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.