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Repeckaite at Fondation Singer-Polignac

Posted on April 7, 2018

Since 2017, Justina is an artist in residence at Fondation Singer-Polignac.

In 1894 the Prince and Princesse de Polignac established a salon in Paris in the music room of their mansion on Avenue Henri-Martin (today, Avenue Georges-Mandel). The Polignac salon came to be known as a haven for avant-garde music. First performances of Chabrier, d’Indy, Debussy, Fauré, and Ravel took place in the Polignac salon. The young Ravel dedicated his piano work, Pavane pour une infante défunte, to the Princesse de Polignac. Many of Marcel Proust’s evocations of salon culture were born during his attendance at concerts in the Polignac drawing room.

Winnaretta Singer

Self-portrait by Winnaretta Singer, c.1885

After her husband’s death, Winnaretta Singer-Polignac used her fortune to benefit the arts, sciences, and letters. She decided to honor his memory by commissioning several works of the young composers of her time, amongst others Igor Stravinsky’s Renard, Erik Satie’s Socrate (by her intercession Satie was kept out of jail when he was composing this work), Darius Milhaud’s Les Malheurs d’Orphée, Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Organ Concerto, Jean Françaix’s Le Diable boîteux and Sérénade pour douze instruments, Kurt Weill’s Second Symphony, and Germaine Tailleferre’s First Piano Concerto. Manuel de Falla’s El retablo de maese Pedro was premiered there, with the harpsichord part performed by Wanda Landowska.

In addition to Proust and Antonio de La Gándara, the Princesse de Polignac’s salon was frequented by Isadora Duncan, Jean Cocteau, Claude Monet, Sergei Diaghilev, and Colette. She was also patron to many others, including Nadia Boulanger, Clara Haskil, Dinu Lipatti, Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Armande de Polignac, Ethel Smyth, Le Corbusier, Adela Maddison, the Ballets Russes, l’Opéra de Paris, and the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris. In addition to performing as pianist and organist in her own salon, she was an accomplished painter who exhibited in the Académie des Beaux-Arts. One canvas eventually appeared in the showcase of an art gallery, advertised as being a Manet.

After Singer-Polignac’s death, her legacy of enlightened generosity was carried on through the work of the Fondation Singer-Polignac. Created in 1928, the goals of the foundation are the promotion, through gifts and bourses, of science, literature, the arts, culture, and French philanthropy. The Foundation continued to present concerts and recitals in the Polignac mansion’s music room. The performances were first organized by Nadia Boulanger, who presented programs that juxtaposed early music and modern compositions. After Boulanger’s death in 1979, the composer Jean Françaix took over the organization of the concert series.