Chamber Music from Bach to Stravinsky




Wagner Wesendonck Lied
Hahn songs
Fauré Cinq Melodies de Venise
Stravinsky Pieces for String Quartet
Chausson Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet

Kyle Stegall, tenor
Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Anna Presler, violin

Liana Bérubé, violin
Phyllis Kamrin, viola

Tanya Tomkins, cello
Eric Zivian, fortepiano

Programs and Artists subject to change

Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac (1865-1943), is one of the fascinating salonnières who will be featured this summer at the fifth season of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival, Salonnières: Women of Power and Influence: chamber music from Bach to Stravinsky.

The daughter of Parisian-born Isabella Eugenie Boyer and Isaac Singer, the American founder of the Singer sewing machine company, Winnaretta was the 20th of 24 children. After her father’s death, 19-year-old Winnaretta hired a lawyer to fight for her inheritance, invested in real estate, and eventually married Prince Edmond de Polignac, a French nobleman and aspiring composer who introduced her to Parisian elite society.

Winnaretta used her fortune to benefit the arts, sciences, and letters. She was an accomplished pianist and painter who exhibited pieces in the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Her salon, in the music room of her Parisian mansion, became a gathering place for luminaries of French culture such as Diaghilev, Colette, Cocteau and Cole Porter. At the salon, she held premieres of works by Fauré, Debussy, and Stravinsky, whose modernist classic, Three Pieces for String Quartet, will be performed at this summer’s festival.

Knowing it would help his career, a young Maurice Ravel dedicated his 1899Pavane for a Dead Princess” to Winnaretta before ever meeting her or going to her salon. (Hear the piece played by Ravel himself.) And author Marcel Proust based scenes from “Remembrance of Things Past” on his visits to Winnaretta’s salon. Proust had an affair with Reynaldo Hahn, a songwriter and composer whose works will be featured in this year’s festival. (Listen to Hahn singing and playing his own songs.)

Winnaretta’s marriage was unconsummated. However, she was romantically involved with many women, including Violet Trefusis, who herself was famous for her affair with English poet and novelist Vita Sackwell-West of the Bloomsbury group.

There is so much more to learn about Winnaretta Singer! Order Sylvia Kahan’s Music’s Modern Muse: A Life of Winnaretta Singer from our favorite Sonoma bookstore, Readers’ Books.

Portrait by John Singer Sargent (no relation)

Claude Monet’s Tulip Fields with the Rijnsburg Windmill, part of Winnaretta’s collection, is now at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris