Coming Attractions: Vivien Chartres

EDIT (5/28/2012): This essay has now been posted here.


I thought I would start a series of blog entries describing upcoming projects (FYI, I’m going to tag them “Coming Attractions”), so everyone is encouraged to check back as often as possible. There may be relatively long stretches of silence on this blog as I do research and write rough drafts, etc., so I want everyone to stay tuned even if it seems like I’ve abandoned the blog.

Recently I became interested in the life story of violin prodigy Vivien Chartres (1893-1941). Chartres was a musical phenomenon in the early years of the twentieth century, and in the contemporary press her name was often mentioned in the same sentence as Elman and Huberman. Her story is truly fit for a novel…and unlike most life stories, it actually became one: Vivien’s mother, Annie Vivanti Chartres, was a professional writer who wrote a book about Vivien in 1910 called The Devourers. As you can imagine, since the fictional Devourers is a major primary source, it occasionally gets a bit sticky trying to separate fact from fiction, and the challenge has been a fascinating one that has made me ask a lot of questions… What roles do parents play in raising musical children? What roles should they play? How far should a gifted child be pushed? How do writers fictionalize their own experiences, and how can historians untangle the truth? I’ve been in touch with some people who have helped me uncover some really interesting, thought-provoking things about Vivien and Vivanti, and I’m super excited to be able to share my findings. To the best of my knowledge, this will be the first biography of Chartres available to the general public. So if you’re interested, be sure to check back in the coming weeks. The subjects are extraordinary and I promise that their contemporary relevance will surprise you.

Vivien Chartres and her mother Annie Vivanti


Filed under My Writing, Women Violinists

4 responses to “Coming Attractions: Vivien Chartres

  1. Dear Madam / Sir,
    God works in strage ways and since my arrival in Prague few weeks ago I nave been confronted with extraordinary happenings which someone else might qualify as “magic” would this word not have been often misused.
    I have discovered the name and the deeds of Vivien Chartres by an absurd and absolute coincidence which has nothing to do with Prague. But I can explain later.
    I am conducting some research on the Italians in Prague, especially those who have contributed to the fame and the priviledges of the so called Congregation of the Italians, an entity founded in 1573 and active until 1942. I am the “steward” of that entity, which was located in the premises of the today Itaian Institute of Culture.
    The story and the legend of Annie Vivanti and of Vivien Chartres belong to this environment and I would like to know more, in order to celebrate their memories.
    I would be happy to read from you and to reconstruct this piece of history.
    Sincerely Yours
    Paolo Sabbatini di Rancidoro, Director
    Italian Culture Institute in Prague

    • I am so pleased to hear from you. I am just finishing up a 30-page essay on Chartres and her relationship with her mother. I would like to send it to two research partners before I share it with the Internet. I will send that draft out within the next couple of days; hopefully by the end of this month, it will be published on this blog. So watch out for that.

  2. juliet

    Hello, I am the great grandaughter of Vivienne Chartres (daughter of Douglas d’Enno) and I was delighted to see of your interest in this matter, and wait with baited breath for the next instalment. With best wishes, Juliet .

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