The name of Auguste de Radwan (1867-1957) has faded into obscurity but he was once a famous concert pianist, a notable authority on Chopin, fêted by the beau monde of Europe. His friends included Princess [Roza] Radziwill and Isidor Philipp.It was hugely exciting to discover over 250 letters by Radwan, written mostly in French, amongst the Gogerddan estate records. Radwan was Polish but, like many other musicians, he was based in Paris for most of his career. In January 1926 a student of the Conservatoire de Paris asked for his autograph. Her name was Marjorie Howell of Cwmcynfelyn near Aberystwyth (1906-1993). She was totally starstruck: Il etait charmant! Je l’adore! and the encounter developed into a love affair which lasted almost until Marjorie’s marriage to Sir Lewes Pryse of Gogerddan in 1938. The letters and Marjorie’s diaries vividly portray the musical life of Paris, the concerts by Vladimir Horowitz, Arthur Rubenstein, Emil Von Sauer and Ignacy Jan Paderewski, as well as Radwan’s own performance for Mareschal Ferdinand Foch in 1928, and his meeting with Moriz Rosenthal in 1931. Marjorie described Radwan’s apartment at 107 Rue de l’Universite: three lovely rooms, two pianos, many books, pictures and a portrait of Chopin in the bedroom. His effects included silver-framed photographs of the queens of Belgium and Italy, and the velvet waistcoats and silk stocks that he liked to wear. After Marjorie’s return to Wales, the strain of the long-distance romance eventually caused its demise. Radwan kept her photographs and her first letter in his wallet until the day he died.
Hilary Peters, Assistant Archivist