The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild and Jazz's Secret Muse

By Hannah Rothschild

Beautiful and lively, Pannonica Rothschild, often called Nica, used to be born in 1913 to eccentric privilege and a storied family members historical past. After marrying good, she settled right into a French chateau to undergo kids and help her husband’s conflict profession. but if Nica heard “Round hour of darkness” via jazz composer Thelonious Monk, every thing replaced. She deserted her marriage, discovered Monk in ny, and committed herself to him and to different musicians, turning into the unsung philanthropist of the city’s Jazz scene.
Hannah Rothschild has given 20 years to the hunt of unveiling who her great-aunt fairly used to be. Drawing on unpublished archival fabric, inner most relatives documents and her personal interviews, she has produced a desirable portrait—part musical odyssey, half love story—that showcases a lady sooner than her time who dared to reside as she wanted.

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But Nica was once allowed to stick at Ashton for just a few minutes. whereas there, her childrens Patrick and Janka performed with my father and aunt, who were left during this refuge with their grandmother. Rozsika wrote, “The childrens [my father Jacob and his sister Sarah] have a pony cart. they're as brown as berries as they run approximately all day virtually with none outfits. ” information reached Jules that the German military had ransacked Château d’Abondant and in basic terms Nica’s canine have been left. “Alas final Tuesday,” Rozsika wrote, “Nica and the kids left for Canada. It was once the want of Jules who instructed her that for his sake and his peace of brain she needs to take the kids abroad. She might have most well liked to depart them with me and be close to Jules yet i believe Jules needs to be thought of whereas he's combating for his state because the first day of the struggle. Nica regarded relatively attractive and observed all her buddies in London and Miriam helped her to get off. ” I learn and reread this letter, attempting to decipher what was once particularly happening. back Jules’s needs have been paramount: Nica needed to go away at the back of her state of start and her relations opposed to her will for “his sake and his peace of brain. ” She did her bit, which was once to obey and glance appealing. The voyage around the Atlantic was once perilous, with the boat narrowly escaping aerial bombardment. the yank author Virginia Cowles, who made the transatlantic crossing with Nica’s cousins, complained that their staple vitamin of caviar and foie gras used to be no longer very filling. Nica was once twenty-seven yet nonetheless felt absolute to stick with her husband’s directions. Arriving in the USA, she acquired a cable, informing her that Rozsika had died on June 30, 1940, of a center assault. caught at the a long way part of the Atlantic, she used to be not able to wait her mother’s funeral. Settling her teenagers with kinfolk pals, the Guggenheims, on their eighty-acre property on manhattan, Nica lower back to England. This used to be no longer an strange determination on the time: my mom and her sister, elderly 4 and , have been despatched on my own to the USA in 1940 to stay with friends to look forward to the top of the battle. What turns out heartless now was once general then. For a time Nica labored as a volunteer yet, with out the presence of her husband or her mom, with Victor and Miriam clear of domestic on struggle paintings, and her childrens millions of miles away, she felt purposeless and misplaced. Nica, who had married a Frenchman with a suspiciously Germanic-sounding identify, had little likelihood of being authorised via the British military. She may perhaps, like a lot of her family, have stayed in manhattan or stumbled on a few type of paintings in England as a part of the warfare attempt. besides the fact that, made up our minds to play an energetic front-line function within the clash, she determined to affix the unfastened French military within the desire that she will be in a position to struggle along her husband. * * * *To this present day Eric de Rothschild refuses to tear out the road of showers the German officials put in in his chateau to function a reminder of what may have occurred. 12 • Pistol-Packing Mama Nica used to be now not the one Rothschild girl to affix the loose French military.

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