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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 507

Correspondence concerning Waslaw Nijinsky's medical condition


Letters and telegrams of Romola Nijinsky and other family members to various physicians, and correspondence between physicians concerning Waslaw Nijinsky's medical condition. Also includes correspondence regarding his stay and treatment at the Bellevue Sanatorium in Kreuzlingen (Switzerland).


  • Creation: 1918-1939

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in German, French, and English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to the finding aid describing this collection are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.


.4 linear feet (1 box)

Correspondence of Romola Nijinsky and others with various physicians and psychiatrists who beginning in 1918 consulted and treated Waslaw Nijinsky.

Correspondents include:

  1. Dr. Hans Curt Frenkel-Tissot, the first physician Romola NIjinsky consulted, who arranged psychoanalytical sessions for Nijinsky.
  2. Dr.Ludwig Binswanger, a famous psychoanalyst and a close friend of Sigmund Freud, under whose care Nijinsky spent almost twenty years at the Bellevue Sanatorium.
  3. Dr. Marta Wenger, a female therapist assigned to Nijinsky for three years at the Bellevue Sanatorium.
  4. Dr. Otto Binswanger, uncle of Ludwig Binswanger, professor of psychiatry in Germany.
  5. Dr. Böckli, who held power of attorney for Nijinsky.
  6. Firmin Deschenaux, a nurse assigned to Nijinsky at the Bellevue Sanatorium.
  7. Julie Mai, a musical teacher who was engaged to try to cure Nijinsky through musical lessons.
  8. Oscar Párdány, second husband of Romola Nijinsky's mother.
  9. Tessa (Tereza) de Pulszky, Romola's sister.
  10. Kyra Nijinsky, Romola's and Waslaw's eldest daughter.
  11. Igor Markevitch, Kyra Nijinsky's husband.

Biographical / Historical

Waslaw Nijinsky (1890-1950) was the legendary Russian dancer and choreographer of Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. In 1913 he married Hungarian countess Romola de Pulszky (1891-1978). The marriage enraged Diaghilev who was not only Nijinsky's patron, but also his lover. Diaghilev dismissed Nijinsky from the company. They later reconciled, but Nijinsky returned to Ballets Russes only briefly in 1916. At that time he was already showing signs of mental disturbance which later developed into mental illness. In 1919 he suffered a severe mental breakdown and had to be institutionalized. He was placed under care of Dr. Ludwig Binswanger, director of Bellevue Sanatorium in Kreuzlingen (Switzerland) where he remained, with some interruptions, from 1919 to 1938. Romola Nijinsky and Dr. Binswanger arranged for many other famous physicians and psychiatrists to treat Nijinsky, but he was never cured, spending the rest of his life in asylums and psychiatric hospitals. His diagnosis ranged from dementia to schizophrenia.


Arranged chronologically.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

2005MT-71. Purchased from Golden Legend Inc. with Timothy S. Mayer Fund, Billy Rose Theatre Fund, Parmenia Migel Ekstrom Memorial Fund and other funds; received 2006 April.

Related Materials

For additional material see: Miscellaneous Manuscripts and Photographs Relating to Nijinsky's Medical Treatment at Bellevue Sanatorium at the New York Public Library. Dance Division.

Processing Information

Processed by: Irina Klyagin

Correspondence concerning Waslaw Nijinsky's medical condition, 1918-1939: Guide.
Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

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