When Russian poet Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev met Pauline Viardot on November 1, 1843, he fell head over heels in love with her. Viardot, then 22 years old, was a celebrated mezzo-soprano throughout Europe and already nearly as famous as her older sister, the legendary primadonna Maria Malibran, who had died seven years earlier after a severe horse accident. Though Pauline was already married, her husband, Parisian impresario and arts critic Louis Viardot, probably felt that his wife couldn’t find sexual fulfillment with him. Soon after, Turgenev became a household guest of the Viardots, would later follow them to London and Baden-Baden, and finally moved in with the couple, sharing a house with them in the Rue de Douai 48 à Paris. The ménage à trois lasted nearly 40 years. There even were rumours that Turgenev fathered two of Pauline’s children, though nobody will ever know for sure: After the death of Turgenev in 1883, Pauline meticulously took care of covering all tracks that would have indicated an extramarital affair. When it came to composing, she also was a dedicated woman of discretion: All pieces she created in her later years were exclusively written for private concerts, among them „Romance“ (1890), a tender, intimate melody for violin and piano – the enchanting echo of an affair to remember.
Karin Hendel/ Ewa Warykiewicz – Romance