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MS Mus 232

Viardot-Garcia, Pauline, 1821-1910. Pauline Viardot-Garcia papers, 1836-1905: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b
Call No.: MS Mus 232
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Viardot-Garcia, Pauline, 1821-1910.
Title: Pauline Viardot-Garcia papers,
Date(s): 1836-1905.
Quantity: 1 collection (4 boxes (2 linear ft.)
Abstract: Correspondence, literary, and musical compositions by Pauline Viardot-Garcia and Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

*99M-19, *2001M-19. Purchased from Les Autographes, 45 Rue de l'Abbé Grégoire, 75006 Paris, France, with the Bayard Livingston Kilgour and Kate Gray Kilgour Funds; received: 1999 September 23 and 2001 September 12.

Custodial History:

Previous owners of this collection were Martine and André Le Cesne.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Barbara M. Wolff.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Pauline Viardot-Garcia Papers, 1836-1905 (MS Mus 232). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

Pauline Viardot-Garcia (1821-1910) was one of the most celebrated French mezzo sopranos of the 19th century, and a truly cosmopolitan woman artist. The collection reflects all aspects of her life: firstly as a singer, composer, and teacher; secondly as the mistress and muse of Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) whose papers she guarded after his death; and thirdly as the center of a large circle of friends, entertaining and collaborating with the intellectual and artistic elite of Paris, and, indeed, of Europe. Her support and friendship inspired Hector Berlioz, Johannes Brahms, César Franck, Jules Massenet, Giacomo Meyerbeer, and Camille Saint-Saëns to write major works for her. Other close friends included Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Corot, Gustave Doré, Heinrich Heine, Franz Liszt, George Sand, and Clara Schumann. Many of them enjoyed the warm hospitality and happy family life that included Pauline Viardot-Garcia's four talented children. See: April FitzLyon. The price of genius; a life of Pauline Viardot (London, 1964).


For additional information see: Patrick Waddington. The origins and composition of Turgene's novel Dym (Smoke), as seen from his first sketches. Pinehaven, New Zealand : Whirinaki Press, 1998. Patrick Waddington. The musical works of Pauline Viardot-Garcia (1821-1910): a chronological catalogue, with an index of titles. Pinehaven, New Zealand : Whirinaki Press, 2001.


Organized into the following series:

Scope and Contents

The collection contains letters addressed to PVG and her family by other family members and close friends such as Gounod and Meyerbeer; and letters to Turgenev from the later years of his life including, among others, Alphonse Daudet, Prosper Mérimée, and Emile Zola. The literary compositions include libretti of PVG's operetta projects, and of Ivan Turgenev's first drafts of the novel Smoke, short stories, and poems, mostly in Russian.
The musical compositions include works by other composers, from PVG's repertoire. They reflect PVG's involvement with contemporary music (the collection contains, among others, two autograph manuscripts by Gounod), but also her championship of historical repertoire (Scarlatti, Bach, Handel, Gluck). Her own compositions include the operetta Le dernier sorcier, written in collaboration with Turgenev, and over eighty unpublished songs, dating from her early days as a performer of her own works to the songs initiated by her teaching career in the 1870s and 1880s.
Correspondence and compositions are in French, if not noted otherwise.

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