Monday, December 9, 2013

Liszt and Princess Carolyne

Liszt eventually left Marie for Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein. When the handsome and talented musician informed Marie about his new relationship, she made the stunning rebuke that she was sure that Marie would not be happy being 'one of his mistresses'.  Unfortunately, this new love-affair also ended unhappily.

Princess Carolyne was brought up on a huge estate near Kiev which had 30,000 servants, but it was also bleak and isolated.  Her parents were well-educated and cultured.  Rossini taught her charming mother singing.  Her parents separated when Carolyne was young, and she became close to her father.  In fact, she liked to stay up late at night and smoke cigars with him!  This was considered unfeminine in those days.

The young girl's father was also fond of her, but not fond enough.  He insisted that she marry the wealthy Prince Nikolaus, although she refused the prince's proposals three times.  He may even have punished her for refusing.  Unsurprisingly, the marriage turned out to be unhappy, except for their lovely daughter, Marie.  Carolyne and her husband soon separated.

Her father's death in 1844 made Carolyne extremely wealthy.  This 'child of the steppes' inherited 14 estates. She had to manage them alone, and she endured long journeys in blizzards and severe weather so that she could sell her crops and make contracts.  It was a tough and lonely existence for the young woman.

Cultured and well-educated, Carolyne loved music, and she met Liszt at a charity concert.  She impressed him with her kind heart by giving the charity one hundred rubles.  She fell in love with the mesmerizing musician quickly, and wrote to him that he was her 'heart and soul' soon afterwards.  Their letters were extremely romantic.

She invited Liszt to her main estate at Worinince and the relationship developed rapidly.  After a little more than a year, she decided to run away to be with her lover even though she was still legally married.  She made a dangerous escape during the revolution of 1848 -armed soldiers were at all the borders.  However, she and Liszt settled in the Altenberg amongst many famous artists and musicians.  They lived separately for the sake of appearances, but everyone knew that the Princess was Liszt's mistress.

Now that he was happily settled, Liszt , who became the Kappelmeister at the court of Weimar, wrote several compositions, including twelve symphonic poems, piano sonatas and concertos.  Carolyne spoiled him and made it easy for him to compose.

They were happy for twelve years, but Carolyne had a lot of trouble obtaining an annulment from the Catholic church.  She was almost successful, but it became too difficult for the couple, even though her husband who was a Protestant obtained a divorce and even married again. The wedding in Rome was even arranged, and the church looked resplendent with flowers and candles. However, at the last minute the Pope decided that the case needed to be re-examined, probably because of the intervention of the Tsar and Carolyne's rather nasty relations.  She then lost heart, because she knew that annulment cases are never closed, and she was concerned about her daughter's legitimacy. Repentant and miserable, the Princess eventually settled in Rome where she had wanted to marry Liszt.  She decided to devote the rest of her life to the Church, and she also wrote books.

Princess Carolyne and Liszt remained good friends.  The musician eventually took holy orders himself.

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