Romola de Pulszky

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Romola de Pulszky

Romola de Pulszky (or Romola Pulszky), (married name Nijinsky; February 20, 1891 – June 8, 1978), was a Hungarian aristocrat, the daughter of a Hungarian actress, who became the wife of the famous ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky.


Romola de Pulszky was the daughter of Emilia Markus and Charles Pulszky.[1] Her father was exiled when Romola was still a child and would eventually commit suicide in Australia. She tried a hand at her mother's profession (acting) and failed. She became engaged to a Hungarian baron at the age of 17, but ended up calling it off in 1912.[1] That same year she saw a performance of the Ballets Russes in Budapest, Hungary, and decided to shift her focus to the theatrical world of ballet. She was particularly astounded by the dancing of her future husband, Vaslav Nijinsky, as were all of his audiences. It became her life's goal to dance for the Ballets Russes and to somehow become close to Nijinsky.[1] For months she traveled on tour with the Ballets Russes and began to take ballet lessons from Enrico Cecchetti. She persuaded the group's director, Sergei Diaghilev, to let her join the corps de ballet, where she could finally be near her idol. Not realizing that he was in an intimate relationship with Diaghilev (who was seventeen years older than Nijinsky), she found it very difficult to even talk to Nijinsky alone. She eventually got close to them while on a boat headed for South America, while Diaghilev was far away. Days before their arrival to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nijinsky proposed to Romola and they eloped shortly after they arrived.[2]

The results of their marriage, on September 10, 1913, were eventually catastrophic for Nijinsky. Romola became pregnant right away, causing Nijinsky to miss performances due to sickening symptoms of couvade syndrome. This gave Diaghilev legal grounds to fire him, which he did via a telegram. Romola gave birth to Kyra Nijinsky in Vienna, Austria on June 18, 1914, ten days before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The newlywed couple and their infant daughter were put on house arrest in Emilia Markus's home in Budapest. Having spent two years as war prisoners in Hungary they managed to get permission to leave to New York with the aid of Diaghilev. They embarked on a tour of North America, followed by a tour to South America.[3]

Following Nijinsky's final three-year engagements with the Ballets Russes, which caused him a great deal of stress, the family settled in St Moritz, Switzerland until the end of the Great War. Two months after the armistice at the end of World War I, Nijinsky began to exhibit signs of a severe psychosis, for which he was committed to a series of Swiss mental institutions over the course of 30 years, including Burghölzli, the Bellevue Sanatorium in Kreuzlingen. He was originally diagnosed as schizophrenic by Eugen Bleuler in 1919. He was then treated by a number of psychiatrists with minimal results. In 1920, while her husband was still undergoing treatment, she gave birth to their second daughter Tamara Nijinsky. In 1934, Romola published a biography of Nijinsky in New York titled Nijinsky by Romola Nijinsky. In 1936, Romola heard about a new treatment for schizophrenia and contacted the founder of this treatment, Manfred Sakel, to have her husband treated. In 1938, Nijinsky began to receive regular insulin shock therapy (IST) over the course of a year, until the beginning of World War II.[1]

Romola spent most of World War II in Budapest with Nijinsky, whose illness was purported to be in partial remission from the IST.[4] However, out of concern for her husband's safety after the German invasion of Budapest, Romola took her husband to Sopron where they stayed until the end of the war. In 1946, Romola published an abridged version of Nijinsky's Diaries.[1] Nijinsky died on April 8, 1950 in London, England. In 1952 Romola published her second biography of Nijinsky called The Last Years of Nijinsky. Romola died in Paris on September 9, 1978.[1]

Cultural depictions[edit]

In plays[edit]

  • Nijinsky: God's Mad Clown (1986) by Glenn J. Blumstein.[5]

In film[edit]

  • The Dancer (planned film, 1970)

The screenplay was written by Edward Albee. The film was to be directed by Tony Richardson and star Rudolf Nureyev as Nijinsky, Claude Jade as Romola and Paul Scofield as Diaghilev, but producer Harry Saltzman canceled the project during pre-production.[6]

Directed by Herbert Ross, starring George de la Peña as Nijinsky, Leslie Browne as Romola, Alan Bates as Diaghilev and Jeremy Irons as Fokine. Romola Nijinsky had a writing credit for the film.[7]

  • The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky (2001)

Directed and written by Paul Cox. The screenplay was based directly on Nijinsky's diaries and read over related imagery. The subject matter included his work, his sickness, and his relationships with Diaghilev as well as his wife.[8]

  • Vaslav

Written in 2010 by Arthur Japin


  1. ^ a b c d e f Ostwald, Peter (1991) "Nijinsky A Leap into Madness"
  2. ^ Buckle, Richard (1971) "Nijinsky"
  3. ^ Nijinsky, Romola (1934) "Nijinsky by Romola Nijinsky"
  4. ^ Nijinsky, Romola (1952) "The Last Years of Nijinsky"
  5. ^ Glenn Blumstein (1988). Nijinsky, God's mad clown. S. French. ISBN 0-573-61924-7. 
  6. ^ Nijinsky: Unfinished Project (1970) at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ Nijinsky (1980) at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky (2001) at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]