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Elssler, Fanny

ELSSLER, FANNY (1810-1884), Austrian dancer, was born in Vienna on the 23rd of June 1810. From her earliest years she was trained for the ballet, and made her appearance at the Kärntner-Thor theatre in Vienna before she was seven. She almost invariably danced with her sister Theresa, who was two years her senior; and, after some years' experience together in Vienna, the two went in 1827 to Naples. Their success there - to which Fanny contributed more largely than her sister, who used to efface herself in order to heighten the effect of Fanny's more brilliant powers - led to an engagement in Berlin in 1830. This was the beginning of a series of triumphs for Fanny's personal beauty and skill in dancing. After captivating all hearts in Berlin and Vienna, and inspiring the aged statesman Friedrich von Gentz (q.v.) with a remarkable passion, she paid a visit to London, where she received much kindness at the hands of Mr and Mrs Grote, who practically adopted the little girl who was born three months after the mother's arrival in England. In September 1834 Fanny Elssler appeared at the Opera in Paris, a step to which she looked forward with much misgiving on account of Taglioni's supremacy on that stage. The result, however, was another triumph for her, and the temporary eclipse of Taglioni, who, although the finer artist of the two, could not for the moment compete with the newcomer's personal fascination. It was conspicuously in her performance of the Spanish cachuca that Fanny Elssler outshone all rivals. In 1840 she sailed with her sister for New York, and after two years' unmixed success they returned to Europe, where during the following five years Fanny appeared in Germany, Austria, France, England and Russia. In 1845, having amassed a fortune, she retired from the stage and settled near Hamburg. A few years later her sister Theresa contracted a morganatic marriage with Prince Adalbert of Prussia, and was ennobled under the title of Baroness von Barnim. Fanny Elssler died at Vienna on the 27th of November 1884. Theresa was left a widow in 1873, and died on the 19th of November 1878.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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