The life story of Régine Wieniawski (1879 – 1932) sounds like a glamorous piece for the yellow press. She was born in Bruxelles, Belgium. Her father was the great polish violinist and composer Henrik Wieniawski, who died shortly after her birth. Régine excelled early at the piano and had performed several works of her own in public before moving to London with her mother, at the age of 16. Married to Sir Henry Dean Paul 5th, she published her works and performed under the name Poldowski. She gave concerts all over Europe (including performing for the royalties of Belgium and Spain) and the United States, where she even lived for a few years.
Her daughter was an actress, her son was an opium addict and it indeed seems like the entire family had more than casual interest in drugs. This was of course quite accepted and even fashionable in Europe in these days – certainly in artistic circles and high society. They all converted to Catholicism in 1916. Besides her international musical career, she also had a haute-couture boutique fashionable enough to deliver to the British Royal family.
The song “L’heure exquise” was composed to a piece of her favorite poet Paul Verlaine. It displays enchanting, broad vocal lines, french perfume in the piano accompaniment and quite a bit of “ecstasy”.