Mikhail Glinka and Maria Petrovna “Marriage is like Counterpoint—Opposition and Contrary Motion”

Upon departing from Italy, Mikhail Glinka stopped in Berlin and took some counterpoint lessons from Siegfried Dehn. The study of counterpoint fueled his desire to write a national opera, as he wrote to a friend, “I have a project in [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 12th, 2018
The Roman Holiday Charles Gounod and Fanny Hensel

The most prestigious artistic scholarship in France, the “Prix de Rome,” was created in 1663. It originally was awarded in painting, sculpting and architecture, with music and engraving added in 1803 and 1804, respectively. The fortunate recipients, selected via a [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 8th, 2018
Debussy’s Wives: Rosalie Texier and Emma Bardac

As far as women were concerned, Claude Debussy was a bastard! “There was a woman at each crossroad of Debussy’s life,” Marcel Dietschy writes. “Certainly women of all ages seemed fascinated by him, and they attached themselves to him like [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | March 22nd, 2018
Claude Debussy: “I need something to love”

The Scottish operatic soprano Mary Garden, who sung the part of “Mélisande” in the original production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande in 1902, was to later write about the composer, “I honestly don’t know if Debussy ever loved anybody really. [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | March 15th, 2018
Erich Korngold and Luzi Sonnenthal A Triumph of Love

Luise von Sonnenthal (1900-1962) was born into a dynasty of ennobled actors. Her grandfather Adolf Ritter von Sonnenthal was not only Vienna’s most popular classical actor and matinee idol at the Burgtheater, he was also one of the first Jewish [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | November 16th, 2017
Lure of the Siren Carl Maria von Weber and Gretchen Lang

The soprano Margarethe Bernbrunn, née Lang, who frequently performed under the stage name “Adalbert Prix,” was described in the following terms. “Gretchen possessed a little plump seductive form, was about twenty years of age, and, in addition to her undoubted [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | October 14th, 2017
Love on a cosmic scale Olivier Messiaen, Claire Delbos and Yvonne Loriod

Claire Delbos was the daughter of a Sorbonne professor, a member of the prominent new music society “La Spirale,” and an accomplished violinist and composer. Predictably, she studied at the Paris Conservatory and quickly crossed paths with another highly talented [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 21st, 2017
Tango Passion II Astor Piazzolla and Amelita Baltar

With his marriage to Dedé Wolff in serious trouble, Astor Piazzolla was finding solace in the arms of other women. “I am now seeing a youngish lass, divine,” he told a friend. The affair with the “youngish lass” was short-lived [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | July 20th, 2017