I was delighted to discover that Franz Liszt played at the Colonel’s Rue de Varenne salon in a charity event to support a German orchestra who had toured Paris and fallen on hard times due to lack of attendance at their performances.
As you can see below, the event was organised by seven patronnes including Baroness de Pierres (my great, great grandmother) and the Baroness Camille de Varaigne (Mary Jane Thorn, mentioned in another excerpt). Countess Rasomoffsky, Lady Henriette D’Orsay, Baroness Rothschild, Countess Plaisance, Countess Salvandy, and Baroness Stockhausen will be briefly introduced below to build a picture of the times and the connections.
The Liszt soiree was in 1842.
Lady Henrietta D’Orsay: “In December 1827, whilst still in Naples, d’Orsay married Lady Harriet Frances Gardiner, the earl’s 15-year-old daughter by his first marriage to whom he had been betrothed since she was just 11. A year later, the two couples (The Gardiner’s and the D’Orsay’s) moved to Paris where, in 1829, the bride’s father died suddenly at age 46. Though d’Orsay’s marriage had been a convenient front for hiding his affair with Marguerite Blessington (Harriet’s step mother), he and his wife were granted a legal separation in 1838. To be free of him, Lady Harriet paid out £100,000 to some of the count’s creditors, for which he renounced all claims to the Blessington estate.”
Countess Salvandy (nee Oberkampf) – a Spanish manufacturing heiress, and the wife of the political writer/politician/journalist, Count Narcisse-Achille de Salvandy (son of a priest and a nun). Salvandy immortalised the phrase, “we are dancing on a volcano” when speaking of the simmering July Revolution.
Countess Rasomovsky (Rasomoffsky, Rasomofsky, Razomovsky) – wife of Andreas Rasomovsky (1753 – 1836), a registered Cossack, and the Russian ambassador to Vienna, who was also a significant patron of Beethoven’s, and commissioned him to write three string quartets (Opus 59 – 127, 130, 132). I believe the Countess at the time of the Liszt performance was the Count’s second wife and widow (Countess Tyurgeym m. 1816). With his previous wife (Countess Elizabeth Thun, patronne of Motzart), the Count was a huge supporter of the arts, and established a permanent ( SCHUPPANAZIGH ) string quartet at his palace in Vienna. I haven’t been able to unearth much about his second wife, other than the fact that she married a man who was both an accomplished musician and very entrenched in the Arts in Vienna and Paris.
Baroness (Betty) de Rothschild – patronne of Chopin, Heinrich Heine, Balzac and others, and a renown beauty. The portrait of her painted by Ingres caused much criticism and admiration and has been described as “perhaps the most sumptuous yet approachable image of mid-nineteenth-century opulence.”
Baroness von Stockhausen – wife of the Belgian minister, patronne of Chopin who dedicated several of his Etudes and Ballades to her. He also tutored her children in music. Mother-in-law of Henry Brewster.
Countess (Duchess) Plaisance – still working on this, but it is possible that she was the daugher of the Princess of Wagram and described as “airy and light as Taglioni”. She may also have been abducted by her Italian lover. But this is yet to be confirmed!