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Siergiej Siergiejewicz Muchanow (Stara Wołogda, 1833 – 29 May 1897, Przemęczany, near Miechowa) was a Russian official, an officer in the Special Corps of Gendarmes, director of the Warsaw Theatre Directorate and second husband of the Polish pianist Maria Kalergis.

Life

He was the son of Sergiej Aleksandrowicz Muchanow, governor of Kharkiv, and Minadora Countess von Sievers. Serving in the military from his youth, he found himself in Warsaw in 1861, being appointed adjutant general to Alexander von Lüders and becoming a Gendarme lieutenant in July 1862 (in the latter of which roles he served as chief of police in Warsaw and produced a list of 12,000 Polish young men for imperial Russian impressment). After the January Uprising he fought as adjutant alongside the next governor Constantine Nikolaevich. He resigned as police chief in March 1863.

Almost from the very beginning of his stay in Warsaw Muchanow had belonged to the aristocratic artistic salons, particularly that of the pianist Maria Kalergis (nee Nesselrode). Maria's estranged first husband died in 1863 – 10 years younger than her, and hoping to raise his social position by marrying her, Muchanow proposed and was accepted. The wedding took place in Baden-Baden on 30 September 1863. Muchanow's resignation of his career to marry her and the resulting financial strains, however, caused Maria to have a nervous breakdown and it was only some time later that she was able to go to Saint Petersburg to obtain his appointment as administrator of imperial palaces in the Kingdom of Poland and President of the Warsaw Theatre Directorate. Also supported by governor Fiodor Berg in this request, Muchanow received these posts on 27 April 1868. He and his wife then brought about a rise in theatrical life in Warsaw - with the aid of the Directorate's administrative directors Mikołaja Bojanowskiego and Bogumiła Folanda, Muchanow was able to give the city's theatres settled financing systems and find an additional income source in the form of tax concessions in the gardens around the theatres. He also managed to overhaul the city's theatre buildings and oversee the opening of the Teatru Letniego (Summer Theatre).

In these efforts, Muchanow was able to count on the support of governor Berg (convinced to support the theatres by Maria) as well as major Polish cultural figures such as Stanisława Moniuszki, Jan Chęciński, Aleksander Narcyz Przezdziecki, Józef Kenig and Władysław Bogusławski. He invited Helena Modrzejewska to Warsaw, granting her various privileges, such as selection of the repertoire, and she appeared onstage there in Shakespeare, Słowackiego, Schiller and Fredry. The operatic repertoire, swelled by songs by Moniuszki, also prospered. Muchanow ensured the creation of a team of actors and Modrzejewska and actors already well-known to Warsaw audiences such as Alojzego Żółkowskiego, Jana Królikowskiego, Wiktoryny Bakałowiczowej, Salomei Palińskiej and Aleksandry Rakiewiczowej were joined by newcomers such as Romana Popiel, Wincenty Rapacki, Bolesław Leszczyński, Marian Prażmowski and Edward Wolski - the period became known as "the age of stars".

Muchanow's success declined from 1874 with the death of Maria on 22 June and of Jan Chęciński on 30 December. Modrzejewska thus lost her protectoress and, getting entangled in problems with the censors and other company members, she soon left for the United States. Rapacki Bogusławski and Emil Deryng could not fill Modrzejewska's role as head of the company, nor could Deryng's daughter Maria. Muchanow made a last attempt at glory by making Jan Tatarkiewicz director in 1878 and taking on actors such as Jadwiga Czaki, Adolfina Zimajer, Józef Kotarbiński and Honorata Leszczyńska (daughter of Wincenty Rapacki), but neither measure had great success and Muchanow began putting on little theater and opera, focusing instead on the ballet company. He retired from his post as head of the directorate on 12 June 1880 and soon moved to the countryside, in 1882 marrying Waleria Pignan. Pignan had made her debut in September 1869 as a student of the Warsaw ballet school, had performed in several well-known productions of the 1870s, and had become known as one of the Directorate's most talented dancers before leaving the stage to marry Muchanow.

Sources

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