Viardot-Garcia, Pauline

BORN 18 Jul 1821, Paris - DIED 18 May 1910, Paris
REAL NAME Garcia, Michelle Ferdinande Pauline
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Montmartre Cimetière, 20 Avenue Rachel (division 28)

Mezzosoprano Pauline Garcia was the daughter of tenor Manuel del Pópulo Vicente García and the younger sister of the singer Maria Malibran. She was taught the piano by the young Franz Liszt and also studied with Anton Reicha. Her mother wanted her to concetrate on singing and reluctantly she gave up the piano.

In 1837 she gave her first performance in Brussels and in 1839 she joined the Italian opera in London where she impressed her public immediately. In 1840 she married the French author Louis Viardot who was twenty-one years older than she was. She had been courted by Alfred de Musset, but Viardot offered a more stable financial perspective. Even if it was a marriage of convenience, Viardot was devoted to her and her children.

Pauline spoke French, Italian, Spanish, English, German and Russian and wrote many songs. She also authored several operettas, among them "L'Ogre" (1868). George Sand turned her into the hero of her novel "Consuelo" (1843).

In 1863 she left the stage and left France for Baden-Baden in Germany because of her husband's public opposition to Napoleon III. In 1870 she sang at the first public performance of the Alto Rhapsody by Johannes Brahms on his specific request. After the fall of Napoleon III she settled as a vocal teacher in Paris in 1871. She was very close with Ivan Turgenjev, who often lived near the Viardots. It is unclear if they were ever lovers but Pauline was certainly his muse.

• Daughter: Viardot, Marianne
• Husband: Viardot, Louis (1840-1883)

Related persons
• was teacher to Brandt, Marianne
• was visited by Fauré, Gabriel Urbain
• was a friend of Gounod, Charles François
• detested Grisi, Giulia
• knew Kemble, Adelaide
• knew Lind, Jenny
• was pupil to Liszt, Franz
• was teacher to Litvinne, Félia
• is brother/sister of Malibran-Garcia, Maria Felicità
• was pupil to Reicha, Anton
• was painted by Scheffer, Ary
• was teacher to Suttner, Bertha von
• was visited by Wagner, Richard

12/8/1845Beethoven statue in Bonn unveiled. It was created by Ernst Hähnel and unveiled in honour of the 75th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. Franz Liszt was actively involved in the project and donated over 10,000 francs. Schlegel had been the head of the organising committee but he died in May, 1845. Professor Heinrich Breidenstein, who had first expressed the idea, took over his position. The ceremony was attended by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Hector Berlioz, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Ignaz Moscheles, Charles Hallé, Jenny Lind, Pauline Viardot, Lola Montez, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn and Maria Kalergis. [Berlioz, Hector][Hallé, Charles][Lind, Jenny][Liszt, Franz][Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix][Meyerbeer, Giacomo][Montez, Lola][Schumann, Robert]
16/4/1849Premiere of Meyerbeer's "Le prophète" with Pauline Viardot as Fidès. It was performed by the Opera of Paris at the Salle Le Peletier. Jeanne-Anaïs Castellan was Berthe and Gustave-Hippolyte Roger was Jean. Narcisse Girard was the conductor. In the audience were Chopin, Verdi, Théophile Gautier, Delacroix, Ivan Turgenev and Berlioz. It was a great succes and in July it was performed at Covent Garden in London. [Berlioz, Hector][Chopin, Frédéric François][Delacroix, Eugène][Gautier, Théophile][Girard, Narcisse][Meyerbeer, Giacomo][Verdi, Giuseppe]
30/10/1849Funeral service for Chopin at the Église de la Madeleine in Paris. According to his last wishes, Mozart's "Requiem" was performed by Jeanne-Anaïs Castellan (soprano) and Pauline Viardot-Garcia (mazzo-soprano). Viardot's voice was reported to be soaring above the chorus and orchestra. They were singing incognito behind a black curtain, because women were forbidden to sing in churches and special permission had to be obtained for this performance. The male singers were Alexis Dupont and Luigi Lablache. The conductor was Narcisse Girard. [Chopin, Frédéric François][Girard, Narcisse]
0/7/1860Act Two of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde is performed at the house of Pauline Viardot. It was performed by Pauline Viardot, Richard Wagner himself and Karl Klindworth. Hector Berlioz and Marie Kalergis, in whose honour the event was organised, were present. [Berlioz, Hector][Klindworth, Karl][Wagner, Richard]
2/12/1877Premiere of "Samson et Dalila" by Saint-Saens in Weimar. The opera was performed at the Grossherzogliches Theater in a German translation. The part of Dalila was written for Pauline Viardot but she was no long able to sing it and it went to Auguste von Müller. The conductor was Eduard Lassen. [Saint-Saens, Charles Camille]


The grave of Pauline Viardot-Garcia and Louis Viardot at Montmarte Cimetière, Paris.
Picture by Androom (18 May 2005)


• Steen, Michael, Enchantress of Nations, Pauline Viardot: Soprano, Muse and Lover, Allen & Unwin Pry, Crows Nest, 2007
Pauline Viardot - Wikipedia
The Hector Berlioz Website: Berlioz and Wagner

Victoria Adelaide Mary Louise, Princess Royal

Published: 20 Dec 2008
Last update: 21 Nov 2019