August 6, 2010

Rogers Remembers Viardot-Garcia

Clara Kathleen Rogers attended the Leipzig Conservatorium of Music at the age of 13, being the youngest person to have been admitted.  While there she heard both Jenny Lind and Pauline Viardot-Garcia sing.  Here is Rogers' remembrance of Viardot-Garcia in her memoir Memories of a Musical Career (1919).  


Pauline Viardot-García


I also recall the surprise that Viardot Garcia gave us. She set aside a morning for the students at the Conservatorium, as we thought to sing for us, for she was at that time filling a Gastrolle at the Leipzig Opera House as Fides in Meyerbeer's "Prophete." But instead, what did she do but play a trio of Beethoven with David and Griitzmacher! And what is more, her playing of it, when compared to that of any of the best musicians of the day, was second to none! She sang to us afterwards. Her voice was not beautiful; it had not in itself the charm and insinuating quality that some far less celebrated singers possess, but her control over it, her execution, her dramatic fervor, were marvellous! She was also a musician through and through and one felt it in all she did.

I've read the same observation elsewhere, that Viardot-Garcia's voice was not beautiful.  One writer even said that it sounded like bitter oranges.  Even so, she had great success both as a singer and voice teacher.  One of Viardot-Garcia's students was Anna E. Schoen-Rene´, who taught Risé Stevens, Mack Harrell, Margaret Harshaw,  Florence Easton and many others. 

You can read the rest of Rogers' memoir here.

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