

Berlioz described singer and composer Pauline Viardot as "one of the greatest artists ... in the past and present history of music." Her musical and dramatic gifts were greatly acclaimed. The circle round her and her husband Louis Viardot was one of the most distinguished in Paris. In her 150 appearances as Orpheus in Gluck's Orfeo et Euridice many agreed that she reached tragic heights rarely seen on stage. In 1862 Charles Dickens called this "a most extraordinary performance - full of quite sublime acting." As well as her phenomenal singing career, she found time to compose four operettas (three to librettos by her lover Ivan Turgenev), much vocal music and a few instrumental works. Robert Schumann's Op 24 and Saint-Saëns' Samson et Delila are dedicated to her.

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Sonatine pour violon et piano, A minor, 1874
1. Adagio, A minor. 2. Allegro, A minor. 3. Allegro, A minor. 10 mins
As a singer, she naturally shows lyrical qualities. This is a charming and equal duet, with a majestic yet flowing first movement, a scherzo-like second, and a coquettish finale, coloured by her gypsy background.
Hildegard Publishing Co.Juritz/Ambache CD can be bought on Ambache Recordings Liberté, Egalité, Sororité.

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The Price of Genius, A Life of Pauline Viardot by April Fitzlyon
Great singer though Pauline Viardot was, she was other things as well - a highly intelligent woman, the centre of a distinguished circle, a disseminator of ideas, and the inspiration and friend of many great men and women, including George Sand, Chopin, Liszt, Gounod, Berlioz, and above all Turgenev. The book also documents the role she played in 19th century musical life, and her importance as a bridge between the artistic cultures of western Europe and of Russia. While not particularly addressing her music, the book gives a fascinating account of her life.
Published by John Calder Ltd, 1964 (now owned by Oneworld Publications).

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