Marie Lynen

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From left to right in the front row:
the Flemish composer Peter Benoit, Marie Lynen (1837-1929), Franz Liszt, Mme de Harveng, and Victor Lynen, pictured in 1885

Russian-born Belgian music-lover and patron of the arts (b. 1837 in Moscow; d. 1929 in Brussels), born Marie Mathilde Könemann (Мари Матильда Кёнеман).

She was born in Moscow, the daughter of a Belgian textile manufacturer Albert Könemann (1803–1887), whose factory in the old Russian capital employed some 230 workers, and his wife Johanna Peltzer (1806–1883). In 1857, Marie married her cousin Victor Lynen (1834–1894) in Moscow, and soon afterwards the newly-wed couple moved to Antwerp, Lynen's home town. As a wealthy businessman and patron of the arts Victor Lynen was appointed president of the executive committee responsible for organizing the Antwerp World Fair in 1885, and it was in this capacity that he welcomed Franz Liszt to stay at his and Marie's house from 4 to 10 June that summer. However, the great Hungarian pianist and composer had already stayed with the Lynens previously, in 1881 and 1882, and he also corresponded with them. Marie helped to organize a number of concerts by Liszt in Antwerp. She was also acquainted with Charles Gounod and Aleksandr Borodin, and in 1886 she received from the latter a photograph with a personal inscription and musical autograph [1].

Marie also exchanged some letters with Ivan Turgenev, who complimented her for keeping up her Russian while living in Belgium and for retaining fond memories of the country she was born in [2]. In one of her letters to the writer she invited him to come to Antwerp for the first performance in Belgium of Gounod's opera Polyeucte on 4 November 1879, but Turgenev was unable to make the journey from Paris [3]. Two years later, Marie expressed an interest in obtaining a copy of Le Dernier Sorcier, the operetta which Pauline Viardot had composed in 1867 to a French libretto by Turgenev, but the latter wrote back to her explaining that the work had never been published [4].

Tchaikovsky corresponded with Marie Lynen in January 1893 shortly after his visit to Brussels to give a concert of his own works.

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

One letter from Tchaikovsky to Marie Lynen has survived, dating from 1893, and is available in an English translation on this site:

Notes and References

  1. Information provided by Alexandre Zviguilsky and Jean Blankoff in: Cahiers Ivan Tourguéniev, Pauline Viardot, Maria Malibran, vol. 21 (1997), p. 152–155, where Borodin's photograph with a dedication for Marie Lynen is also reproduced. Ten letters from Liszt to Marie and Victor Lynen, dating from 1881 to 1886, have been published in: Malou Haine, Franz Servais et Franz Liszt. Une amitié filiale (Brussels, 1996), p. 127–175}.
  2. See Turgenev's letter of 15/27 May 1878 to Marie Lynen, an extract from which was published by Patrick Waddington in: 'More material by and concerning Turgenev', New Zealand Slavonic Journal 19 (1985), p. 70. The addressee of this letter, however, was identified incorrectly there.
  3. See Turgenev's letter of 5/17 October 1879 to Marie Lynen, in: Cahiers Ivan Tourguéniev, Pauline Viardot, Maria Malibran, vol. 21 (1997), p. 152–155.
  4. See Turgenev's letter of 14/26 September 1881 to Marie Lynen, published fully for the first time by V. A. Lukina in: «Неизданное письмо И. С. Тургенева: дар Пушкинскому дому», Русская литература 2004, no. 2, p. 185. An excerpt from this letter was quoted by Nicholas G. Žekulin in his monograph: The Story of an Operetta: "Le Dernier Sorcier" by Pauline Viardot and Ivan Turgenev (Munich, 1989), p. 69–70.