Marie de Benardaky

Tchaikovsky Research
Marie de Benardaky (1855–1913)
Photographed by Félix Nadar (1820–1910)

Russian amateur singer and society hostess (b. 1855; d. 1913), born Maria Pavlovna Leybrok (Мария Павловна Лейброк); known after her marriage as Marie de Benardaky, or Mariya Pavlovna Benardaki (Мария Павловна Бенардаки).

After studying at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Marie married Russian state councillor Nikolay Benardaki (1838–1909; known outside Russia as Nicolas de Benardaky) in Saint Petersburg on 13/25 July 1873. The couple's elder daughter, also called Marie (1874–1949), was later immortalised as the object of Marcel Proust's affections. Marie and Nicolas also had a younger daughter, Hélène (b. 1875).

Tchaikovsky conducted a concert in the Benardakys' home at 65 Rue de Chaillot, Paris, on 28 February 1888 [N.S.], in which Marie de Benardaky herself sang in an orchestral arrangement of the song Does the Day Reign? — No. 6 of the Seven Romances, Op. 47 — which had been made specially by the composer at her request.

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

2 letters from Tchaikovsky to Marie de Benardaky have survived, dating from 1888, both of which have been translated into English on this website:

2 letters from Marie de Benardaky to the composer dating from 1889 are preserved in the Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve at Klin (a4, Nos. 219–220).