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About the Author

kahan Sylvia Kahan is Professor of Music at the Graduate Center and College of Staten Island, CUNY, where she is a member of both the Piano and Musicology faculties. As a pianist, she has performed as concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician in all of New York’s major halls and in concerts venues throughout North America and Europe. As a musicologist, Sylvia Kahan specializes in late 19th-century and 20th-century French music and culture. She has written on women’s roles as music patrons, Proust and music, Nadia Boulanger, and 19th-century music criticism.

About the Book

singer
The American-born Winnaretta Singer (1865-1943) was a millionaire at the age of eighteen, due to her inheriting a substantial part of the Singer Sewing Machine fortune. Her 1893 marriage to Prince Edmond de Polignac, an amateur composer, brought her into contact with the most elite strata of French society. After Edmond's death in 1901, she used her fortune to benefit the arts, science, and letters. [...] Many of Proust's memorable evocations of salon culture were born during his attendance at concerts in the Polignac music room. Sylvia Kahan brings to life this eccentric and extravagant lover of the arts, whose influence on the 20th-century world of music and literature remains incalculable.

The book served as the inspiration for a lecture and concert produced by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.


Praise

This biography by Sylvia Kahan is easy to read as an adventure story just as much as it is a sideways glance at over half a century's cultural history.
GRAMOPHONE

This is a book to be referred to again and again. . . an authoritative study that will give any interested reader an overview of a fascinating artistic epoch with a complex and intriguing survivor at its helm. Underneath the forbidding exterior, "Aunt Winnie" was a sensitive and selfless philanthropist, both acutely perceptive of genuine talent in others and wide-ranging in her patronage. These aspects shine clearly through the mine of detailed information in Sylvia Kahan's important new study.
- TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

Sylvia Kahan draws an unflinching portrait both of a lost world . . . Winnaretta Singer-Polignac appears as an avant-garde figure in patronage, a major reference for how to work in a useful and lasting manner to support the creation and advancement of the arts, allowing humanity to progress.
RESMUSICA

Upcoming Events

Lecture

Plus qu’un parfum, une identité

the world of luxury perfumes and scents

Saturday, January 23, 2021 10:00 AM To 12:00 PM

This event is currently sold out.

Do you know what your perfume says about you? Join Anastasia Sokolow, founder of la Maison Sulékó and member of the French Society of Perfumers, from her Parisian showroom, as she reveals the mysterious language of scents.

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Lecture

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun: A Woman Painter in the Age of Revolution

Art talk presented by Maria d’Amario, Art Historian with a special interest in women artists

Thursday, February 18, 2021 6:30 PM To 7:30 PM

Art lovers, join us as we explore the life and career of this highly successful painter who thanks to recent reassessments of her work, is finally finding her place alongside other great 18th-century artists such as Fragonard, Boucher, and Chardin.

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Saturday, January 16, 2021 10:30 AM To 11:30 AM

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We are continuing our beloved tour en français! After having toured Back Bay, the Boston Public Gardens, and Downtown Crossing, we will discover French inspiration in the North End!

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