I recently had the privilege to be invited to a very private concert, organised by the “Association Artisitique Suédoise à Paris” and which took place in the home of the pianist Helge Antoni and his wife Marissa.
Helge is a fascinating person with a very international life … and of course a brilliant pianist. You can go to his site for further details. He offered us a Chopin recital, of course with reference to the 200 years since Frédéric’s birth. It may be mentioned that Frédéric lived for a number of years only two minutes of walk from here, in Square d’Orléans (see previous post).
Helge also played a wonderful interpretation of François Couperin’s “Les Barricades Mystérieuses”, normally of course performed on harpsichord (cembalo), but I’m sure that if the piano as we know it had existed during Couperin’s days, this might have been the interpretation he would have liked to perform or hear. Maybe also a word about the surprising name of this piece of music, the “mysterious barricades”; Helge told us that he had learnt that during the Louis XIV period this would refer to the ladies eyelashes. You can listen to it here; unfortunately the sound recording leaves to desire.
What further added to the value of the evening was of course the talk with Helge and the members of the audience … and the champagne!
… and also the fact that the home of the Antoni couple used to be the workshop of Degas during his last – almost blind - years. I guess he produced some of his famous ballerina statues here. Degas lived and died in a flat on the other side of the street – Boulevard de Clichy.
Behind a normal entrance on the Boulevard Clichy to a private mansion which once belonged to a French Minister, Téophile Delcassé and his rich wife, you can find another building, full of artist studios; this is where Helge and his wife live. The Delcassé couple decided to build this on their property to allow space for those days’ artists and fortunately most of the studios are still occupied by artists. So, Degas was one of them, Picasso was another one (he lived here some three years during his cubist days), Sarah Bernhardt a third one (she used the studio for one of her hobbies – sculpturing).
Looking out through the windows, you have a chance to overlook the very private little alley, Avenue Frochot, inhabited previously (Jean Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec…) and still today by a number of celebrities.
It should be noted that these addresses are not open to public – you need to know the entrance code or be invited.
My previous blog, PHO, was in operation for a year as from March 2007. It contains similar posts as this one, basically talking about different well known or more secrete sites in Paris. You can reach it by clicking HERE.
Si vous chercher quelqu'un à Paris qui ouvre des portes, normalement fermées, et qui sait tout sur l’histoire de Paris, vous pouvez contacter Marc Soléranski, conférencier national, historien, tel. 01 42 78 14 96. email@example.com
If you look for someone in Paris who can open doors which normally may be closed, who knows everything about the history of Paris, you can contact Marc Soléranski, lecturer and historian, phone +33 1 42 78 14 96. firstname.lastname@example.org