Florence Wickham (1880-1962).

  • Profession: Mezzo-soprano.
  • Relation to Mahler: Worked with Gustav Mahler.
  • Correspondence with Mahler:
  • Born: 00-00-1880 Beaver, Pennsylvania, America.
  • Died: 00-00-1962 New York, America. Aged 82.
  • Buried: 00-00-0000
  1. 1910 Opera New York 05-03-1910.
  2. 1910 Opera New York 09-03-1910.
  3. 1910 Opera New York 17-03-1910.
  4. 1910 Opera New York 21-03-1910 (Last opera conducted by Gustav Mahler).

Florence Wickham was an international opera star and composer of ballets and operettas.  She starred as a leading contralto soloist in Berlin, Munich, London, and New York’s Metropolitan Opera.  Wichham also was a composer of opera’s and ballets.

Florence was born in Beaver, Pa, in 1880 the daughter of a Pennsylvania superior court judge. She graduated from Beaver College where she received a gold medal for excellence in music,  After her father passed away her uncle financed her education.  Florence continued her musical studies in Philadelphia before going to Berlin to study.  In Berlin she studied under Lilli Lehmann, Frau Mallinger, and Franz Emmerich. She made her professional debut in the role of Fides in the opera Le Prophete at the Royal Court Theater at Wiesbaden Germany at age twenty.

Her second appearance was at the Royal Theater in Munich in the role of Ameris in “Aida:.  Henry M Savage hired her for the role of Kundry in an major city American tour of the English language version of Wagner’s opera “Parsifal’  She returned to Europe to star at the leading opera houses.  Florence performed for three seasons at Covent Garden in London and in Munich.

The Metropolitan Opera Company of New York hired her in 1909. At the Met she appeared in twenty-two roles in 169 performances including several opera world premiere.  In 1910 she was honored with the Medallion for Arts and Sciences and the Title of Court Singer at a court concert in Berlin. She appeared in a opera in Pittsburgh in 1910 also.

In 1913, two years after her marriage to Eberhard Lueder, she retired from the opera and became a composer.  She wrote the music and lyric for the opera Rosalind in 1938 based on the story of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”.   Roselind was premiered at the open air Rockridge Theater in Carmel , New York in August of 1938. The Rockridge performance was sponsored by her friend, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Rosalind’s European premiere was held on November 6, 1938 at Folk Theater in Dresden, Germany.

It was a two act opera featuring a chorus of 38 set in the Forest of Arden. With Rosalind’s premiere Florence Wickham became the first women ever to write both music and lyrics of an opera. She also was the first American woman composer to have an opera produced in Europe.  Florence wrote a second opera entitled “The Legend of Hex Mountain” in 1957. It was based on the Amish of Pennsylvania and was premiered at the Memorial Hall in Plymouth, Mass,

Florence also wrote several ballets.  In 1954 three of her ballets were presented at the Chautauqua Institute.  They were “Indian Summer” – an early american fantasy,”Musicians of Murano” – about a carnival in an Italian town, and “Gift of Laughter: – an Irish fairy tale. In 1950 Florence received the Women’s Achievement Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.  She died in New York City in 1962 age 82.

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