Chézy, Helmina von

BORN 26 Jan 1783, Berlin - DIED 28 Jan 1856, Genève
BIRTH NAME Klncke, Wilhelmine Christiane von
GRAVE LOCATION Genève, Genève: Cimetière de Plainpalais, Rue des Rois (H-820)

Helmina von Chézy was the daughter of the Prussian officer Carl Friedrich von Klencke. Her mother Caroline Louisa was a poet and the daughter from Anna Louisa Karch. Her parents had split before she was born. In 1799 she married, but in 1800 a divorce followed. After her mother's death she moved to Paris where she worked as a correspondent for German newspapers. From 1803 to 1807 she was the editor of "Französische Miszellen". In Paris she befriended Dorothea Schlegel and Dorothea introduced her to the orientalist Antoine-Léonard de Chézy. She married him in 1805 and two sons were born. Max von Chézy (1808-1846) became a painter.

In 1810 she translated Schlegel's lectures from French into German together with Adalbert von Chamisso. She had a short romantic affair with Von Chamisso and another affair with the orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall. In 1810 she and her husband parted. In 1812 she settled in Darmstadt and she worked as a hospital nurse during the German Campaign against Napoleon. After she criticised the conditions in the field she was charged for libel, but she was acquitted in Berlin by a court presided by E.T.A. Hoffmann.

In 1817 she moved to Dresden. There she wrote the libretto for Carl Maria von Weber's opera "Euryanthe" (1823). Von Weber liked her work but didn't like her ambition. In 1823 she moved on to Vienna. For her friend Josef Kupelwieser she wrote the drama "Rosamunda". Franz Schubert was to write an ouverture, but he was short of time and used the ouverture of the opera "Alfonso" from 1822 instead. On 20 December 1823 "Rosamunda" was staged but the public didn't like it and after the theatre was almost empty on the second night it was cancelled. In Vienna she met her hero Beethoven and in 1827 she attended his funeral.

She had difficult relations with her sons and in 1832 she lost her income after her former husband died. She lived with Max in Munich until he died 1848. Failing to find work as a journalist she moved to Geneva where she received a pension from a charitable foundation. Her eyesight failed and she was cared for by her niece Bertha Borngräber who wrote down her memoirs that were edited by Karl August Varnhagen von Ense. She died in Geneva in 1856 and was buried in that city.

Related persons
• knew Beethoven, Ludwig van
• cooperated with Chamisso, Adelbert von
• has a connection with Hoffmann, Ernst Theodor Amadeus
• was a friend of Schlegel, Dorothea von
• has a connection with Schubert, Franz
• cooperated with Weber, Carl Maria von

20/12/1823Hemina von Chézy's "Rosamunda" is staged at the Theater an der Wien. The public didn't like the play and after the seond night it was cancelled. It was created by Chézy on request of Joseph Kupelwieser, who intended it to be a benefit for his lover Emilie Neumann. Franz Schubert used the ouverture for the opera "Alfonso und Estralla" from 1822 as music for the play. The libretto of the play was recovered in 1996. [Schubert, Franz]


The grave of Helmina von Chézy at the Cimetière de Plainpalais, Genève.
Picture by Androom (21 Aug 2019)


Helmina von Chézy - Wikipedia
Ouvertüre zur Schauspielmusik «Rosamunde» D 797 — Tonkünstler-Orchester

Chichin, Fred

Published: 17 Dec 2022
Last update: 17 Dec 2022