Edmond was a descendant of one of the more illustrious families of France. His grandmother, the duchesse de Polignac, had been the close friend of Queen Marie Antoinette. His father Auguste Jules Armand Marie, Prince de Polignac (1780–1847) was the Minister of State in the Restoration government of King Charles X, and was the author of the July Ordinances in 1830, which revoked the Constitution, suspended freedom of the press, and gave the king extraordinary powers, including absolute power in the name of "insuring the safety of the state".
The document resulted in the development of an insurgency and resulted in the "July Revolution" that ended the reign of the Bourbons. The king and his family went into exile, and his cabinet members were tried. Jules de Polignac was captured, tried, convicted and condemned in December 1830 to la mort civile: life imprisonment and a complete loss of civil rights. He was incarcerated in the fortress at Ham.
Jules de Polignac, who by his first wife Barbara Campbell had had one daughter and one son, by his second wife Mary Charlotte Parkyns (1792–1864), had, in 1830, two sons, and a daughter was born as he began his sentence. Despite the harsh sentence, visitation was allowed, and two more sons were born to Jules while he was imprisoned. Edmond was his last child, born in Paris on 19 April 1834.
Robert de Montesquiou, portrait by Giovanni Boldini, Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Robert de Montesquiou was a French aesthete, Symbolist poet, art collector and dandy. In 1875, he met Prince Edmond de Polignac. By 1892, Polignac, aged 57, was destitute. He had a lavender marriage with Winnaretta Singer, daughter of Isaac Singer, the sewing machine tycoon, and lesbian. Montesquiou, who felt Edmond owed him a debt of gratitude for effecting this marriage of convenience, felt slighted when Edmond was not sufficiently effulgent, and their friendship was irrevocably broken.
As his father was legally non-existent, Edmond was listed on his birth certificate as the son of 'the Prince called Marquis de Chalançon, presently on a trip'. In 1836 King Louis-Philippe granted a petition for the release of the imprisoned cabinet members on the grounds of their declining physical condition. Jules was released from jail with the proviso that he leave Paris permanently. The family moved to Bavaria, near Landau, where Jules was granted a second princely title by King Ludwig I of Bavaria, and built a château named "Wildthurn". Edmond received a classical education there, including instruction in Greek, Latin, modern languages, dancing and horseback riding. English, French and German were all spoken regularly in the household. Early on Edmond demonstrated an inclination toward performance and the creative arts, writing plays and comedies for the children's theatre built by his father. His elder brothers mocked him for his frailness and his lack of athleticism; as a sort of recompense, his parents permitted him to take lessons in piano and music theory.
In November 1845 the family returned to France, moving to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Two years later, on 30 March 1847, Jules de Polignac died. The remaining family moved to Paris in the rue de Berri, and Edmond continued his education with a preceptor in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. Edmond by now had determined that he would be a composer, though this dismayed his mother, who felt music was an acceptable hobby for an aristocrat, but not an acceptable profession.
Alphonse Thys was engaged to teach Edmond counterpoint, composition, and solfège. He entered the Conservatoire de Paris and studied harmony under Napoléon Henri Reber. His pre-existing frailty, the rigors of the conservatory curriculum, his chronic gastrointestinal problems, and the internal pressures of his concealed and, perhaps, mistrusted homosexuality led to periods of great musical productivity alternating with stretches of illness and inactivity. In 1860 Alfred Beaumont, director of the Opéra-Comique asked Edmond to supply the music for a libretto by Roger de Beauvoir. He composed an opéra bouffe, Un baiser de duchesse, but Beaumont left the Opéra-Comique before it could be produced. Depression, and family pressure to marry, ensued.
In 1861, Edmond and his brother Alphonse were founding members of the Cercle de l'Union Artistique, formed to promote performances of great music in venues other than theatres. Besides the aristocrats, the club included Gounod, Berlioz, Auber, and Catulle Mendès. The Cercle supported Wagner after Tannhäuser's resounding failure in its 1861 Paris Opera debut.
Edmond began writing for the amateur male choruses (orphéons) which had begun to proliferate in France, revealing a gift for choral composition, and winning first prizes in competitions for orpheonic works in 1865 and 1867. He also began to write for chamber ensembles. Opera, though, was the path to fame, and when the Ministry of Fine Arts mounted a contest in conjunction with the World's Fair in August 1867 for a new opera on the libretto La coupe du roi de Thulé, Edmond and forty-one other composers, entered. The winner, Eugène-Émile Diaz de la Péna, was a student of the chairman of the judging jury. The losers included Jules Massenet in second place and Georges Bizet in seventh place. Edmond's score, ranked fifth, had been rated lowly because its orchestration - calling for two bass clarinets - was considered horribly complicated.
Edmond joined other clubs for their social status: the Jockey Club, the most exclusive, and the Cercle de la rue Royale, a venue for idling, smoking cigars, discussing politics and the stock market. The indolence of the Cercle de la rue Royale, and of Edmond, was caught in James Tissot's 1868 painting Le Balcon du Cercle de la rue Royale. He buried himself in mystic obsessions and enthusiasms.
In 1875 a new friend entered his life, Comte Robert de Montesquiou, a beautiful and intelligent man twenty-one years his junior. They shared many interests, and it is possible they began a sexual relationship at that time. In his later years, Montesquiou used his wit to shield himself from sincere emotional interaction. He is remembered as a model for des Esseintes in Joris-Karl Huysmans' À rebours, and the Baron de Charlus in Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu. Through Montesquiou's circle, Polignac made the acquaintance of Élisabeth, comtesse Greffulhe and of Gabriel Fauré, and became a member of the Société Nationale de Musique, where his compositions were performed alongside those of Chausson, Debussy, and Fauré.
In 1879, Polignac independently "discovered" the octatonic scale, which had been used in Russian folk music for centuries. He used it for his three-part Passion oratorio, Échos de l'Orient judaïque, and in his incidental music for Salammbô. These works, though played, proved puzzling to audiences and critics.
By 1892, Polignac, aged 57, inept with money and impoverished through investments in a series of get-rich-quick schemes, was destitute; his nephews helped him with loans, but noted that desperate action was needed. The solution they suggested was marriage to a woman of appropriate means. Polignac discussed the matter with Montesquiou, who in turn discussed it with his cousin Élisabeth Greffulhe, and out of these conversations the name of Winnaretta Singer, daughter of Isaac Singer, the sewing machine tycoon, arose. Her marriage to Prince Louis de Scey-Montbéliard had lately been annulled. Her social status could be improved by marrying a prince, even a poor one. And the arrangement would have other benefits: Winnaretta was lesbian and not sexually interested in men at all. She was intimately interested in music, however, something the two did have in common. Polignac asked the comtesse Greffulhe to sound out Madame Singer on the subject of a mariage blanc (unconsummated marriage), in which each partner would have their own bed but would share artistic interests. Montesquiou, who collaborated with Winnaretta on some artistic projects, asked her to speak with Madame Greffulhe, and there the arguments were reviewed; her social position, compromised by divorce, would be improved by an alliance with one of the oldest and most distinguished aristocratic families in France; with the thirty-one year age difference, and the predilections of the bride and groom, Winnaretta would be free to lead her personal life as she wished, with no sexual demands from Edmond.
The advantages clear, a friendship and affection grew. In November 1893, Edmond proposed marriage to Winnaretta, and she accepted, a year after the idea had first been broached. On 15 December 1893, the couple was married by the Abbé de Broglie in the Chapelle des Carmes in Paris. The union received the blessing of Pope Leo XIII. Montesquiou, who felt Edmond owed him a debt of gratitude for effecting this marriage of convenience, felt slighted when Edmond was not sufficiently effulgent, and the friendship was irrevocably broken.
The marriage freed Edmond to create, and Winnaretta was happy to promote his creations. The happier they became, the more scurrilous the stories Montesquieu would spread about them. Winnaretta became close with Edmond's niece, Armande de Polignac, who was also a composer and musician. Winnaretta became a patron in public musical circles. With her husband, she hosted a music salon in her renovated atelier. With a vaulted two story ceiling, 12 x 10 meters, and housing a Cavaillé-Coll organ and two grand pianos, the room became a haven for Paris's musical and artistic avant-garde.
On Tuesdays, her organ evenings were especially sought after, and featured the great performers of the day, including Charles-Marie Widor, Eugène Gigout, Louis Vierne, Alexandre Guilmant and Gabriel Fauré. In 1894, Marcel Proust was introduced to the Polignacs through Montesquiou; as of 1895, he was a regular in the Polignac salon, often attending in the company of his current love interest and mutual friend of the Polignacs, composer Reynaldo Hahn. Much of Proust's musical "education" took place in the Polignac salon, and his letters to Edmond de Polignac reveal a profound admiration of the prince's music.
In 1894, Winnaretta produced a performance of Edmond's octatonic compositions at a charity event for the benefit of an orphanage. In 1901, she mounted another "all-Polignac" concert at the Conservatoire.
Through his friendship with Vincent d'Indy, Edmond became involved with the founding of the Schola Cantorum de Paris. Armande de Polignac was among the school's first students.
During the Dreyfus Affair in 1894, Edmond and his brother Camille were staunch Dreyfusards, while most of the rest of the Polignacs and a remarkable number of musicians were anti-Dreyfus.
The time remaining to the couple's marriage was spent in touring Europe, acquiring a palazzo in Venice, and promoting Edmond's compositions. Shortly before his death, Polignac collaborated with the dancer Isadora Duncan.
Edmond de Polignac died of a febrile illness, on 8 August 1901. He was interred in the Singer crypt in Torquay. His tomb is inscribed "Edmond-Melchior-Jean-Marie, Prince de Polignac, Born 1834, Died 1901, Composer of Music"
After Polignac's death, the Princesse de Polignac became an important musical patron in her own right. She established a prize in music in her husband's name, and commissioned Igor Stravinsky's Renard, Manuel de Falla's El retablo de maese Pedro, Erik Satie's Socrate, Francis Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra and Organ Concerto (Poulenc), and Germaine Tailleferre's Piano Concerto. She also subsidized individuals and organizations, such as Nadia Boulanger, Clara Haskil, Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Ethel Smyth, Adela Maddison, the Ballets Russes, the Paris Opera, and the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris. Until 1939, the Polignac salon was the foremost gathering-place for the artistic elite in Paris and Venice, including Jean Cocteau, Claude Monet, Sergei Diaghilev, and Colette.
Dame Ethel Mary Smyth, DBE (23 April 1858 – 8 May 1944) was an English composer and a member of the women's suffrage movement. Smyth was born in London, as the fourth of a family of eight children. Her father, J. H. Smyth, who was a Major-General in the Royal Artillery, was very much opposed to her making a career in music.
Undeterred, Smyth was determined to become a composer, studied with a private tutor, and then attended the Leipzig Conservatory, where she met many of the many composers of the day. Her compositions include songs, works for piano, chamber music, orchestral and concertante works, choral works, and operas.
She lived at Frimhurst, near Frimley Green for many years, but from 1913 onwards, she began gradually to lose her hearing and managed to complete only four more major works before deafness brought her composing career to an end. However, she found a new interest in literature and, between 1919 and 1940, she published ten highly successful, mostly autobiographical, books.
In recognition of her work as a composer and writer, Smyth was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1922. She died in Woking in 1944 at the age of 86, and was cremated there.
She first studied privately with Alexander Ewing when she was seventeen. He introduced her to the music of Wagner and Berlioz. After a major battle with her father about her plans to devote her life to music, Smyth was allowed to advance her musical education at the Leipzig Conservatory, where she studied composition with Carl Reinecke. She left after a year, however, disillusioned with the low standard of teaching, and continued her music studies privately with Heinrich von Herzogenberg. While she was at the Leipzig Conservatory, she met Dvořák, Grieg and Tchaikovsky. Through Herzogenberg she also met Clara Schumann and Brahms.
with her dog Marco
Dame Ethel Smyth was an English composer and a member of the women's suffrage movement. Henry Bennet Brewster, may have been her only male lover. In 1892, she wrote to him: "I wonder why it is so much easier for me to love my own sex passionately than yours. I can't make it out for I am a very healthy-minded person." She fell in love with Winnaretta Singer. The affronted husband of one of Singer’s lovers once stood outside the princess's Venetian palazzo, declaring, "If you are half the man I think you are, you will come out here and fight me.“
Smyth's extensive body of work includes the Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra and the Mass in D. Her opera The Wreckers is considered by some critics to be the "most important English opera composed during the period between Purcell and Britten." Another of her operas, Der Wald, remains the only opera by a woman composer ever produced at New York's Metropolitan Opera.
Recognition in England came somewhat late for Ethel Smyth, notes conductor Leon Botstein at the time he conducted the American Symphony Orchestra's US premiere of The Wreckers in New York on 30 September 2007:
On her seventy-fifth birthday in 1934, under Beecham’s direction, her work was celebrated in a festival, the final event of which was held at the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of the Queen. Heartbreakingly, at this moment of long-overdue recognition, the composer was already completely deaf and could hear neither her own music nor the adulation of the crowds.Overall, critical reaction to her work was mixed and, as noted by Eugene Gates:
Smyth's music was seldom evaluated as simply the work of a composer among composers, but as that of a "woman composer." This worked to keep her on the margins of the profession, and, coupled with the double standard of sexual aesthetics, also placed her in a double bind. On the one hand, when she composed powerful, rhythmically vital music, it was said that her work lacked feminine charm; on the other, when she produced delicate, melodious compositions, she was accused of not measuring up to the artistic standards of her male colleagues.In 1910 Smyth joined the Women's Social and Political Union, a suffrage organization, giving up music for two years to devote herself to the cause. Her "The March of the Women" (1911) became the anthem of the women's suffrage movement. When the WSPU's leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, called on members to break a window in the house of any politician who opposed votes for women, Smyth was one of the 109 members who responded to Pankhurst's call. She served two months in Holloway Prison for the act. When her proponent-friend Thomas Beecham went to visit her there, he found suffragettes marching in the quadrangle and singing, as Smyth leaned out a window conducting the song with a toothbrush.
Smyth had several passionate affairs in her life, most of them with women. Her philosopher-friend and the librettist of some of her operas, Henry Bennet Brewster, may have been her only male lover. She wrote to him in 1892: "I wonder why it is so much easier for me to love my own sex passionately than yours. I can't make it out for I am a very healthy-minded person." Smyth was at one time in love with the married suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. At age 71 she fell in love with writer Virginia Woolf, who, both alarmed and amused, said it was "like being caught by a giant crab", but the two became friends.
Dame Ethel Smyth featured, under the name of Edith Staines, in E. F. Benson's Dodo books (1893–1921), decades before the quaint musical characters of his more famous Miss Mapp series. She "gleefully acknowledged" the portrait, according to Prunella Scales. She was later a model for the fictional Dame Hilda Tablet in the 1950s radio plays of Henry Reed.
She was portrayed by Maureen Pryor in the 1974 BBC television film Shoulder to Shoulder.
Ethel Smyth's dog, called Marco, was a half-breed St. Bernard which had been given to her by a friend in 1887. Marco's unruly temperament was notorious and he had once almost ruined a rehearsal of Brahms's Piano Quintet at Adolph Brodsky's house in Leipzig by bursting into the room and overturning the cellist's desk. Brahms, however, had taken all this in good spirit, confirming Ethel Smyth's high opinion of his character. In her memoirs she also recalled her meetings with Tchaikovsky in Leipzig as follows:
"Of all the composers I have known the most delightful as personality was Tschaikowsky, between whom and myself a relation now sprang up that surely would have ripened into close friendship had circumstances favoured us; so large minded was he, that I think he would have put up unresentingly with all I had to give his work—a very relative admiration. Accustomed to the uncouth, almost brutal manners affected by many German musicians as part of the make up and one of the symptoms of genius, it was a relief to find in this Russian, who even the rough diamonds allowed was a master on his own lines, a polished, cultivated gentleman and man of the world. Even his detestation of Brahms's music failed to check my sympathy—and that I think is strong testimony to his charm! He would argue with me about Brahms by the hour, strum passages on the piano and ask if they were not hideous, declaring I must be under hypnotic influence, since to admire this awkward pedant did not square with what he was kind enough to call the soundness of my instinct on other points. Another thing that puzzled him was my devotion to Marco, of whom he was secretly terrified, but this trait he considered to be a form of English spleen and it puzzled him less than the other madness. For years I have meant to inquire whether dogs play no part in the Russian scheme of life or whether Tschaikowsky's views were peculiar to himself; anyhow it amused me, reading his memoirs, to find Marco and Brahms bracketed together as eccentricities of his young English friend."
Marie Joseph Robert Anatole, comte de Montesquiou-Fézensac (March 7, 1855, Paris – December 11, 1921, Menton), was a French aesthete, Symbolist poet, art collector and dandy. In 1875 he met Prince Edmond de Polignac. Montesquiou was the one who introduced, through his cousin Élisabeth Greffulhe, Polignac to heiress Winnaretta Singer, with whom Polignac had a lavender marriage. Montesquiou, who felt Edmond owed him a debt of gratitude for effecting this marriage of convenience, felt slighted when Edmond was not sufficiently effulgent, and the friendship was irrevocably broken.
He is reputed to have been the inspiration both for des Esseintes in Joris-Karl Huysmans' (1848-1907) À rebours (1884) and, most famously, for Baron de Charlus in Proust's (1871-1922) À la recherche du temps perdu (1913-1927).
Robert de Montesquiou was a scion of the famous French Montesquiou-Fézensac Family. He was a distant nephew of Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the model for Dumas' Musketeer. His paternal grandfather was Count Anatole de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1788-1878), Aide-de-camp to Napoleon and grand officer of the Légion d'honneur; his father was Anatole's third son, Thierry, who married Pauline Duroux, an orphan, in 1841. With his wife's dowry, Thierry bought a Charnizay manor, built a mansion in Paris, and was elected Vice-President of the Jockey Club. He was a successful stockbroker who left a substantial fortune. Robert was the last of Count Thierry's children, brothers Gontran and Aymery, and sister Élise. His cousin, Élisabeth, comtesse Greffulhe (1860-1952), was one of Marcel Proust's (1871-1922) models for the duchesse de Guermantes.
He had social relationships and collaborations with many celebrities of the Fin de siècle period, including Alphonse Daudet (1840–1897), Edmond de Goncourt (1822–1896), Eleonora Duse (1858–1924), Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), Gabriele d'Annunzio (1863-1938), Luisa Casati (1881-1957), Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), and Maurice Barrès (1862-1923).
He had a strong influence on Émile Gallé (1846-1904), a glass artist he collaborated with and commissioned major works from, and from whom he received hundreds of adulatory letters.
His portrait Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac was painted by his close friend, and model for many of his eccentric mannerisms, James Abbott McNeill Whistler in 1891-1892. (Picture: James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac, 1891–92, oil on canvas, The Frick Collection)
The French artist Antonio de La Gandara (1861-1917) produced several portraits of the Comte.
He wrote the verses found in the optional choral parts of Gabriel Fauré's Pavane.
His poetry has been called untranslatable, and was poorly received by critics at the time.
In his biography Philippe Jullian proposes that Moberly and Jourdain's 'Adventure' in 1901 in the grounds of the Petit Trianon is explained by them stumbling into a rehearsal of one of Montesquiou's Tableaux Vivant, with his friends (one possibly transvestite) dressed in period costume. Dr Joan Evans, who owned the copyright to 'An Adventure' accepted this solution and forbad any further editions.
Robert de Montesquiou, 1887, Jacques-Emile Blanche -- French painter 1861–1942
Winnaretta Singer, Princesse Edmond de Polignac (8 January 1865 – 26 November 1943) was a musical patron and heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. Born in America, she lived most of her adult life in France. In 1893, at the age of 29, she stepped companionably into an equally chaste marriage with the 59-year-old Prince Edmond de Polignac (19 April 1834 – 8 August 1901), a gay amateur composer. Although it was a mariage blanc (unconsummated marriage), or indeed a lavender marriage (a union between a gay man and a lesbian), it was based on profound love, mutual respect, understanding, and artistic friendship, expressed especially through their love of music.
Mrs. Paris Singer and her daughter Miss Winnaretta. The younger woman in the picture, i.e. the daughter is the fraternal niece of Winnaretta Singer, Princesse Edmond de Polignac. She is the daughter of Paris Eugene Singer 1867-1932, who was the younger brother of Winnaretta Singer, Princesse Edmond de Polignac. The second wife of Paris Eugene Singer 1867-1932 was Cecilia Henrietta Augusta ("Lillie") Graham, his first and brief marriage to a family maid having been annulled. The younger woman in the picture is their daughter, Etheleen Winnaretta Singer born December 16, 1890 in Paignton in Devon, in 1926 she married Sir Reginald Arthur St John Leeds, 6th Baronet Leeds (1899–1970) and so she became Lady Etheleen Winnaretta Leeds, she died in Torbay in Devon in 1980. (James Antrim)
She had affairs with numerous women, never making attempts to conceal them, and never going for any great length of time without a female lover. She had these affairs during her own marriages and afterwards, and often with other married women. The affronted husband of one of her lovers once stood outside the princess's Venetian palazzo, declaring, "If you are half the man I think you are, you will come out here and fight me."
Polignac had a relationship with painter Romaine Brooks, which had begun in 1905, and which effectively ended her affair with Olga de Meyer, who was married at the time and whose godfather (and purported biological father) was Edward VII. Composer and conductor Ethel Smyth fell deeply in love with her during their affair. In the early 1920s Polignac became involved with pianist Renata Borgatti. From 1923 to 1933 her partner was the British socialite and novelist Violet Trefusis, with whom she had a loving but often turbulent relationship. Alvilde Chaplin, future wife of the author James Lees-Milne, was involved with Singer from 1938 to 1943; the two women were living together in London at the time of Winnaretta's death.
Winnaretta Singer, Princesse Edmond de Polignac, was a musical patron and heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. In 1893 she undertook an equally chaste marriage with Prince Edmond de Polignac, a gay amateur composer. The lavender marriage was based on profound love, mutual respect, understanding, and artistic friendship, expressed through their love of music. Polignac had a relationship with Olga de Meyer, Romaine Brooks, Ethel Smyth, Renata Borgatti, Violet Trefusis and Alvilde Chaplin.
John Singer Sargent (1856–1925). Princesse Louis de Scey-Montbeliard, 1889
Adolf de meyer (1868-1946), Olga de Meyer, 1897
Romaine Brooks, ca. 1894
John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)/NPG 3243, Dame Ethel Smyth, 1901
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Renata Borgatti, 1921
Alvilde Chaplin and James Lees-Milne
Winnaretta Singer was the twentieth of the 24 children of Isaac Singer. Her mother was his Parisian-born second wife, Isabella Eugenie Boyer, who was possibly the model for Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty. Winnaretta was born in Yonkers, New York. After the American Civil War, the Singer family moved to Paris, where they remained until the Franco-Prussian War. The family then settled in England, first in London, and then to Paignton, Devon where they moved to Oldway Mansion a 115-room palace built by her father.
Winnaretta's older brother, Adam Mortimer Singer, became one of England's landed gentry. Her younger sister, Isabelle-Blanche (1869-1896) married Jean, duc Decazes. Their daughter, Daisy Fellowes, was raised by Winnaretta after Isabelle-Blanche's death and became a noted socialite, magazine editor, and fashion trendsetter in her own right. Winnaretta's younger brother, Paris Singer, was one of the architects and financiers of the resort of Palm Beach, Florida; he had a child by Isadora Duncan. Another brother, Washington Singer, became a substantial donor to the University College of the southwest of England, which later became the University of Exeter; one of the university's buildings is named in his honor.
After Isaac Singer's death in 1875, Isabelle and her children moved back to Paris. Although known within private social circles to be lesbian, Winnaretta married at the age of 22 to Prince Louis de Scey-Montbéliard. The marriage was annulled in 1892 by the Catholic church, five years after a wedding night that reportedly included the bride's climbing atop an armoire and threatening to kill the groom if he came near her.
In 1894 the Prince and Princesse de Polignac established a salon in Paris in the music room of their mansion on Avenue Henri-Martin (today, Avenue Georges-Mandel). The Polignac salon came to be known as a haven for avant-garde music. First performances of Chabrier, d'Indy, Debussy, Fauré, and Ravel took place in the Polignac salon. The young Ravel dedicated his piano work, Pavane pour une infante défunte, to the Princesse de Polignac. Many of Marcel Proust's evocations of salon culture were born during his attendance at concerts in the Polignac drawing room.
After her husband's death, Winnaretta Singer-Polignac used her fortune to benefit the arts, sciences, and letters. She decided to honor his memory by commissioning several works of the young composers of her time, amongst others Igor Stravinsky's Renard, Erik Satie's Socrate (by her intercession Satie was kept out of jail when he was composing this work), Darius Milhaud's Les Malheurs d'Orphée, Francis Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos and Organ Concerto, Jean Françaix's Le Diable boîteux and Sérénade pour douze instruments, Kurt Weill's Second Symphony, and Germaine Tailleferre's First Piano Concerto. Manuel de Falla's El retablo de maese Pedro was premiered there, with the harpsichord part performed by Wanda Landowska.
In addition to Proust and Antonio de La Gandara, the Princesse de Polignac's salon was frequented by Isadora Duncan, Jean Cocteau, Claude Monet, Serge Diaghilev, and Colette. She was also patron to many others, including Nadia Boulanger, Clara Haskil, Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Armande de Polignac, Ethel Smyth, Adela Maddison, the Ballets Russes, l'Opéra de Paris, and the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris. In addition to performing as pianist and organist in her own salon, she was an accomplished painter who exhibited in the Académie des Beaux-Arts. One canvas eventually appeared in the showcase of an art gallery, advertised as being a Manet.
Winnaretta Singer-Polignac was also an important leader in the development of public housing in Paris. Her 1911 building of a housing project for the working poor at Rue de la Colonie, 13th arrondissement, was considered to be a model for future projects. In the 1920s and 1930s, Singer commissioned the architect Le Corbusier to rebuild or construct several public shelters for Paris's Salvation Army.
During World War I, working with Marie Curie, Singer-Polignac helped convert private limousines into mobile radiology units to help wounded soldiers at the front.
During the inter-war period, Singer-Polignac worked with Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan and assisted in the construction of a 360 bed hospital destined to provide medical care to middle class workers. The result of this effort is the Foch Hospital, located in Suresnes, a suburb of Paris, France. The hospital also includes a school of nursing and is one of the top ranked hospitals in France, especially for renal transplants. It has remained true to its origins and stayed a private not-for-profit institution that still serves the Paris community. It is managed by the Fondation médicale franco-américaine du Mont-Valérien, commonly called Foundation Foch.
After Singer-Polignac's death, her legacy of enlightened generosity was carried on through the work of the Fondation Singer-Polignac. Created in 1928, the goals of the foundation are the promotion, through gifts and bourses, of science, literature, the arts, culture, and French philanthropy. The Foundation continued to present concerts and recitals in the Polignac mansion's music room. The performances were first organized by Nadia Boulanger, who presented programs that juxtaposed early music and modern compositions. After Boulanger's death in 1979, the composer Jean Françaix took over the organization of the concert series.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
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Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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