Nobles’ nest. Property of earls Ploteni in Velyki Lazy saw Stradivari violin, family betrayal and Soviet tyranny

Tatiana Literati, "Stary Zamok"  6 May 2012 11:14  70011380 011716
Nobles’ nest

In Velyki Lazy the family of graphs Ploteni is widely known, but it is not so easy to find reliable data on the life of the landlords. The legends about the old Count Ferdinand, also called Nandor by Hungarians, his English wife, Eugenia, and their children, who were scattered around the world by fate, are passed from generation to generation. The villagers wonder: half a century ago, no one was interested in the fate and history of the old palace, and in recent years, there has been no escape from curious tourists, historians, ethnographers and journalists. They complain that many people, having failed to properly study Ploteni’s family ties, are now engaged in myth-making, and as a result the story of the count's family has acquired rumors, legends and even scandals.

One of them is the myth that the famous composer Ferenz Liszt once visited Ploteni’s palace, although he died in 1886, while the palace was built 10 years later - in 1896. However, the plaque with an inscription has been installed on the facade of the building, where last year (to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth) his bust was set. Actually, we cannot say unequivocally that Ferenz Liszt did not come to this area because he might have visited Ferdinand Ploteni’s parents, who lived in Velyki Lazy. Yet the statement that he had visited this particular house sounds ridiculous.

Nobles’ nest (Ploteni_3)

The ambiguity in the history of Ferdinand Johann Ploteni begins at the time of his birth. Some sources claim that he was born in Velyki Lazy, where his father Johann Ploteni and mother Emily Winter moved, probably, from Mukachevo because of his gather’s job (he was a mine foreman.) According to another version, Ferdinand was born in the town on the bank of Latorica. The date in both cases coincides - August 29, 1844. It is also known that he had no title of nobility by birth, having received it much later - for his merits.

Ferdinand had a brilliant musical talent and played the violin beautifully. It is still not known where he received his initial musical education, but a legend remained that during a visit of Transcarpathia in 1862 a world-famous violinist Ede Remni noticed a skillful 18-year-old boy and made him his disciple. Together with Remni Ferdinand Ploteni travelled all over Europ as an accompanist, where he earned considerable recognition and befriended a prominent Hungarian composer and pianist Ferenz Liszt.
There is the evidence that the young Ferdinand Ploteni even played with Liszt at concerts and musical evenings, which shows that the talent of our countryman was recognized. Beginning from 1867 Ferdinand was already acting on his own, and in 1887 he was invited to become a first violinist at the Hungarian National Theatre. Around the same time he gets a title of nobility and becomes a count. Then for a long time he lives in France and, not being engaged in active musical activities, performs only for narrow circles.

After attempting to steal a Stradivarius violin the Count started a police office in Velyki Lazy

All Plotenis, without exception, were playing music. One legend claims that the head of the family played the rare Stradivarius violin, but traces of it later disappeared. The earl did have what to save and the proof of this is evidenced by the fact that after an unsuccessful attempt to steal a priceless rarity, he founded the police station in Velyki Lazy, where he had several paid  gendarmes, ready to run to the estate at his first order.

Nobles’ nest (Ploteni_2)

The Countess would bring oranges to sick maids

In general, peasants of neighboring villages loved landlords Ploteni. The factory, founded by Ferdinand, gave them jobs, and the owners themselves were very good and responsive people. The counts’ cook’s granddaughter, the researcher of this family’s history, a local teacher Maria Glivka told "Zamok" that one day her grandmother was recalling that when she, being young, got sick with tuberculosis, the old countess kept visiting her constantly, without fear of infection. And once she even brought big oranges for the cook, which in those days were something unbelievable for peasants.

They say that Ferdinand started the tradition which after his death was supported for some time by his son William. When in their villages a young couple married, the counts used to give them initial capital, as well as wedding wine and slivovitsa.


Nobles’ nest (Ploteni_1)

Count William, being deprived of the palace, lived in the house of his former servant

Ferdinand Ploteni’s sons - William and Janosh (many confuse and think they were one person) also had an extraordinary and very tragic fate. It is said that the daughters of Ferdinand and Eugene Ploteni left the estate very soon, having left to Europe for studying, and would come to the palace only on holidays. The elder son Janosh, according to unconfirmed reports was a pilot, and is said that he even once flew under the Great (now pedestrian) bridge in Uzhgorod to show his skills.
Old people in Velyki Lazy are telling that once Janosh suddenly came to the estate and found his wife with his younger brother William. Janosh’s wife left him and stayed in Velyki Lazy with William.
Almost nothing is known about the end of Janosh’s life. According to some sources, he crashed in a plane in the World War I, others say he died prematurely for some other reason, but in the village there is still a grave of Janosh Ploteni with a tomb, though unfortunately it is impossible to read anything from it.

Nobles’ nest (Ploteni_4)

As to William, there is a legend connected with either the release or the occupation of the village by the Soviet army. After his lover, former Janosh’s wife, deceived him, robbed and escaped with an officer, William gave away all his possessions from the palace and started living in the house of his former servant. There is a legend that during the occupation, when the soldiers had already strapped William to the pine, growing behind the palace, with the intent to shoot him, the peasants who had gathered near the building, stood up for their landlord and did not let them either kill or take him to the camps.
People say that William took his fate calmly enough. He did not live in poverty, since he was repairing clocks and other appliances for money. But by the end of his days he lived in a small room of an old house, having neither wife nor children. William died around the beginning of the 1960s and was buried in Velyki Lazy.

Now the estate, just as the counts desired, is developing children's talents
Ploteni’s Palace over the years has served as a premise for FAP, a school, summer camps for children, a village council and what not, it wasn’t renovated until 2004. It was also equipped by the regional center of Uzhgorod as the house for children's art. Outwardly, it is still a building with perfectly preserved forged and molded fragments. But inside, the palace has become a typical example of the Soviet era with its tasteless paint on the walls, the so-called "bibs" at the bottom.
We hope that historians will continue collecting and supplementing information on the entire Plotini’s family, gradually clearing it from the myths that have intertwined over the years with the names of the nobility of Velyki Lazy.


Nobles’ nest (Ploteni_6)

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