The Angst and Agony of Young Love Ferruccio Busoni and Gerda Sjöstrand I

At age 22, Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) was appointed piano teacher at the conservatory of Helsingfors, then part of the Russian Empire, today known as the Finnish capital Helsinki. Stable employment and income aside, Busoni could not speak a word of [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | April 9th, 2016
Irish Mist John Field and Adelaide Victoria Percheron

She was described as “a tiny little person, perfectly proportioned and extremely graceful, with lively expression and half-closed eyes, which suggested the wit and malice of a ‘petit diable bleu… She also possessed a coquettish magnetism, which attracted men towards [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | April 5th, 2016
Wedding behind Bars Giovanni Paisiello and Cecilia Pallini

A shotgun wedding is commonly arranged to avoid embarrassment due to an unplanned pregnancy. As the name suggests, it is based on a supposed scenario that the father of the pregnant daughter must resort to some kind of forceful coercion [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | March 3rd, 2016
A Girl named Gucki! Ernst Krenek and Anna Mahler

At times, it can be rather traumatic to be the son or daughter of a celebrity couple. Take for example Anna Justine Mahler, second child of Gustav Mahler and his wife Alma Schindler. Anna was born in 1904, and her [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | February 12th, 2016
Bigamist Prokofiev? Sergei Prokofiev and Mira Mendelssohn

Dictatorial societies are notorious for fostering environments of suspicion and fear. It is always chilling to read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s three-volume narrative The Gulag Archipelago. Solzhenitsyn relied on eyewitness testimony and primary research as well as his own experiences as a [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | January 20th, 2016
Lina and the Wolf Sergei Prokofiev and Lina Codina

Sergei Prokofiev was one of the twentieth century’s most brilliant composers, and he definitely knew it. In fact, he was so confident in his musical abilities that he never attempted to conceal the more disagreeable aspects of his character or [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | January 12th, 2016
Old Flames burn the hottest! Sergei Prokofiev and Eleonora Damskaya

Sergei Prokofiev would make a compelling case study for a textbook investigating the psychology of the exceptional child. Supremely talented in musical matters, Sergei had composed a number of overtures, various piano pieces and his first opera The Giant by [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | December 26th, 2015
Jean Sibelius: The Dances of Courtship

When Janne Sibelius and Aino Järnefelt gazed at each other across a family dinner, love was definitely in the air. “My eyes never left you,” Sibelius wrote later, and her brother Arvid loudly proclaimed, “Don’t look at my sister like [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | December 10th, 2015