Winter workshops by Alan FrancisJanuary-February, 2018
Olga Arkadievna de Hartmann(1885– 1979) nee Olga de Schumacher, was born on 28 August 1885 in St Petersburg into a family of German ancestry, her father being a high government official. Olga’s parents were Lutheran, but they converted to Russian Orthodoxy, in order not to be separated from their children, who were given an Orthodox upbringing.
Olga met Thomas de Hartmann during a concert of the latter’s music. After getting married to de Hartmann, Olga participated in all of her husband’s activities. They became friends with composer, Sergei Taneyev, who advised Olga de Hartmann to take singing lessons from B. Curelli in Italy, which she did, moving from Munich to Naples with Thomas for several months. She sang a leading part in the production of Taneyev’s opera trilogy Oresteia in Moscow. She took vocal lessons from singer Zoë Lody, and sang the part of Violetta in La Traviata in a benefit performance of the Imperial Opera.
When Olga and her husband were living in Munich, they began to be interested in esotericism and to read Blavatsky. Upon their return to St. Petersburg they continued their search for spiritual groups. During World War I when Thomas was on military duty at Tsarskoye Selo, Olga was organizing and building a school for children of active military reservists. At that time they met with Gurdjieff and became his pupils. They followed him during his trip across the Caucasus Mountains in 1918, his stay in Tbilisi, and his subsequent emigration via Constantinople to Paris, and remained his pupils until his death in 1949.
Olga was Gurdjieff’s personal secretary for many years, and a co-author, together with Thomas, of the book “Our Life with Mr. Gurdjieff”. After her husband’s death in 1956 she continued her participation in enhancing Gudjieff’s tradition in America, and also promoted performances of her husband’s works. She collected many of the texts of Gurdjieff’s lectures, which were published as the book “Views from the Real World”. In later years she moved to Nambe, near Santa Fe in New Mexico, where she died in 1979.