21 september 2023
The restored Villa Viardot was inaugurated in Bougival, France under the patronage of the French President during the European Heritage Days, which were well attended by visitors. On this occasion, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, called for "the effective establishment of the Centre Européen de Musique" in Bougival.
The speeches given by the various speakers were an opportunity to salute the work of the architects, craftsmen and workers, to celebrate the figure of Pauline Viardot, as well as the Centre Européen de Musique project and the fight led by Jorge Chaminé. From left to right: Olivier Bourion, secretary-general of the TotalEnergies Foundation; Olivier Delaporte, mayor of La Celle-Saint-Cloud; François de Mazières, president of the Versailles Grand Parc urban community; Jorge Chaminé, founding president of the Centre Européen de Musique; Gabor Mester de Parajd, chief architect of historic monuments ; Bernhardt Eichner, Treasurer of the Fondation du Patrimoine; Philippe Bélaval, cultural adviser to the French President; Joséphine Kollmannsberger, Vice-President of the Conseil Départemental des Yvelines; Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary-General of Europa Nostra; Valérie Pécresse, President of the Ile-de-France Region and Luc Wattelle, Mayor of Bougival.
The ceremony and festivities took place on 16 and 17 September in and around the Villa Viardot, in the presence of Philippe Bélaval, cultural adviser to the French President, Luc Wattelle, Mayor of Bougival, Valérie Pécresse, President of the Ile-de-France Region, and Joséphine Kollmannsberger, Vice-President of the Conseil Départemental des Yvelines, François de Mazières, President of the Versailles Grand Parc urban community, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, Olivier Bourion, Secretary General of the TotalEnergies Foundation, Jorge Chaminé, founding President of the Centre Européen de Musique and Bernhardt Eichner, Treasurer of the Fondation du Patrimoine.
"With the completion of the restoration of the Villa Viardot, a new phase has begun which should see the effective establishment of the Centre Européen de Musique," said Emmanuel Macron in a message read out by his cultural adviser, Philippe Bélaval, who represented him at the inauguration ceremony for the restored Villa on 16 September 2023 in Bougival. The President of the Republic had welcomed the founding initiatives of the Centre Européen de Musique (CEM) project to the Elysée Palace in May 2019. The President expressed his belief in "the importance of music as a factor of communication and solidarity both at European level (Pauline Viardot was a perfect illustration of the contribution of music to the construction of a European culture) and at the level of each country".
The Villa Viardot in Bougival on 16 September 2023, the day of its inauguration after renovation.
Presidential invitation to find ways and means of launching the CEM in the near future
He expressed "his confidence in the enthusiasm of Jorge Chaminé, founding president of the Centre Européen de Musique, to bring this project to a successful conclusion with the support of all the public and private partners that this project must mobilise". The President stated that "the State will stand by these partners" and that he "invites them to meet to identify the ways and means of bringing the project to a swift conclusion". Finally, Emmanuel Macron expressed the hope that "announcements will be made very soon. The fulfilment of a wish that goes back nearly 20 years. The challenge is to bring this place back to life and make Pauline Viardot's dream come true". This wish, which dates back almost 20 years, is that of Jorge Chaminé, who has been fighting all these years to save the Villa Viardot, Georges Bizet's house and, more broadly, the hill of the Impressionists, and to integrate them into a transdisciplinary European project: the Centre Européen de Musique.
The message from the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, was read by his cultural adviser, Philippe Bélaval (full video in french)
Sandra Mamboury, great-great-granddaughter of Pauline García Viardot, and Cecilia Lavilla Berganza, daughter of Teresa Berganza, looked on as various speakers took the podium: Luc Wattelle, Mayor of Bougival, who praised the outstanding work of the restoration teams led by the chief architect of historic monuments, Gabor Mester de Parajd. The mayor of Bougival also praised the European dimension of the CEM. Valérie Pécresse recalled the importance of women in culture, particularly Pauline Viardot, and paid tribute to the commitment of Jorge Chaminé. Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, recalled the long-standing partnership between Europa Nostra and the CEM. The Secretary General referred to the CEM and its network of European Musicians' Houses and Museums as the only music organisation integrated within the European Heritage Hub, a pilot project of the European Union, of which Europa Nostra is the leader. Once on the podium, Jorge Chaminé paid tribute to the late personalities who have supported the CEM: Claudio Abbado, Nicholas Angelich, Teresa Berganza, Marie-Françoise Bucquet, Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, Aldo Ciccolini, Jean Daniel, Otto de Habsbourg-Lorraine, Henry-Louis de la Grange, Christina d’Orange-Nassau, princesse des Pays-Bas, Jorg Demus, Leon Fleischer, Jean Guillou, Jean Lacouture, Michel Legrand, Jesús López-Cobos, Eduardo Lourenço, Javier Pérez de Cuellar, Jean Piat.
The green amphitheatre on the outskirts of the Villa was the venue for the ceremony celebrating the rebirth of a European cultural landmark.
The founding president also recalled the CEM's raison d'être: "As well as working to resurrect Bougival's musical, cultural and artistic heritage, the CEM also wanted to offer a future to this glorious past. Not by getting bogged down in backward-looking rhetoric, but by trying to bring to life, for future generations, an outstanding example personified by the owners of this Villa or their friend Ivan Tourgueniev or their neighbour in Paris and here in Bougival, the universal Georges Bizet. But also by recognising the importance of Music as an instrument of unity in diversity, a motorbike for Europe, also establishing its rightful and long-awaited place, with its many virtues now recognised by the scientific world in our idea of an eco-responsible cultural district which, It will have its headquarters in Bougival, linking the Seine to the Colline des Impressionnistes, with the support of the Mayor of Bougival, Luc Wattelle, whom I would like to thank''.
First visit to the renovated Villa Viardot with elected representatives and patrons.
Jorge Chaminé has called for the construction of "an Island of Europe within the Ile de France, where an outline of European cultural awareness, open to the world and responding to the nationalisms and imperialisms that are springing up, invites us to give up nothing, because nationalisms are war, and the 20th century was the brutal proof of this. They didn't know it. We know. And our responsibility is heightened when echoes of a past thought to be over reach our ears once again. And that's why the CEM undertook VIA MUSICA, where, on 3 April 2022, the Network of European Musicians' Houses and Museums was created and signed, bringing together 57 institutions from 23 European countries. This is why the CEM is now part of the European Union's European Heritage Hub pilot project, led by Europa Nostra, as the only music institution in the project. That's why the CEM led the fight with the EU to extend the Erasmus + programme to platforms for the professional integration of young music graduates, where Bougival could play a pilot role. That's why we created the "Music-Brain" platform in collaboration with prestigious universities and research laboratories around the world, where we are working on the advances that music can make in the fields of education and therapy. This is why new fields of action are opening up to us today, in the various countries represented here, on the importance of music for ecology, biodiversity, the oceans, innovation and climate change. That's why we came up with the idea of a cultural eco-district, where Bougival could become a model!''
Pauline García Viardot l'Européenne", a round table on European culture organised by the Centre Européen de Musique in partnership with the Hippocrene Foundation, the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the magazine Le Grand Continent. The round table will be chaired by Jorge Chaminé, founder and president of the Centre Européen de Musique.
Compositions featured on these new releases were performed by Léa Sarfati, Helena Ressurreição (mezzosoprano) and pianist Francisco Soriano.
After the speeches, a musical moment took place in the heart of the Théâtre de Verdure opposite the Villa Viardot. Soprano Léa Sarfati and guitarist Gabriele Natilla performed several compositions by Pauline García Viardot. Officials and visitors were then able to enter the walls of the villa where the singer and composer and her husband Louis Viardot lived from 1874 to 1883. The afternoon in Bougival was punctuated by music and visits. Visitors were treated to the world premiere of the CD "Pauline García Viardot, l'Andalousie au cœur" and the score "Pauline Viardot- Mélodies espagnoles", published by Breitkopf & Härtel in collaboration with the CEM. Compositions from these new releases were performed by Léa Sarfati, Helena Ressurreição (mezzosoprano) and pianist Francisco Soriano. Two other musical moments, dedicated to the illustrious host of these premises at the end of the 19th century, brought together the talented Spanish pianist Isabel Pérez Dobarro and Léa Sarfati accompanied by the pianist Lucie Sansen.
Sunday 17 September was devoted to a round table organised by the Centre Européen de Musique in association with the Fondation Hippocrène, the magazine le Grand Continent and the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs: "Pauline García Viardot the European".
Located in Bougival in the Yvelines, the house where musician Pauline García Viardot (1821-1910) lived has been restored to its 19th-century glory with the completion of restoration work in 2019. It was in 2000, thanks to Madame Bénita Carteron, that baritone and committed musician Jorge Chaminé discovered Bougival and its forgotten treasures, the Villa Viardot, the home of an immense singer, pianist, composer, designer, costume-maker... "the arch-musician" as Franz Liszt called her, and the House of Georges Bizet, composer of Carmen, the most performed opera in the world. The desire to protect this priceless musical heritage quickly became apparent. Bénita Carteron and Jorge Chaminé co-founded the "Friends of Georges Bizet" association, which was chaired by Jean Lacouture with Jorge Chaminé as vice-president and Bénita Carteron as secretary.
On 19 December 2022, Jorge Chaminé, founder and president of the Centre Européen de Musique, visited Bougival in the company of the chief architect of historic monuments, Gabor Mester de Parajd (video).
In 1874, Pauline, her husband Louis Viardot and their friend, the Russian writer Ivan Tourgueniev, acquired the Frênes estate, where a villa in the Italian neoclassical style had been built on a green hillside. Ivan Turgenev then had a chalet built, which is now known as "La Datcha". They lived there regularly until their deaths in 1883. The Viardot couple and their friend Ivan Tourguéniev were very much involved in the major changes of the second half of the 19th century, entertaining the intellectual and artistic elite from all over Europe in their salons. In the midst of geopolitical vicissitudes, they welcomed their friends and world leaders in Paris, the Château de Courtavenel, Baden-Baden (Germany), Bougival and even London. They were cultural ambassadors throughout Europe.
Key dates of the Centre Européen de Musique in video
Convinced of the importance of reviving the Villa Viardot in a European context, Jorge Chaminé founded the Centre Européen de Musique (CEM). He mobilised great artists, organised concerts and conferences and, with the singer Teresa Berganza, launched masterclasses for young talent from all over Europe. Music is back in its rightful place in these creative salons, where the souls of Gabriel Fauré, Massenet, Gounod and Saint-Saëns soar.
In 2015, the villa's structural problems worsened considerably, threatening to collapse, forcing it to be closed to the public. Extensive restoration work became essential. With the support of the town of La Celle Saint Cloud, the town of Bougival and the CEM are mobilising to alert public opinion, the State, local authorities and foundations, and to find the substantial funding needed for the work.
In 2018, the owner signed a 25-year Long-Term Administrative Lease with the town of Bougival, entrusting it with the responsibility of finding the funding and completing the restoration of the villa. Thanks to the awareness-raising activities carried out by the CEM and the Europa Nostra association, chaired at the time by Placido Domingo, with the active support of Bougival town council, the Villa Viardot was selected as an emblematic site for the first Heritage Lotto. The Stéphane Bern mission, the Fondation du Patrimoine and the Française des Jeux awarded the Villa Viardot a budget of 500,000 euros. The remainder of the funding will come from the town of Bougival, the Ministry of Culture through the DRAC Ile-de-France, the Ile-de-France Region, the Yvelines Departmental Council, the Total Foundation, Crédit Agricole d'Ile-de-France Mécénat and the Crédit Agricole Pays de France Foundation. Restoration work will start in October 2019. In 2020, the site will be listed on the Inventaire Supplémentaire des Monuments Historiques.
The Villa Viardot will be one of the beating hearts of the Centre Européen de Musique: it will host events organised by VIAMUSICA, the Network of European Musicians' Houses and Museums founded in 2022 by the CEM, which brings together 57 cultural establishments and foundations in 22 European countries. It will host festivals, masterclasses, conferences and exhibitions organised by the CEM and various cultural associations based in Bougival. It will also offer the public a permanent exhibition, Memorabilia García, a collection of objects, works and unpublished memorabilia from the García family, which will open in the coming weeks.
The Villa Viardot will be at the heart of the constellation of centres set up throughout Europe by the Centre Européen de Musique, the first of which will be inaugurated in Portugal in October 2023, in Mafra and Lisbon. The aim is to recreate at the Villa Viardot the cosmopolitan cultural melting pot that it enjoyed in the days of its illustrious guests.