May 16, 2014

Finding Pauline Viardot-García in Montmartre


If you wondered about the dearth of posts these past two weeks, I can supply the answer: I have been in Paris. While visiting the City of Lights, I observed the teaching of a highly skilled vocal pedagogue (more on that later), and took time to trace the presence of the García family, which is very much part of  the city's history, their teaching being my life's work. First on my list was the resting place of Pauline Viardot-García, which is in Montmartre Cemetery, located a few blocks away from the famous Moulin Rouge. 


Viardot-García's grave was not hard to find, if only because it is clearly marked on a sign at the entrance with other famous inhabitants. A short walk up the hill and to the left, and there she was, right in the middle of 20th division, her name clearly marked on the grave stone, which stands almost nine feet tall, and contains a niche in which I found a long dead pot of flowers. The niche itself being designed to house a light, I imagined finding her in the dusk of evening among the other tombs, many of which would also have been alight, an experience which would be quite evocative, and brought to mind Samuel Barber's song The Desire for Hermitage, which sang silently throughout my visit. 


With Mme. Viardot-García is her husband Louis Viardot (d. 1883),  Jenny Viardot (d. 1849), Mme. Viardot (d. 1831), and J. Ruiz García (d. 1912). 

Pauline Viardot-García once said that the measure of a teacher could be found in his/her students. When I consider that her student Anna E. Schoen-René was highly successful as a teacher of voice, and taught my own teacher Margaret Harshaw, who was considered the doyenne of voice teachers and had a profound impact on many singers, I count myself very lucky indeed.

It was a honor to pay homage to The Oracle of Paris

4 comments:

  1. Daniel, I just love this post. You have such a great heart for honoring these great teachers of the past. Thank you for this tribute to such a wonderful lady. We all owe such a debt to the Garcia family. Thank you for this beautiful post.

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    1. Thank you, petersjj! I appreciate your comment very much!

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  2. Several composers are buried at Pere Lachaise and Rossini's is very grand like a miniature Gothic Cathedral. Must make a point of visiting Montmartere on my next visit.
    Thanks for your excellent blog.

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    1. Thank you for your comment Vecchio John. I went to Pere Lachaise as well, but that is another post! Regards- Daniel

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