Nica de Koenigswarter


Nica de Koenigswarter

Baroness Pannonica "Nica" de Koenigswarter (10 December 1913 – 30 November 1988) was a British bebop jazz enthusiast and member of the prominent Rothschild international financial dynasty.

Born Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild, she was the daughter of Charles Rothschild and Rozsika Edle Rothschild ("née" von Wertheimstein). The name "Pannonica" identifies several plants of the Pannonian plain that support butterflies and moths, a great interest of her father's. Her brother was Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild and her sister Miriam Louisa Rothschild was a distinguished zoologist.

In 1935 she married French diplomat Baron Jules de Koenigswarter, later a Resistance hero. Nica worked for Charles de Gaulle during World War II. The couple separated in 1951 and she moved to New York, renting a suite at the Hotel Stanhope on Fifth Avenue. She and Jules eventually divorced in 1956. [ [http://www.thepeerage.com/p19561.htm thePeerage.com - Person Page 19561 ] ]

She became a friend and patron of many pioneer jazz musicians, hosting jam sessions in her suite and is sometimes referred to as the "bebop baroness" for her patronage of Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. After Parker's death at the Stanhope in 1955, the management asked her to leave, and she moved to the Bolivar Hotel at 230 Central Park West, a place commemorated in Thelonious Monk's 1956 tune "Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are".

She was introduced to Thelonious Monk by Jazz pianist/composer Mary Lou Williams in Paris while attending the "Salon du Jazz 1954", and championed his work in the USA, wrote the liner notes for his 1962 Columbia album "Criss-Cross", and even took the charges when she and Monk were caught with marijuana by police. After Monk ended his public performances he retired to Nica's house in Weehawken, New Jersey and died there in 1982.

Gigi Gryce's "Nica's Tempo", Sonny Clark's "Nica", Horace Silver's "Nica's Dream", Kenny Dorham's "Tonica", Kenny Drew's "Blues for Nica", Freddie Redd's "Nica Steps Out", Barry Harris's "Inca", Tommy Flanagan's "Thelonica" and Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica" were all named after her.

She was played by Diane Salinger in the 1988 Clint Eastwood film "Bird". She also contributed to the Eastwood-produced film "" (1988).

Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter died in 1988 at the age of 74. She had five children, two grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Three Wishes

In October 2006 the French company Buchet Chastel published Nica's book "Les musiciens de jazz et leurs trois vœux" ("The Jazz Musicians and their Three Wishes"). Compiled between 1961 and 1966, it is a book of interviews with 300 musicians in which she asked each for their "three wishes", and is accompanied by her Polaroid photographs. The book was edited for publication by Nadine de Koenigswarter. Nadine de Koenigswarter was always introduced by Nica as her granddaughter; actually she is Nica's great-niece. [ [http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/musik/0,1518,488847,00.html Jazz und Fotografie: Bebop-Baronin am Drücker - Kultur - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten ] ] An English language version is currently available in paperback.

Biographies

A research article about her role "at the nexus of gender, race, and class during a particularly transformative period in American popular culture" was published in 2006. [Kastin, David. "Nica's Story: The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness" in "Popular Music & Society", Volume 29, Number 3, July 2006 , pp. 279-298.]

"The Jazz Baroness", [ [http://www.thejazzbaroness.co.uk/ The Jazz Baroness website] ] a radio documentary profile of Nica de Koenigswarter, written and directed by her great-niece Hannah Rothschild, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 12 February 2008. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008x9mz BBC Radio 4] ]

Notes

References

* Obituary, "Daily Telegraph", 1988.

External links

* [http://www.lesoir.be/culture/musiques/2006/12/28/article_musique_un_superbe_et.shtml "Les trois voeux de Pannonica" - book review in French]
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE7D71F3DF931A35751C1A96E948260 New York Times obituary]
*Nica's Story: The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-15890352_ITM


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