Nica's Dream

Nica's Dream

The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
It's a misty night in 1950s New York. A silver Rolls-Royce screeches to a stop at the neon-lit doorway of a 52nd Street jazz club. Behind the wheel is a glamorous brunette, a chinchilla stole draped over her shoulder and a long cigarette holder clinched in her teeth. After taking a pull from a small silver flask, she glides past the bouncer into the murky depths of the Three Deuces. The Jazz Baroness has arrived.

Raised in fairy-tale splendor, Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild de Koenigswarter (known as "Nica") piloted her own plane across the English Channel, married a French baron, fought in the French Resistance, and had five children. Then she heard a recording of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight." Inspired by the liberating spirit of jazz, Nica left her family, moved to Manhattan, and began haunting the city's nightclubs.

The tabloids first splashed her name across the headlines after Charlie Parker died in her hotel suite--a scandal that cast a dark shadow over the rest of her life. She retreated from the public eye, but through her ongoing ministrations to Monk and dozens of other musicians she became a legend. Nearly a score of jazz compositions have been written in her honor, including two of the most beloved classics of the genre: Horace Silver's "Nica's Dream" and Monk's "Pannonica."

Nica's Dream traces the story of a fascinating woman across her thirty-year reign as the Jazz Baroness, but it also explores a transformative era in twentieth-century American culture. Based on interviews with musicians, family members, historians, and artists, David Kastin's probing biography unwraps the life of this enigmatic figure and evokes the vibrancy of New York during the birth of bebop, the first stirrings of the Beat Generation, and the advent of abstract expressionism.
Publisher: New York : W. W. Norton, c2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780393069402
Branch Call Number: 781.65092 K783K
Characteristics: p. cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Dec 05, 2011

As a long-time jazz fan I had always wanted to know more about the nefarious "jazz baroness" Nica de Koenigswater, who befriended many top jazz musicians in the 1950s to 1970s. All I'd heard were rumors about her involvement in the death of Charlie Parker, and inferences that she had sexual relationships with some of these musicians. This well researched and well written biography finally tells the truth! Born a Rothschild, Nica developed a passion for jazz and spent most of her life encouraging, supporting and literally saving numerous jazz musicians so that they could practice their art. Her long (non sexual) relationship with Thelonius Monk helped greatly in having him recognized as a musical genius. She welcomed jazz musicians for after hours jam sessions, delivered groceries to their needy families and bought instruments for musicians who couldn't afford one. Baroness Nica was as important a figure in jazz history as the musicians she befriended. This fascinating and often moving book tells why.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at APL

To Top