France-Amérique: You have performed several times in the United States, “from Florida to the most western part of Oregon.” What is your fondest memory of America?
Marina Chiche: I love American universities! Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by these places where interdisciplinary fields can be studied at a higher level. I performed concerts and gave masterclasses during my time in Oregon last year, but I also took a dance class and had extensive conversations with professors of ancient music history and literature. One student even taught me some fiddle folk melodies. It was a dream come true!
Who are two French and American musicians everyone should know about?
I would like to talk to you about two leading violinists, American musician Maud Powell [1867-1920] and French musician Ginette Neveu [1919-1949]. Maud Powell – who died a century ago this year – was the first leading female American soloist, a pioneer in many different ways, and a figure in the fight for women’s rights. Ginette Neveu is THE great female French violinist. She was tragically killed in 1949 at the age of 30, in the Constellation aircraft crash between Paris and New York, in which boxer Marcel Cerdan [Edith Piaf’s lover] also lost his life. Powell and Neveu are two of the late, great violinists of times past, and I paid tribute to them in my radio series this summer on France Musique. Most of the leading female violinists are in fact barely mentioned or entirely left out of books about the best musicians. It was high time women reclaimed their rightful part of this history. These exceptional, inspiring women deserve to live on in our collective memory.
Could you share your favorite piece with us?
In my album Post-scriptum [produced with pianist Aurélien Pontier], I recorded a number of American works such as pieces by Korngold, whose music I adore, and Stephen Foster’s “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” arranged by Jascha Heifetz, which is just irresistible!
Interview published in the September 2020 issue of France-Amérique. Subscribe to the magazine.