Hedda Wrangel (1792−1833)

Hedda Wrangel (neé Lewenhaupt) was born on 11 December 1792 on Forstena estate near Vänersborg and died on 24 July 1833 on Ovesholm estate near Kristianstad. She was a baroness and composer, known for her beauty and for her singing. Three of her songs written to texts by Esaias Tegnér are extant.

Life

Background and marriage

Anna Hedvig (Hedda) Lewenhaupt was the daughter of the Colonel Count Gustaf Julius Lewenhaupt and the Baroness Anna Helena Alströmer. Anna died two days after giving birth to Hedda who was then raised by her aunt, the Countess Margareta Cronstedt at Karlberg’s Castle in Stockholm. She therefore had a solid upbringing. Margareta Cronstedt was an accomplished pianist and host of social salons. Hedda played piano, sang, and both read and spoke French. Hedda Lewenhaupt was described by author Malla Silfverstolpe as ‘beautiful as a rose with healthy colouring and genius expressed through her large, dark blue eyes, a broad forehead shaded by dark brown curls, a fine high nose, her mouth, open to jest and merriment, showed pearl-white teeth and the full figure said vitality and joy’. She entertained high society with her singing in the aristocratic salons of Stockholm.

On 11 April 1810 Hedda Lewenhaupt wed överstekammarjunkaren (Head Groom of the Chamber) and Baron Henning Gustaf Wrangel af Adinal (1780−1833) at Karlberg’s Castle. After they married, the Wrangels travelled to the continent and Malla Silfverstolpe’s memoirs reveal that before 1830 Hedda Wrangel moved in, among others, Paris circles. The couple had no children.

A life within high society

Hedda Wrangel is said to have been a ‘dissolute social beauty’. She was beautiful and talented but an ‘unenlightened society woman’ who, according to literature scholar Carina Burman, had been around in the salons of Europe and indulged in considerable excesses. Burman mentions that it was all about wine, love and song.

In April 1827 Esaias Tegnér met Hedda Wrangel at a ‘drinking party’.  He wrote to C.G. von Brinkman: ‘A beautiful head, a lively soul, but a figure to – drown in, and I am a bit afraid of the lake’. A few months earlier he had written a poem to her:

When his eye falls on the profile –
the artist then, wants only to study it –
exclaim gladly: it is the style of antiquity,
the features belong to Greece.

When she sings, ach, then no one breathes,
gossip’s own tongue lies still;
only at the end it is whispered in the ring:
the voice belongs to Italy.

When she speaks, it is difficult to answer,
Hearing is the only thing one wants.
Such liveliness, one believes, belongs only
to the Seine’s happy senses

Has then Scandinavia’s daughter, many ask,
everything from the south, nothing from the fatherland?
Yes, with pride the Swedish song responds,
Her heart is Swedish still.

One can conclude that Hedda Wrangel’s three songs, dedicated to Esaias Tegnér, had already come into the poet’s hands and that the poem is Tegner’s way of saying thank you.

Friend of Fredrika Bremer

In the winter of 1832 Fredrika Bremer visited her sister Charlotte Quiding in Kristianstad and met Hedda Wrangel, who spent time in in the town but lived on the Ovesholm estate southwest of Kristianstad. The women met at the Quiding couple’s home and amused themselves by drinking Bischoff (a popular wine drink), reading letters out loud, admiring beautiful people and listening to Hedda Wrangel’s ‘Syrénsång’. Hedda Wrangel celebrated triumphs in social life with her beautiful singing voice and her joyful, lively manner.

From the autumn of 1832 until Hedda Wrangel’s death in the summer of 1833, Fredrika Bremer and Hedda Wrangel’s friendship intensified. During Hedda’s last summer at Ovesholm, Fredrika watched over her friend at night and Burman writes that a sisterly love blossomed between them.

Hedda Wrangel’s marriage was stormy. Henning Wrangel was ‘notorious for his athletic handsomeness and his hot-headed temperament’; others have called him ‘thoughtlessly brutal’. It is safe to say that Hedda’s musicality was the reason for the beautiful round music room with cupolas and the adornments at the Sperlingsholm estate in the region of Halland that Henning Wrangel had built.

Works

Hedda Wrangel’s three published songs are all simple songs composed in the same style as those published in Skalde-Stycken satte i Musik (Poetic pieces set to music) that came out during 1794−1823.Frithiofs Frieri’ is a short song in andante tempo, ‘Kung Ring’ is similarly a very short song in moderato tempo while ‘Frithiofs Frestelse’ is a short but more complex composition with a duet between the soprano and tenor/alto in allegretto. All of the songs have a sparse piano accompaniment with simple chords. It is quite likely that Hedda Wrangel composed more music. Fredrika Bremer names ‘Syrénsång’ and there are surely other pieces hidden in private archives.

Eva Öhrström © 2016
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson

Bibliography

Bergman, Carl Abraham: Tal vid Anna Hedvig Wrangels jordfästning i Träne kyrka den 2 augusti 1833. Christianstad, printed by Schmidt et Comp, 1833.
Borgström, Eva: Kärlekshistoria. Begär mellan kvinnor i 1800−talets litteratur. Göteborg, Kabusa Böcker, 2008.
Burman, Carina: Bremer. En biografi. Albert Bonniers Förlag, Uddevalla 2001.
Elgenstierna, Gustaf: Den introducerade adelns ättartavlor med tillägg och rättelser IX. Stockholm: P.A.Norstedt & Söners Förlag 1936/1998.
Eliason, Åke & Norlind, Tobias: Tegnér i musiken. Lund, Gleerups förlag, 1946.
Möller, Peter von: Halländska herregårdar. Stockholm, 1871, p. 95.
Schmidt, Pia: Kvinnliga tonsättare i Sverige 18001935. En verkförteckning. Högskolan i Borås. Specialarbete 1982:37.
Malla Montgomery Silfverstolpes Memoarer del IIV. Utgivna av Malla Grandinsson. Stockholm, Albert Bonniers Förlag 1914−1920.
Tegnér, Esaias: Samlade skrifter. Sjätte delen 1827−1836. Stockholm P.A. Norstedt & Söners Förlag, 1922.
——: Brev IV 18261827. Malmö, Allhems Förlag, 1955.
Öhrström, Eva: Borgerliga kvinnors musicerande i 1800talets Sverige. Diss. (Writings from the Department of Musicology, Gothenburg University, no. 15.) Göteborg 1987.

Summary list of works

Three songs from Frithiofs Saga (1828) [the only preserved works].

Collected works

Tre sånger ur Frithiofs Saga. Music dedicated to Frithiof's Poet by Hedda Wrangel. 1. Frithiofs frieri, Andante, 2. Kung Ring, Moderato, 3. Frithiofs frestelse, Allegretto, duet for soprano and tenor or alto.