Writing a Musical Life: Pauline Viardot


ACLS Fellowship Program




Pauline Viardot was a unique figure in the history of nineteenth-century music. An opera singer, composer, and teacher, she was considered a genius by her contemporaries. The past fifteen years have witnessed a sweeping revival of interest in her life and career that has resulted in numerous performances and recordings of her compositions. And yet there has been little scholarship devoted to her creative and compositional achievements, and no large-scale work that compares in intellectual rigor to studies that focus on her male contemporaries. Drawing on archival materials, journalistic reviews, epistolary sources, and musical works, this project offers a critical reassessment of Viardot’s impact as a performer, composer, pedagogue, and cultural icon on nineteenth-century culture.