Elisabeth Huselius-Wickter (1901−1965)

Elisabeth Anna Huselius-Wickter, born on 5 January 1901 in Trollhättan and deceased on 26 October 1965 in Malmö, was a harpist and composer. She graduated as an organist from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm in 1923, after which she continued studies in counterpoint and harp until 1932. In 1933 she was hired as a harpist by the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and worked there until her death. She composed circa one hundred works in smaller formats, including songs and solo pieces for harp and piano, in addition to several orchestral works.

Life

Early life and education

No details regarding Elisabeth Huselius’ upbringing had been discovered other than that she was born in Trollhättan on 5 January 1901. Documents at the Kungliga Musikkonservatoriet (the Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm) reveal that she applied unsuccessfully to the organ class of 1916−17. She was then identified as a ‘trainee’, implying that although she was not a music conservatory student herself, she took lessons from another student at the school. Not until the spring semester of 1922 was she accepted into the organ program. She completed her organist exam with honours in organ and piano in the autumn of 1923.

Elisabeth Huselius composed music already in her early teens, including some thirty works from 1915−22 which are still preserved. These early works include songs for solo voice and piano, small solo piano pieces and several compositions for violin and piano.

1923−25 Elisabeth Huselius continued at the conservatory with studies in counterpoint and then chose to learn a new instrument − the harp. She took several private lessons, and by the spring term of 1927 she was accepted as a harp student to the conservatory. She continued to study there until 1932. During these years she also studied to be a piano tuner.

Harpist in the Malmö Symphony Orchestra

In 1933 Elisabeth Huselius was hired as a harpist by the Malmö Konserhusstiftelsens symfoniorkester (Malmö Symphony Orchestra) and remained there until her death in 1965. She was also employed by the Malmö Stadsteaters orkester (Malmö City Theatre orchestra). Her only other documented engagements are performances broadcast on Swedish radio from Malmö in 1936 and 1937, in which she was featured playing her own solo works and accompanying her own songs. Judging by notes on several of her compositions, she performed again as a soloist and accompanist on several radio programs in 1938 and 1939.

In the late 1930’s, Elisabeth Huselius married the blind bookbinder Hilding Wickter. The couple was childless. During this time she was probably engaged in activities with the Rosicrucian Order in Malmö, performing her own works. Proof of the latter has been based on indirect evidence in several of her compositions from the 1940’s and 1950’s, in addition to a brief funeral announcement following her death.

Following the death of Hilding Wickter in 1983, all of Elisabeth Huselius-Wickter’s compositions (autographs) were left to the Statens musikbibliotek (known today as the Musik- och teaterbibliotek – the Music and Theatre Library of Sweden). In all likelihood, all personal information in the collection was culled prior to its being turned over to the Library.

Elisabeth Huselius-Wickter’s list of works includes several orchestral works, but none of these have been performed by the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. Musicians who were colleagues with her during the 1950’s and 1960’s were amazed when they heard that she had composed nearly a hundred works. They remember her as a very reserved person.

Works

Circa one hundred works composed by Elisabeth Huselius-Wickter are extant today. She composed almost half of all her works before she turned 30. She was also very productive during the 1930’s, composing at least twenty works, but her pace slowed down after this. Only a few pieces which were intended for a speaker accompanied by harp, likely intended for performance with the Rosicrucian Order, came about during the 1950’s. During her final years, before passing away in 1965, she wrote only a single new work for harp in addition to reworking several of her early works for harp and piano.

The largest group of works − approximately 30 – consists of compositions for voice and piano or harp. Furthermore there are twenty piano pieces, most of which were composed prior to 1926, when she began to play the harp. Otherwise her list of works includes 13 pieces for solo harp, eight pieces for harp and spoken word, and two works for small orchestra. Her five works for voice and orchestra were most likely created during the 1930’s. Her piece I ensamhet och tystnad (lyricist unknown) for voice, harp, violin and cello was composed in 1944. In this work, the two string parts are clearly written for amateur musicians, suggesting that it was intended for a less prestigious occasion, possibly a performance for the Rosicrucian Order.

The works Elisabeth Huselius-Wickter composed after 1925 all testify to good craftsmanship mastered partly as a result of her counterpoint studies. Well-constructed but stylistically traditional, these pieces offer few challenging harmonies and forms. Her choice of lyricists include the likes of poets Gustaf Fröding, Erik Axel Karlfeldt, Karin Boye and Östen Sjöstrand. Her compositions for harp are characterised by a clear understanding of the musical possibilities offered by the instrument.

Boel Lindberg © 2016
Trans. Thalia Thunander

Bibliography

Radiolyssnaren, 1936:41, p. 31 and 1937:31, p. 18.
Sydsvenska Dagbladet Snällposten 28/10, 29/10 and 3/11 1965: obituary, death notice and funeral.

Sources

Musik- och teaterbiblioteket: Elisabeth Huslius-Wickter: Autographs. Gift 1983/134. Works list compiled July 1991 by Anna-Lena Holm.

Summary list of works

Orchestral Works (Meditation, Vid havsstranden), piano works, works for harp, songs (with piano, harp or orchestra), choral works, spoken word pieces.

Collected works

For a complete works list see http://musikverket.se/musikochteaterbiblioteket/arkivregistret/elisabeth-huselius-wickter-1901-1965/.

Orchestra
Meditation for small orchestra, 1929.
Vid havsstranden, n.d.

Vocal works with orchestra
Drivsnö (‘Flyg, drivsnö’, B. Gripenberg), solo song with orchestra, 1932.
Det är vår (‘Det susar i knoppande alar’, O. Thunman), solo voice with orchestra, 1936.
Naturens språk (‘Hör du ej friden’, H. H-g Widerström), soprano, orchestra, comp. 1930, instr. 1936.
Ödemarksfärd (‘Den öde vidden’, G. Åström), soprano, orchestra, n.d.
Sjung dina visor, skymning (A. Nordgren), solo voice with orchestra, n.d.

Chamber music
I ensamhet och tystnad (‘Under kvällens tysta timme’, An.), for voice, harp, violin and cello, 1944.

Piano
Fridhällstoner, 1921.
En vinterdröm, 1921.
En Mälaridyll, 1921.
Prelude for piano, 1922.
Ballad, 1925.
Böljesång, 1925.
En dröm, 1926.
Introitus. Musical portrait for piano. Dedicated ‘till lillebror Georg [unreadable name]’, 1929.

Harpa  
Till mamma på födelsedagen, 1926.
Vid havsstranden, 1926.
Hélène, for harp or piano, 1929.
Aubade, 1933. [Included in the collection Six compositions for harp.]
Skymningslegend, 1933. [Included in the collection Six compositions for harp.]
En gåta, 1938. [Included in the collection Six compositions for harp.]
Gasellen, 1939. [Included in the collection Six compositions for harp.]
Tonmålning, 1940. [Included in the collection Six compositions for harp.]
Vision, 1930. [Included in the collection Six compositions for harp.]
Majsång, 1964.
Solglitter, 1964. [Orig. comp. 1920 for piano.]
Tankar efter predikan, 1964. [Orig. comp. 1920 for organ (?).]
Julpotpourri, n.d.

One voice and piano
Klocktoner (‘Klockorna klämta dova’, H. Cederblad), 1921.
Blommande, röda ljung (An.), for one voice with harp or piano, 1928.
Stillhet (An.), 1929.
Din stämma, (C. Snoilsky), 1934.
I fjällgränsen II (‘Skogen spelar’, B. Bergman), for one voice with harp or piano, 1936.
Månsken på strömmen (‘Som klippt i sotat papper’, B. Bergman), for one voice with harp or piano, 1936.
Sommarvisa (‘Det lyser och det glittrar’, E. Björklund), 1939. Dedicated to the singer Signe Wernhagen.
Lärkor och trastar (‘Syster ditt skratt’, O. Thunman). Dedicated to the singer and friend Elisabet Maull on her birthday in 1940.
Stråla Betlehemsstjärna (‘Betlehemsstjärna stråla och brinn’, Hélène), 1944.

One voice and harp
Davids 23:e psalm (‘Herren är min herde’), 1928.
Drivsnö (‘Flyg, drivsnö’, B. Gripenberg), 1932.
Klocksången (‘Susande sommarvindar’, Y. Lindblom), 1932.
Mana katras dienas lungsana (J varn), 1932.
Sjung dina visor, skymning (A. Nordgren), 1936.
Den drömmande systern (‘Vinden spelar’, E.A. Karlfeldt), n.d.
Paradisets timma (‘När människorna sova’, V. von Heidenstam), n.d.

One voice, choir and harp/piano
Kristi brud (‘Säg vem är hon’, An.), 1928.
Pilgrimen (‘Du ilande pilgrim’, An.), n.d.

Choir
Julklockorna (‘Det klang över’, Hélène), for mixed choir and piano, 1930.
Four choral songs, for mixed choir a cappella (?), n.d. 1. Det är vår (‘Det susar i knoppande alar’, O. Thunman), 2. Hymn (‘Dag står klar’, Z. Topelius), 3. Inför den korsfäste (‘O, du som bar’, E.N. Söderberg), 4. Jubel (‘Nu glittrar vikens vågor’, E.K).

Declamation, harp/piano/organ
Saul och David (‘Och David satte sig’, G. Fröding), for declamation and harp or piano, 1930.
Mig törstar (‘Fåfängt, fåfängt!’, P. Wikner), melodrama with harp, 1933.
En spelmans jordafärd (D. Andersson), for declamation and harp, 1934.
Two poems by Karin Boye, for declamation and harp, 1947. 1. Jul 1939 (‘När julnatten tätnar’), 2. Många röster talar.
Allting rör sig, melodrama (J. Adolphson), for declamation and harp, 1953.
Jag minns min väg, deklamatorium (Ö. Sjöstrand ur Mellan midnatt och gryning), for declamation and harp, 1954.
Intet är som väntans tider (E. A. Karlfeldt), for declamation and harp, n.d.
Meningslöst blev mig, melodrama (R. Münter), for organ, harp and organ, n.d.


Works by Elisabeth Huselius-Wickter

There are no works by the composer registered