Lovisa Christina Charlotta (Lotten) af Edholm was born on 18 April 1839 in Örebro and died on 12 July 1930 in Stockholm. She was the daughter of cavalry captain Georg Friedrich von Heijne-Lillienberg and Juliana (Julie) Charlotta Silfverstolpe. Her marriage to Edward af Edholm, the personal physician to King Charles XV, brought her into the royal court's innermost circles. She composed piano pieces for use within this private society.
Lotten af Edholm (née von Heijne) grew up on the Edeby estate, Helgarö parish in the region of Södermandland west of Stockholm. In the Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (Swedish biographical encyclopaedia) she is described as a nimble, musical, somewhat impish and socially enterprising lady. Her autobiography published in 1919 reveals that she had a talent for and was educated in dance, piano, sewing, language, arithmetic and history, by both her mother and a governess. Between 1855 and 1960 Hermann Berens (the elder) came to Edeby periodically to give her piano lessons and, according to her memoires, she became his favourite student. In 1859 and 1861 she performed in public concerts in the town of Strängnäs.
In1865 Lotten von Heijne came to the royal court in Stockholm. On 26 October 1867 she married Dr Edward Mårten af Edholm (1831−1913). The marriage meant that she socialised within the court’s inner circles for the rest of her days and lived a full life, which she portrayed in her memoires. Between 1865 and 1867 she was a maid of honour to the Queen Mother Josefina and during the following years she also served Princess Eugénie as well as Princess Teresia (1836−1914) who was married to Prince August − they became her nearest friends. These friendships would last for the rest of her life. Lotten af Edholm played music together with the queen mother and the two princesses and joined in the planning of the musical soirees of the court, also taking part as an accompanist and soloist at the piano. They sang duets, quartets and played à quatre mains. As an active member of the court’s inner circles she participated in all the major celebrations as well as attending concerts and the theatre.
Lotten af Edholm’s creativity distinguished itself in several ways. As early as 1865, along with the queen mother and others, she engaged herself in the work of the Swedish Red Cross. During the following years she was very active − between 1865 and 1906 she was president of the Red Cross and thereafter, until 1918, she was president of the organisation’s nursing school. In 1876 she started a private class in food preparation − called ‘cooking course’ − at her home on the island of Kungsholmen in Stockholm. The course was intended for a small circle of women from society’s upper strata and was attended by Queen Mother Josefina and Crown Princess Victoria as well as Prince Oscar and Princess Eugénie. In 1886 and for several years after, the course was held at the Arvfurstens palats (the Hereditary Prince’s Palace) in central Stockholm. Lotten af Edholm also started courses in porcelain painting and sewing and was active in the society Handarbetets vänner (friends of handwork). Her marriage to Edvard af Edholm meant that the family spent their summers at various palaces in the vicinity of Stockholm. Up until the death of Princess Teresia in 1914 Lotten af Edholm continued to participate regularly in the royal court’s activities.
In her memoir, penned during her later years, Lotten af Edholm wrote that music had given her pleasure her whole life and that at all the parties, music was a central part of social life. She was not educated in composition and it seems that she composed mainly during the 1860s and then after 1910. Using her autobiography, one can date the works that are preserved. ‘Aftonklockan’ was written in 1866, ‘Aftonstämning’ before 1910, while ‘Automobilgalopp’ was composed in the summer of 1910. One composition that was not preserved was ‘Suckarnas mélodie’, written around 1915 and dedicated to her friend, Ottoline de Maré. The two short pieces in ‘Tankar och Toner’ were composed in honour of Lotten’s sister-in-law who died in 1923.
Lotten af Edholm’s piano pieces show the influences of music life within the private society of the court. ‘Aftonklockan’, ‘Aftonstämning’ and ‘Automobilgalopp’ are part of a hand-written collection of compositions created around the social life of Princess Teresia. ‘Automobilgalopp’ is dedicated to Teresia and includes an explanatory letter in the notes. The princess had asked Lotten af Edholm to look for a composition with the title ‘Automobilgalopp’, however, when she did not find one, Lotten wrote one herself. This piece is very typical of Lotten af Edholm’s style. It begins with several bars of tremolo and then the gallop takes off. The composition contains four contrasting sections, which are all repeated, and ends with an arrangement of Carl Michael Bellman’s ‘Fjäriln vingad syns på Haga’ − the final bars are an up and down glissando from A3 up to A7. ‘Aftonklockan’ and ‘Mazurka’ contain several sections that are contrasted with one another in an effective manner and in a style that belongs to popular music from the turn of the century. The two pieces in ‘Tankar och Toner’ are very short and can mainly be describes as thoughtful memories of her friend.
Eva Öhrström © 2015
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson
Publications by the composer
Några tankar under årets högtidsdagar upptecknade av en 70-åring, Stockholm, 1910.
Från barndom till ålderdom. Minnesteckning av Lotten af Edholm f. von Heijne, Stockholm, 1919.
Glada minnen i kökets verld, Stockholm, 1929
Erhardt, Richard: 'Edward Mårten Edholm', in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 12, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1949.
Hvar 8 Dag, no. 7 1905−06, p. 20.
Lundström, Nils Styrbjörn: Svenska kvinnor i offentlig verksamhet: porträtt och biografier, Uppsala, 1924.
Öhrström, Eva: Borgerliga kvinnors musicerande i 1800-talets Sverige, diss., Gothenburg University, 1987.
Summary list of works
Aftonklockan for piano. Ungdomsminne, 1866.
Aftonstämning, before 1910.
Automobilgalopp, dedicated to the Dutchess of Dalarna, 1910. [The three above mentioned compositions exist in a book with compositions by Lotten Edholm and HRH the Dutchess of Dalarna (Teresia).]
Mazurka for piano by Lotten Edholm.
Tankar och toner sammanväfda till ett Minne af den blida, ädla, trofasta, varmt älskade och saknade Wännen Erlin von Heijne Lillienberg, 1923. 1. Largo, 2. Lofsång.