Posted in Patron of the arts

After the death of her husband in 1901, the Princess was entirely focused on music. Paris was still the artistic center of the world. The American artist Gerald Murphy who lived in Paris at the time remembered the excitement and the tension floating in the air, the impressive number of exhibitions, concerts, ballets or new plays happening in the city. Those were the places where one could meet the artistic and intellectual elite such as Jean Wiéner, André Gide, Diaghilev, Picasso, Misia Sert, Jean Cocteau, Anna de Noailles…

In the meantime, the Polignacs’ salon reflected this flourishing artistic activity. Artists and aristocrats used to meet there a dozen times a year to eat a sumptuous dinner and attend an exceptional musical event. The Princess was called “Aunt Winnie” by everyone. She was very careful to maintain an excellence level in her musical programming. In the audience, the love for music prevailed. Aristocrats, wealthy industrialists, and French government officials were mixed with writers such as Proust, Cocteau and Paul Valéry

The princess commissioned several works from young composers she loved for their modernity. After Satie’s Socrate, Stravinsky’s Renard and her niece Armande de Polignac’s La Recherche de la vérité, Winnaretta Singer asked a young Spanish composer to imagine an original work: El Retablo de Maese Pedro. It was created in her mansion in 1923. Her salon was also a very helpful means for composers to present their works for the first time. For example, the premiere of Stravinsky’s Noces was held at Winnaretta’s on June 10th 1923, three days before its official premiere at Théâtre de la Gaîté-Lyrique in Paris. Georges Auric and Marcelle Meyer were two of the pianists who played that night. It was a success. 

During the summer of 1923, she met for the first time the young Arthur Rubinstein in Venice. From then, he became one of the regulars of her parisian as well as venetian salon.

In 1924, Jean Wiéner played his Concerto franco-américain that the princess had commissioned. Winnaretta Singer also asked Darius Milhaud to compose a chamber opera. He decided to call it Les Malheurs d’Orphée as he got his inspiration from the legend of Orpheus. The princess, who was very passionate about classical literature, was delighted by his choice. 

A huge number of musicians played in the Polignac’s salon: Wanda Landowska, Maurice Duruflé, Marcel Dupré, Arthur Rubinstein, Horowitz, Prokofiev, Clara Haskil, Dinu Lipatti, Alfred Cortot, Jacques Février, Igor Stravinsky, Nadia Boulanger, Markevitch, Marie-Blanche de Polignac, Jane Bathori, Irène Kédroff, Hugues Cuénod, Doda Conrad…