Wieniawski's Daughter: Portrait of a Lady

David Mooney, Dublin Institute of Technology

Document Type Article


Poldowski (1879-1932) was the pseudonym adopted by Irene Wieniawska (later Lady Irene dean Paul), composer, pianist and daughter of the celebrated violinist, Wieniawski. This paper aims to paint a portrait of this enigmatic lady, through an examination of her many roles as daughter, mother, wife, performer, composer and writer. As a well-established musical figure in Great Britain, Belgium, France and the United States during her professional life, like many other female composers, she disappeared from view after her early death. Possessed of a true ‘artistic temperament’, her colourful life – of which details are quite scant – provides a backdrop for a discussion of her compositions, mostly French songs, the majority of which are settings of the poetry of Verlaine. Her professional career attests to a busy concert schedule, both as a performer and composer. Her social connections opened many doors of opportunity and her charismatic personality allowed her to count among her close friends, some of the leading figures of musical and cultural life on both sides of the Atlantic. Her works are currently enjoying a revival and are beginning to be re-established, along with her reputation, as a woman of talent.