Obituary:Nin Ryan

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The Independent Online
Margaret Dorothy Kahn, patron of the arts: born Morristown, New Jersey 4 July 1901; married 1928 John Barry Ryan (died 1966; one son, one daughter); died New York City 26 January 1995.

Nin Ryan inherited her love of opera from her father, the banker and philanthropist Otto Kahn, and like him she became a generous benefactor and a member of administrative committees of the Metropolitan Opera of New York, and travelled great distances tocentres of music and festivals in America and Europe in pursuit of the best that they had to offer. She was a friend of some of the best singers, instrumentalists and conductors of our time.

Otto Kahn was a celebrated patron of the arts and the mainstay of the Metropolitan; his wife Adelaide was the daughter of the head of the Kuhn Loeb Bank of New York, which Otto joined after leaving his native Germany. Margaret, their younger daughter, always called Nin by all who knew her and many who did not, was born in 1901. Her sister, Maud, married a British soldier, General Sir John Marriott; Nin Kahn married a journalist, John Barry Ryan, the grandson of the Irish millionaire Thomas Fortune Ryan.The marriage was entirely blissful until the end of his days (he died in 1966).

Nin Ryan was gentle, modest, deeply civilised, with a sharp sense of humour, a sweet nature and immense charm, and a gift for friendship which seemed to have no limits. She loved the arts (but especially music) and had a very discriminating taste in painting - she was no collector but the works of art on her walls were of the first order. Her generosity to young artists was steady and concealed firmly. She read enormously; nothing of cultural value was alien to her.

She had three homes: in New York, Newport, Rhode Island, and London. Her love of England was deep and lifelong. She provided generous hospitality, sometimes for days on end, to British friends - political, artistic or simply men and women whom she liked or respected, in whose lives and relationships she took an inexhaustible interest. She was very family-minded and adored her children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren.

She was, in the best sense of the word, sociable, open to new friends and new experiences. The large and delightful parties she gave in her London flat became annual reunions of those in whose company she took pleasure; she floated gently and gracefully among her guests - there was no need for introductions - and her omnivorous curiosity about their lives added to their gaiety and happiness.

She was an indefatigable traveller. She occasionally went in company but she did not need it - her interest in the beauties of art and nature, in whatever was remarkable, in buildings, streets, scenery, forms of life, was insatiable, and she happily wentabout alone and spent days by herself. She was well-informed about the goals of her travels - meetings with friends, of course, gave her particular pleasure.

Nin Ryan was amusing and amused, interested and interesting and surrounded by the love of friends during her entire long life. She made her world a much happier place than she found it.

Isaiah Berlin

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