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Noble sociability in French: romances in Princess Natalia Kurakina’s album


Princess Kurakina: composer and European salonnière

Princess Natalia Ivanovna Kurakina (1766-1831), née Golovina, was an amateur composer and musician. Her parents were Ivan Sergeevich Golovin, a Collegiate Councillor (Коллежский советник; an official of the sixth rank in the civilian section of the Table of Ranks introduced by Peter I (the Great) in 1722), and Ekaterina Alekseevna Golovina, née Golitsyna (1735-1802). Well-educated and acquainted with French and Italian literature, Kurakina was a precocious musical talent, attracting favourable attention together with her sister Daria and their friends.[1] She played the harp and the guitar and was an accomplished singer. In 1783, at the age of sixteen, she married Prince Aleksei Borisovich Kurakin (1759-1829), who in 1796 would become Procurator General (Генерал-прокурор, the head of the Senate, one of the highest offices in the Russian administration). The couple lived at the court of Catherine’s son, the future Tsar Paul I, where Kurakina took part in courtly musical life.[2] Her works (for example, three romances for the piano[3]) were published and were often performed in the salon of the future Empress Elizabeth, wife of Alexander I.[4] Kurakina was made a Dame Lesser Cross of the Order of St Catherine in 1797 and became lady-in-waiting in 1826.[5] The Kurakins had a son, Boris (1783-1850), and two daughters, Elena (1787-1869) and Aleksandra (1788-1819).

Aleksei KurakinWith her husband’s removal from his post as Procurator General after he had fallen out of favour with Paul,[6] Kurakina found herself spending more time at their family estate Kurakino in the Province of Oriol. Isolated from the social world in which she thrived, Kurakina grew bored and went on travels abroad. In 1815 she hosted a salon in Paris and she undertook further travel in 1822-24 and 1829-30. She wrote a travel diary in French, which was eventually published in 1903[7] and from which it is clear that on her travels she met important political and cultural figures. She was a great social success in early nineteenth-century Paris and consequently enjoyed her time there, as she writes in a letter to her brother-in-law, the diplomat Aleksandr Kurakin (1752-1818): ‘I like it in Paris because I am popular here’ (« Je me plais à Paris, parce que j’y plais »). She boasts of being the only Russian who participates in Parisian social life. In her diary, she claimed that social life in France was exactly like social life in Russia and that she had never seen two nations that were so similar, especially on the outside (« je n’ai jamais vu deux nations se convenir et se ressembler autant, par extérieur surtout »). Parisian life and sociability suited Kurakina but spending lonely evenings at home, she said, did not.[8]

Kurakina was indeed a popular figure. Her close friend and correspondent the French painter Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842) extols Kurakina’s virtues in her memoirs (the early part of which is written in epistolary form, addressed to Kurakina), stating that it was impossible not to love her.[9] Admiring verses were addressed to her. The poet Ivan Dmitriev (1769-1837), who although virtually forgotten now was one of the foremost sentimental poets of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century,[10] wrote the following lines ‘for the album of Princess N. I. Kurakina’:

Что пред соперницей Ераты наше пенье?
Она лишь голосом находит путь к сердцам!
Я лиру положу Куракиной к ногам
И буду сам внимать в безмолвном восхищенье.[11]

[‘What is our singing before Erato’s rival?
She finds a way to our hearts with her voice alone!
I shall lay my lyre at Kurakina’s feet
And listen in silent rapture.]

As a noblewoman Kurakina clearly belonged to the amateur musical scene, and her musical accomplishments were part of the sanctioned skills and pastimes of a young noblewoman of her time. It is perhaps telling that a recent encyclopaedia entry on her states that she devoted her life to her husband and children and makes no mention of her musical activities or participation in salon life.[12] Moreover, in the social world today’s precious pearl may be tomorrow’s empty shell, as Piotr Viazemsky (1792-1878) put it in a letter to his wife Vera in 1828. Describing a visit to a concert, Viazemsky says that in the darkness he could not see many members of the audience beyond those in the first row whom he refers to as ‘God knows what sort of mugs’ («Бог весть, что за рожи»). He wistfully wonders how many pearls there must have been in the depths, while on the shore he was stuck with only the shells – ‘which include the old woman Kurakina’ («старуха Куракина»).[13] Nearing the end of her life, Kurakina may have found her social standing diminishing as polite society no longer needed her so much. She died of cholera in the epidemic of 1831.

Noble music-making at the turn-of-the-century Russian salon

Salon culture emerged from court life in seventeenth-century Paris, taking the form of a more intimate version of court life.[14] Salons typically bore the following characteristics: there was a mixture of male and female visitors; the salonnière was a key focal point who brought participants together; regular meetings were held in a private house, which had become a semi-public arena where social boundaries were relatively porous, with members from various backgrounds; conversation was the main pastime (other activities, such as recitals, lectures and theatrical and musical performances, were optional and depended on the interests of the salonnière); most importantly, the exclusive purpose of the gathering was sociability.[15] Salon culture began to develop in Russia in the second half of the century in St Petersburg, where extended circles of friends met for the sake of meeting and being sociable. The salonnières hosting these regular gatherings could display their education and talents, their influence on social life having been made possible in the first place by the efforts of Peter I in the early eighteenth century to involve women in the social world and by such reforms of his as the organisation of gatherings (‘assemblies’), which he required certain of his subjects to attend.[16] Just as the characteristics of the French salon were adopted by Russian salons, so French became the default language of the salon. No doubt this linguistic development was reinforced by the increased presence in Russia of French noblemen and noblewomen themselves, as they fled from France after the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. Some French émigrés married Russian women, for example Count Jean-François-Charles de Laval de La Loubrerie (1761-1848), whose wife Aleksandra Kozitskaia (1772-1850) hosted an influential literary salon in the 1820s-40s.[17] French émigrés found the salon offered an opportunity to continue the noble way of life to which they had been accustomed; Russian salonnières, for their part, tried to resurrect the French spirit of politesse which the revolution had supposedly destroyed.[18]

The salon also became an important venue for music-making in Russia from the turn of the century. It provided a particularly appropriate, exclusive and decorous setting for this sociable activity.[19] Indeed, in some salons, amateur music-making – both performance and composition – played a central role. Poets would write verses to be put to music, and improvisation and playful creation enhanced the sociable atmosphere.[20] The lively existence Kurakina led, for example when staying with Princess Ekaterina Dolgorukova (1769-1849) at her family’s estate at Aleksandrovka in the summertime, has been documented by Vigée-Lebrun, who describes a musical scene with everyone vying for roles in the tableaux vivants she would direct, musical outings on boats and other amusements, a world where ‘nobody thought about anything other than to amuse oneself’.[21] The memoirs of a French actress who visited Russia, Louise Fusil (also known as Liard-Fleury, 1771-1848), corroborate the image of constant amusements with pleasant company in picturesque settings: Fusil writes of her acquaintance with ‘this charming Princess Kurakina [...] an excellent musician who composes very nice romances’ and delights in the social gaiety of her world.[22]

Much of the music which was played in noble households in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Russia and which nourished Russian salon culture was composed by foreigners. Music composed by Russians at this time came to be criticised for its slavish dependence on western models.[23] However, when the Russian musical world of the early nineteenth century is put into a broad historical context, it becomes clear that this was a crucial period in Russian musical history. French, Italian, German and Russian works continued to coexist throughout the 1830s and 40s – proof of a prolonged presence of foreign works that did not hamper the development of Russian music.[24] Moreover, the western models of musical genres and forms that had been circulating in Russia since the reign of Peter or before aided the development of Russian composers regarded as professionals, such as Dmitrii Bortniansky (1751-1825) and Osip Kozlovsky (1757-1831), who knew French culture very well.[25] Salon culture, in turn, prepared the ground for the famous nineteenth-century composers, such as Mikhail Glinka (1804-57), Aleksandr Borodin (1833-87) and Milii Balakirev (1837-1910), who, far from imitating foreign models, established a distinctive native musical tradition represented from the late 1850s by the so-called ‘Mighty Five’ (могучая кучка), which included Modest Musorgsky (1839-881) and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) as well as Balakirev and Borodin. These composers were brought up in musical family environments and were themselves keen participants in performances of domestic chamber music, a part of the amateur scene.[26]

The foreign vocal genre which predominated in Russian musical salons at the turn of the century, when Kurakina flourished in that social world, was the romance. In fact, so popular was the genre that the Russian critic and music historian Nikolai Findeizen (1868-1928) described the period in the history of Russian music that preceded the ascendancy of Glinka as the epoch of the dilettantish romance.[27] Most of Kurakina’s compositions are romances for voice with accompaniment. The genre of the romance itself, like so much else in salon culture, was borrowed from France, where this quasi-operatic style of music was considered more entertaining than purely instrumental music. (In fact, the Russian word romans (романс) meant a song with French words.) The romance was generally short, suitable for an intimate family setting, limited in melodic scope and simple in style. In its French form, the romance often featured medieval troubadour themes celebrating the heroic past, as well as themes of love. In Russia, pastoral themes were popular too, reflecting a sentimental cult of nature. While performers in turn-of-the-century Russian salons often simply sang French pieces, Russian composers, under the influence of such French composers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) and André Ernest Modeste Grétry (1741-1813), also set French texts to music themselves or wrote both texts and music. The first French romance written by a Russian composer was Bortniansky’s « Dans le verger de Cythère » (‘In the garden of Cythera’), published by Breitkopf in 1784. The success of the French romance genre in Russia is indicated by the publication of romances by various Frenchmen who resided in St Petersburg. Such figures include, for example, Jean-Baptiste Cardon (1760-1803), who from 1797 published a Journal d’ariettes italiennes et autres avec Accompagnement de la Harpe (he used a melody written by Kurakina in one of his works and was also very probably her harp teacher);[28] Jean-Baptiste Hainglaise (born in 1771), who published the famous weekly Journal d’airs italiens, français, et russes avec accompagnement de Guitare par J.-B. Hainglaise, also in the late 1790s;[29] and Honoré-Joseph Dalmas (died 1829), who published a weekly musical magazine, Le Troubadour du Nord, journal de chant avec accompagnement de pianoforte, dédié à Sa Majesté Impériale Elisabeth Alexiewna, Impératrice de toutes les Russies, from 1804.[30] (The fact that these journals were all published in St Petersburg attests to the importance of the city as a centre of salon culture.) Thus Russians and foreigners, composers of fleeting popularity and composers whose fame would prove more long-lived – all contributed to the vocal music predominant in Russian salons during the age of Alexander I, and Russian composers, professionals and dilettanti alike, remained interested in the French romance at least up until the 1820s.[31]

An early nineteenth-century adaptation of a French romance

The examples of texts of French romances that we publish in this section of our corpus are taken from a manuscript book of music belonging to Kurakina, Recueil d'aires à la P-sse Natalie Kourakin (A Collection of Songs for Princess Natalie Kurakina), which is preserved in the Russian State Library in Moscow. The romances in this book, of which there are about one hundred, were no doubt known to Kurakina and include some which she evidently wrote herself. (One of the songs in it, « Que j’aime à voir les hirondelles » (‘How I love to see the swallows’), for example, is mentioned in a list of publications by Kurakina which is included in a guide to music written by women produced by Barbara Garvey Jackson.[32]) However, in accordance with the custom of the time, all these romances were probably copied into the album by someone else and given to Kurakina as a present. Possibly this person was the individual named on the archival record as « M. de Roche », who also arranged some of the compositions in the album, although it is unclear who he was. Both of the excerpts that we have selected were written entirely in French, which was the main language of album culture at this time, although other languages are present in Kurakina’s album: one song is in Russian, and there are several romances in Italian. Neither of the two excerpts we publish is an original text: the first is a reworking of a song; the second, to which we turn in the following section of this introduction, is a copy of the words of a song.

Kurakina manuscriptThe first text was taken from a volume of étrennes compiled by M.-F.-J. Cholet de Jetphort and published in 1792 and then rewritten, either by Kurakina herself or by someone who dedicated the verses to her in an album.[33] The emergence of the practice of giving étrennes, or new-year gifts, was closely bound up with courtly life and evolved in the late Middle Ages.[34] Already at that time, poems and songs were considered acceptable gifts. Volumes of étrennes continued to be popular long into the nineteenth century, as evidenced by the following statement on étrennes in 1880: ‘If one wanted to go through all the books which the end of December regularly brings, one would not have the room or the time, as for several years they have regularly been forming a veritable library.’[35] The authors of the verses in the volume edited by Cholet de Jetphort are often indicated only by their initials, although some do give their full names. The original author of the excerpt that we publish is known only as M. P. Equally, some verses are dedicated to specific women, whereas the text we publish is not dedicated to anyone. Clearly the verses in Cholet de Jetphort’s volume are meant to be sung, for below the titles the reader finds instructions about which particular air they should be sung to. In this instance the original romance is intended to be sung to the melody of ‘The purest light’.[36] The text in Cholet de Jetphort’s collection is slightly different from the text found in Kurakina’s album.[37] Whereas the poem in the former describes the narrator’s success in winning the woman’s heart by loving her constantly and with care and extreme tenderness, the verses in the latter speak of the hopelessness of unrequited love. The narrator in Kurakina’s album laments that the woman addressed has closed her heart to him, dashing all hope (« elle m'a fermé son coeur je n'ai plus d'espoir ») and that she will not hear him, take his hand or look at him (« Elle ne veut pas m'entendre », « Sa main repousse la mienne ; Ses yeux évitent les miens »). Indeed, the author of the version in Kurakina’s album has exchanged the original refrain about the woman who makes his happiness (« celle qui fait mon bonheur ») to a refrain about misery (« celle qui fait mon malheur »). The song in its variation in Kurakina’s work, then, may be a re-interpretation of the original song written into her album at a salon gathering, for often albums contained games, riddles or improvisations and there was a strong element of playfulness about them.

At the same time, the adoption of the modest position of rejected lover may have been an appropriate stance within the norms of gallant etiquette. While love was a major theme of verses inscribed in an album, it was considered ungallant to be too effusive or self-assured. The owner of the album is the focus of adoration of those writing in it, but the contributions made by others should always conform to the rules of gallant behaviour.[38] The minor poet Vasilii Pushkin to whom we referred above, for example, states that his purpose in writing in Kurakina’s album is not a wish to impress, merely to make himself visible to Nathalie (« c’est pour être sous les yeux de Nathalie »).[39] As Elena Grechanaia shows through a number of examples of verses written in albums that she has drawn from archival sources, writers may also underline their reticence by making it clear that what they write to a woman in an album is written at the woman’s request. Thus Vasilii Pushkin states that he has penned verses ‘for Princess K who has asked me to write words to be put to music’ (« A la p[rince]sse K*** qui avoit demandé que je lui fasse des paroles pour les mettre en musique ») or, again, he writes a dedication to Princess K. who has asked me to write in a blank book which she intends to be a collection of poetry’ (« A la P[rince]sse K. qui a demandé que j’écrivisse dans un livre blanc qu’elle destinait à un recueil de vers »).[40] We find ourselves, then, in a culture of reciprocal admiration and exchange of compliments: the owner of the album flatters the writer by asking him or her to write in the album, while the writer expresses adoration and love in entries which he would never presume to make without being asked first. The notions of sociability and pleasurable social life lived for its own sake could be comfortably accommodated in the culture of the salon, and the taste for pastoral, sentimental themes ensured that verses such as those in French romances were popular. However, the sentiments of happy carefree love, expressed in Anacreontic songs like those in Cholet de Jetphort’s volume of étrennes lyriques anacréontiques, which depicted a pleasurable dolce vita where love is easily attained and questions of money and power are irrelevant,[41] were perhaps deemed to be in need to modification.

The romance we have selected, in the modified form in which we find it in Kurakina’s album, is written in faultless French. The first verse is written into the musical notation and the subsequent verses are written line by line. It is not known whether someone – perhaps M. de Roche who is mentioned as an author of the archival text – wrote the reworked verses in her album. Kurakina rewrote the lyrics herself, but we may assume that the command of French that is displayed in the writer’s amendment of the original text was the norm among members of the elite who participated in the Russian salons of that time.

A song based on a love poem by Florian

The second text that we publish is an excerpt from the novella Claudine by the popular eighteenth-century French writer Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755-94).[42] Florian’s love poems and novels were extremely popular in Russia, and many of his works were translated into Russian.[43] Composers set his works to music. Jean-Paul-Egide Martini (real name Johann Paul Aegidius Schwarzendorf; 1741-1816), for example, wrote music for 'The pleasure of love lasts but a moment' (« Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment »)[44] and the verses that we have selected were also set to music as « romance de Claudine » in 1820 by the German composer Fanny Mendelssohn (later Hensel, 1805-47).[45] Kurakina herself wrote romances based on texts by Florian, which were published in an album printed in St Petersburg at the end of the eighteenth century. Three of the romances have been recorded on a CD of music by Russian princesses, parts of which which can also be accessed online.[46]

The excerpt that we have selected is a song sung by the eponymous protagonist of Florian’s novella, the shepherdess Claudine. The novella is written in the sentimental pastoral style popular at this time. Claudine is seduced by the decadent Englishman Belton who passes through her village. She disguises herself as a Savoyard boy and travels to Turin to work as a shoe-shine boy and start a new life with her illegitimate baby son, pretending that the infant is her brother. The song is a Savoyard hurdy-gurdy song, sung as payment for lodging at guesthouses on the way to Turin, and is referred to as ‘that well-known song, of which she had slightly changed the words’ (« cet air si connu dont elle avait un peu changé les paroles »).[47]  The novella ends with Claudine reforming the Englishman into a decent man, marrying him and being happily reunited with her father. The song is a dialogue between an unnamed individual and ‘poor Jeannette’ who is sad and does not sing any longer because she has fallen in love with the wrong person. She is exhorted to choose a shepherd instead but replies that even the king would be refused: once one loves, one is no longer in a position to choose. Like the first song, then, these verses focus on unrequited love.

The first verse is written into the staves of the musical notation. The second verse is written below the music, line by line. The copy in Kurakina’s album is linguistically almost identical to Florian’s published text apart from a few minor mistakes. In the second verse, the inversions of the original are written down without hyphens in Kurakina’s manuscript (« peux tu » instead of « peux-tu » (‘can you’); « crois moi » instead of « crois-moi » (‘believe me’); « lui même » instead of « lui-même » (‘himself’)). The first line of the second verse, « jeune fillette » (‘young girl’) has been copied as « jeune et fillette » (young and young girl). If someone wrote the Florian poem in Kurakina’s album before she wrote the song, they may have done so from memory and made a mistake; at any rate, the phrasing of Kurakina’s song does not dictate an extra syllable. Overall, however, the French in these excerpts corresponds to the linguistic norms of the day. As for the choice of French for these texts, it is unproblematic: it is the original language of the works in question and all participants in salon society would have been expected to understand it.


As mentioned above, Kurakina stresses the similarities of Parisian and Russian social life. These similarities would seem to be of several kinds. Firstly, the principles underlying salon sociability and membership are the same in both places. Although salon boundaries were relatively porous, adherence to the salon’s modes of communication, pursuit of its pastimes, observance of its bon ton and display of the right sort of knowledge were necessary if a participant was to be accepted as a member of this community. Even the adaptation of the first song that we have published here may have served to strengthen the community of the elite who attended salons and who had detailed knowledge of the popular literary works of the day. Such adaptation was a game for those present, helping them to develop the cultural capital that membership of the salon and awareness of its norms conferred. Secondly, in both France and Russia salon sociability entailed participation in certain activities, which could include literary or musical performances and album-keeping as well as – most importantly – polite conversation. Kurakina’s popularity in this environment was based not only on her nobility, hospitality and personal charm but also, to a considerable degree, on a talent for these socially sanctioned activities, especially her ability to entertain her guests by creating and performing musical works belonging to the accepted gallant genre of romance. Thirdly, in both countries again, women played a most important role in this social environment. (Indeed Russian salons have been described as even more focused than French salons on the women hosting them.[48]) Women were key cultural figures who wielded considerable influence here. Lastly, since the salon was a form of sociability originating in France, it is unsurprising that the use of the French language was crucial to the maintenance of Russian salon culture, as evidenced in the texts we publish. French was a key to the polite knowledge possessed by salon society, a knowledge shared by everyone who listened to the musical works that Kurakina composed and performed.

Thus for many years and over several reigns – at least in the latter part of the reign of Catherine II and throughout the reigns of Paul and Alexander I – Kurakina fitted perfectly into the culture of the Russian salon and made a major contribution to it. A cosmopolitan person who had lived in France for long stretches of time and who was well integrated into French polite society in Paris, she relished the sociability with which both music and the French language were inextricably linked in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century St Petersburg.

Gesine Argent
February 2013

*Image credits

Portrait (1801-02) of Prince Aleksei Kurakin by Vladimir Borovikovsky: image courtesy of Olga's Gallery,
Excerpt of manuscript of « Celle qui fait mon malheur »: photograph published with kind permission of The Russian State Library (Российская государственная библиотека), Moscow

[1] A. L. Porfir’eva, Музыкальный Петербург: энциклопедический словарь [Musical St Petersburg: An Encyclopaedic Dictionary] (St Petersburg: Kompozitor, 1996, etc.), vol. I, book 2, p. 119.

[2] Ibid.

[3] « Trois romances, pour le piano, composées par la Princesse Nathalie de Kourakin », listed in C. Gardeton, Bibliographie musicale de la France et de l’étranger, ou Repertoire général systematique de tous les traités et œuvres de musique vocale et instrumentale, imprimés ou gravés en Europe jusqu’à ce jour, avec l’indication des Lieux de l’impression, des Marchands et des Prix [Musical Bibliography of France and Abroad, or Systematic General Repertoire of All the Treatises and Works of Vocal and Instrumental Music printed or engraved in Europe to This Day, with the Places of Printing and the Sellers and Prices indicated] (Paris: Niogret, 1822), p. 20.

[4] N. A. Ogarkova, «Французский романс в России в последней трети XVIII века» [‘The French romance in Russia in the last third of the eighteenth century’], in Россия—Европа. Контакты музыкальных культур. Проблемы музыкознания [Russia—Europe. Contacts between Musical Cultures. Questions of Musicology], ed. E. S. Khodorkovskaia (St Petersburg: Rossiiskii institut istorii iskusstv, 1994), p. 74.

[6] V. Zubov, Павел I [Paul I] (St Petersburg: Aleteiia, 2007), p. 69. An electronic version of this book is accessible at (accessed on 21.02.2013).

[7] N. I. Kurakina and F. A. Kurakin, Souvenirs des voyages de la princesse Natalie de Kourakine, 1810-1830 : Paris, Vienne, Carlsbad, etc. [Memories of the Travels of Princess Natalie de Kourakine, 1810-1830: Paris, Vienna, Carlsbad, etc.] (Moscow: T.I.M., 1903).

[8] E. P. Grechanaia, Когда Россия говорила по-французски: русская литература на французском языке (XVIII – первая половина XIX века) [When Russia spoke French: Russian Literature in French (from the Eighteenth to the First Half of the Nineteenth Century)] (Moscow: IMLI RAN, 2010), pp. 168-69.

[9] ebook available at (accessed on 28.01.2013). On Kurakina’s opinion of Vigée-Lebrun, see W. H. Helm, Vigee-Lebrun 1755-1842: Her Life, Works, and Friendships (Boston:  Small, Maynard and Company, 1915), available online at (accessed on 22.01.2013). See also M. Percival, ‘Sentimental poses in the souvenirs of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun’, French Studies, vol. 57, no. 2 (2003), p. 149.

[10] D. Loewen, ‘Placing the poet in the prose autobiographies of Ivan Dmitriev and Gavrila Derzhavin’, Canadian Slavonic Papers/Revue Canadienne des Slavistes, vol. 47, nos 1-2 (2005), p. 23. Dmitriev, incidentally, has also been described as a language purist: see N. Polevoi, Очерки русской литературы [Essays on Russian Literature] (St Petersburg: [V tip. Sakharova], 1839), vol. II, p. 459; cited in R. Neuhäuser, Towards the Romantic Age: Essays on Sentimental and Preromantic Literature (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974), p. 2.

[11] These lines of 1810 are quoted in Porfir’eva, Музыкальный Петербург, p. 119; see also Ogarkova, «Французский романс в России», p. 90. In Greek mythology, Erato is the muse of lyrical poetry.

[12] O. S. Sukhariova, Кто был кто в России от Петра I до Павла I [Who was Who in Russia from Peter I to Paul I] (Moscow: AST, 2005); cited at (accessed on 13.02.2013).

[14] R. Simanowski, ‘Einleitung. Der Salon als dreifache Vermittlungsinstanz’ [‘Introduction. The salon as triple mediator’], in Europa – ein Salon? Beiträge zur Internationalität des literarischen Salons [Europe a salon? Contributions on the International Nature of the Literary Salon], ed. R. Simanowski, H. Turk and T. Schmidt (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 1999), p. 8.

[15] P. Seibert, ‘Der Literarische Salon – ein Forschungsüberblick’ [‘The literary salon – a research overview’], in Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur [International Archive for the Social History of German Literature], special no. 3 (1993), pp. 159-220.

[16] L. Bernstein, ‘Women on the verge of a new language: Russian salon hostesses in the first half of the nineteenth century’, in H. Goscilo and B. Holmgren (eds), Russia, Women, Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), p. 209. See also W. Rosslyn, ‘Making their way into print: poems by eighteenth-century Russian women’, The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 78, no. 3 (2000), p. 412.

[17] A. Mézin and V. Rjéoutski (eds), Les Français en Russie au siècle des Lumières. Dictionnaire des Français, Suisses, Wallons et autres francophones en Russie de Pierre le Grand à Paul Ier [French People in Russia in the Age of Enlightenment: A Dictionary of French, Swiss, Walloon and Other Francophone People in Russia from Peter the Great to Paul I] (Ferney-Voltaire: Centre international d’étude du XVIIIe siècle, 2011), vol. II, p. 482.

[18] I. S. Chistova, «Пушкин в салоне Авдотьи Голицыной» [‘Pushkin in Avdot’ia Golitsyna’s salon’], available online at (accessed on 12.02.2013), p. 190.

[19] R. Stites, Serfdom, Society, and the Arts in Imperial Russia: The Pleasure and the Power (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), p. 17.

[20] Grechanaia, Когда Россия говорила по-французски, pp. 239 f.

[21]; Porfir’eva, Музыкальный Петербург, pp. 119 f.

[22] L. Fusil, Souvenirs d’une actrice [Memoirs of an Actress], 3 vols (Paris: Dumont, 1841) vol. II; accessible as an ebook at (accessed 20.02.2013). Fusil’s memoirs have been found to contain factual and chronological errors (on this topic see: V. van Krugten-André, « Louise Liard-Fleury », website of Société Internationale pour l'Etude des Femmes de l'Ancien Régime, at (accessed 20.02.2013). Nevertheless, her reminiscences on noble life in St Petersburg give the same impression as those by other visitors like Vigée-Lebrun.

[23] K. Bartig, ‘Rethinking Russian music: institutions, nationalism, and untold histories’, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, vol. 11, no. 3 (2010), p. 611.

[24] M. G. Dolgushina, «Камерная вокальная музыка в России первой половины XIX-ого века: К проблеме связей с европейской культурой» (‘Vocal chamber music in Russia in the first half of the nineteenth century: on the question of connections with European culture’), doctoral thesis, Vologda State Pedagogical University (2010). We have used the abstract of Dolgushina’s thesis, which is available online at (accessed on 12.02.2013).

[25] S. Schneck, ‘Musik in Rußland im 17. Jahrhundert. Soziale Distinktion und die Entstehung einer intellektuellen Disziplin’ [‘Music in Russia in the seventeenth century. Social distinction and the development of an intellectual discipline’], Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas [Yearbook for the History of Eastern Europe], vol. 50, no. 4 (2002), pp. 532 f.; M. Ritzarev, Eighteenth-Century Russian Music (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), p. 248.

[26] G. Seaman, ‘Amateur Music-Making in Russia’, Music and Letters, vol. 47, no. 3 (1966), p. 259.

[27] Dolgushina, «Камерная вокальная музыка в России», op. cit.

[28] i.e. Journal of Italian and Other Ariettas with Accompaniment on Harp: see W. M. Govea, Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Harpists: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1995), p. 35; Mézin and Rjéoutski (eds), Les Français en Russie au siècle des Lumières, vol. II, pp. 147 f.

[29] i.e. Journal of Italian, French and Russian Tunes with Guitar Accompaniment by J. B. Hainglaise: see Mézin and Rjéoutski (eds), Les Français en Russie au siècle des Lumières, vol. II, p. 409.

[30] i.e. The Troubadour of the North, a Journal of Song with Accompaniment on Piano, dedicated to Her Imperial Majesty Elizabeth Alexeevna, Empress of All the Russias : see Mézin and Rjéoutski (eds), Les Français en Russie au siècle des Lumières, vol. II, p. 212. 

[31] On the matters discussed in this paragraph see the following: Dolgushina, «Камерная вокальная музыка в России», op. cit.; Grechanaia, Когда Россия говорила по-французски, pp. 240 f.; Ogarkova, «Французский романс в России», pp. 74, 77, 80; and L. Schnapper, « Chanter la romance » [‘Singing the romance’], Napoleonica, vol. 1, no. 7 (2010), p. 3.

[32] B. G. Jackson, Say Can You Deny Me: A Guide to Surviving Music by Women from the 16th  through the 18th   Centuries (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994): see, p. 229 (accessed on 27.02.2013). Jackson misquotes this song as « Que faim avoir les hirondelles ».

[33] Etrennes lyriques, anacréontiques, présentées à Madame... : année 1792 [Lyrical and Anacreontic Etrennes presented to Madam […]: The Year 1792] (Paris: F. J. Cholet de Jetphort), pp. 109 f.

[34] J. Hirschbiegel, Etrennes: Untersuchungen zum höfischen Geschenkverkehr im spätmittelalterlichen Frankreich der Zeit König Karls VI. (1380-1422) [Etrennes: An Examination of Courtly Exchange of Presents in Late Medieval France at the Time of King Charles VI (1380-1422)] (Munich: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag GmbH, 2003).

[35] « Les livres d’étrennes, 1880 » [‘Books of étrennes’], Revue des deux mondes [The Review of Two Worlds], vol. 42, no. 3 (1880): available at,_1880 (accessed on 13.02.2013), pp. 934-44.

[36] This is the song « La lumière la plus pure brille » [‘The purest light shines’] by Jean-Joseph Rodolphe (1730-1812), from the music that he wrote for De l’aveugle de Palmyre [The Blind Man of Palmyra], a pastoral comedy by François-Georges Fouques Deshayes (known as Desfontaines) (1733-1825). See D. J. Buch, Magic Flutes and Enchanted Forests: The Supernatural in Eighteenth-Century Musical Theater (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), p. 128.

[37] For de Jetphort’s text see n. 1 to the texts that accompany this introductory essay in our corpus, in Noble sociability: French romances in Princess Natalia Kurakina’s album: texts.

[38] Grechanaia, Когда Россия говорила по-французски, p. 237.

[39] Quoted by Grechanaia (ibid., p. 238).

[40] Ibid., pp. 352 f.

[41] P. A. Rosenmeyer, The Poetics of Imitation: Anacreon and the Anacreontic Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 2.

[42] J.-P. Claris de Florian, Oeuvres complètes [Complete Works] (Leipzig: Gerard Fleischer, 1810), p. 229. An electronic version of the book can be found at (accessed on 14.02.2013).

[43] Ogarkova, «Французский романс в России», pp. 82 f.

[44] Ibid., p. 76.

[45] F. Hensel, Frühe französische Lieder [Early French Songs], ed. U. Merk (Kassel: Furore-Verlag, 2006).

[46] J. B. Hainglaise, Journal d'airs italiens, français et russes avec accompagnement de guitare par J.B. Hainglaise (St. Petersburg: J. B. Hainglaise, Gerstenberg et Dittmar, 1796-98). Kurakina’s songs « Je vais donc quitter pour toujours » [‘So I am going to leave forever’],  « Quand nos jours » [‘When our days’] and ‘T’amo tanto’ [‘I love you so much’] are included on Music of Russian Princesses: from the Court of Catherine the Great, Dorian Recordings, CD, 053479324429 (2002). See also a recording of Kurakina’s song « Je vais donc quitter pour toujours » (text from Florian’s melodrama Estelle et Némorin) at (accessed on 12.02.2013).

[47] There is a long history of young migrant workers from Savoy (so-called petits Savoyards) who would leave their homes for the winter to earn money in cities. For more information on Savoyard migrant children, see A. Chevalier, « Métiers et condition des "Petits Savoyards" d’après quelques documents écrits (non littéraires) » [‘Professions and condition of the “petits Savoyards” according to written (non-literary) documents’], in Métiers et industrie en Savoie. Actes du congrès des Sociétés savants de la Savoie, Annecy 1974 [Professions and Industry in Savoy. Proceedings of the Congress of Learned Societies of Savoy, Annecy 1974] (Académie Salésienne, 1976), pp. 215-27; available electronically at (accessed  on 13.02.2013). Besides taking on such jobs as chimney sweep and shoe-shine boy, these children also became hurdy-gurdy players. Susann and Samuel Palmer mention a well-known story of a female Savoyard hurdy-gurdy player who travelled with her baby brother to England in 1749 and fell in love with an unscrupulous Englishman, the Duke of Cumberland: see Susann Palmer and Samuel Palmer, The Hurdy-Gurdy (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1980), p. 164.

[48] Bernstein, ‘Women on the verge of a new language’, p. 221.


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