May 19, 2014

Finding Manuel García I in Pére Lachaise (and a few other things)


You really didn't think I would go all the way to Paris, locate Pauline Viardot-García in Montmartre Cemetery, and leave without locating her father, did you? That's exactly what I set out to do on a windy, somewhat rainy morning on May 12th. Finding the division in which the great García was buried wasn't a problem. However, finding his grave stone within that division wasn't easy, if only because I relied on information from a google search, which, as I later found out, was incomplete. What was I going on? Information that told me García's grave stone was near Moliére's tomb, which is true enough if you know what you are looking for. But I couldn't find anything with García's name on it. So, after looking all over the 25th division for an hour, I gave up, went back to the apartment where we were staying, and did a comprehensive search.  

Pére Lachaise Cemetery is a big place, and somewhat confusing when encountered for the first time. As it is, García's grave is located at the intersection of the 24th, 25th, and 26th divisions—right on the corner of the 25th to be exact. My second trip, on a sunny morning a few days later? Well… I forgot to take my iPhone with me, so did not snap my own photograph of the great singer's resting place as I did when I went to Viardot-García's grave in Montmartre. Sorry! However, you can see what it looks like if you go to Pére Lachaise's virtual site. Just click on the dot at the intersection of aforementioned divisions. How will you know what you are looking for? Open another page on your browser, and go to this excellent page, and then go back to the virtual site. If I had done this before my first visit, I would have found García within minutes. 

The big problem? The last link is correct insofar as the lettering on García's grave is almost worn off from the elements. That's one reason I had such a hard time. Within a decade or so, it will be unmarked. The link also shows the family grave of García II's first wife, Eugenie Mayer, which is almost directly across from that of Manuel García I in Pére Lachaise Cemetery in the 26th division, as well as that of Garcia II and his two sisters, the famous Malibran and Viardot-Garcia. All this from a Google search.

García's grave found, I stood on the path that borders division 25, which runs right in front of it, thought about his teachings which were recorded in his son's works, and which Herman Klein illuminated further in The Phono-Vocal Method, and got really, really quiet. 

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