April 11, 2009
The secret life of the Jazz Baroness
She was the Rothschild beauty who scandalised the dynasty by walking out on her family to become muse to the jazz demi-monde of New York. Now her great-niece has pieced together the extraordinary story of Nica de Koenigswarter.
Hannah Rothschild's search for her great aunt Pannonica has taken her the best part of ten years. The result is a moving film and - due next year - a book about the life of this extraordinary woman. Not just extraordinary because she decided to leave her husband and five children at a time when women simply did not do such things, but extraordinary because of the role that she played in the lives of the jazz giants of New York in the Fifties and Sixties, who were struggling not only to establish their own brand of new, passionate music but also against a racist culture. Pannonica fell in love with the music and then with the players: she bailed them out of jail, tended their wounds, gave them shelter when they were broke and coped with their drug habits.