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Pauline Garcia-Viardot

Pauline Garcia-Viardot (July 18, 1821 - May 18, 1910) was a 19th century French Mezzo-soprano and composer.

Pauline Garcia was born in Paris to a Spanish family of singers. As a young woman, she was professionally trained as a pianist. Her father, Manuel Garcia[?], also gave her singing lessons but after his death in 1832 her mother took over. Her sister, Maria Malibran[?], was the singing star of the family until her untimely death in 1836.

In 1837 16-year-old Pauline Garcia gave her first concert performance in Brussels and in 1839, made her opera debut as Desdemona in Rossini’s Otello in London.

In 1840, she married Louis Viardot[?], an author and the director of the Théatre Italien in Paris, who would eventually manage her career.

Renowned for her wide range and her dramatic roles on stage, Garcia's performances inspired composers such as Frederic Chopin, Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saëns, and others.

While she never considered herself a composer, she in fact composed a number of songs and also assisted with the writing of music for the roles that were created specifically for her. Later in life, after retiring from the stage, she wrote an opera titled Le dernier Sorcier.

Extremely intelligent, she spoke fluent French, Italian , Spanish, English, German and Russian, and composed songs in a variety of national techniques. Her career took her to the best music halls across Europe, and from 1843 to 1846 she was permanently attached to the Opera in St. Petersburg, Russia. Such was her popularity that writer George Sand made her into the heroine of her 1843 novel "Consuelo."

In 1863 Pauline Viardot-Garcia retired from the stage. She and her family left France due to her husband’s public opposition to Emperor Napoleon III and settled in Baden-Baden, Germany. After the fall of Napoleon III, they returned to France where she taught at the Paris Conservatory and, until the time of her husband’s passing in 1883, also conducted a music salon in the Boulevard Saint-Germain.

Pauline Viardot-Garcia's body is interred in the Cimetière de Montmartre, Paris, France.

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