Caroline Ridderstolpe (1793−1878)


Johanna Caroline Lovisa Ridderstolpe (née Kolbe) was born on 2 September 1793 in Berlin and died on 9 October 1878 at Fiholm in Västmanland. She married Baron Fredrik Ludvig Ridderstolpe who was the governor of Västmanland from 1823. Caroline Ridderstolpe mainly composed songs. She was inducted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Music (as an honorary member) in 1850.


Caroline Ridderstolpe was the daughter of Louise Requigny and Carl Kolbe, who was an orchestra conductor in Berlin. She was educated by her father on several instruments, and she studied singing and possibly composition under Carl Maria von Weber. She was an accomplished singer of the Italian bel canto style. She met her prospective spouse Fredrik Ridderstolpe (1783−1852) while on her educational tour of the continent, when he passed through Berlin. They were married on 19 May 1816. After their marriage, the couple settled in the Castle Tidö in the region of Västmanland.

Caroline Ridderstolpe had already spent time with people at the royal court during her childhood in Berlin. One of her close friends was Princess Marianne, wife of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, who was the brother of Prussia’s King Frederick William III. In Sweden she quickly became lady-in-waiting to Queen Désirée and Crown Princess Josephine. She participated in the salons held at the royal court, which could be considered private concerts, and she was part of a social circle that hosted salons whose particpants were more or less close friends of the court. One such circle revolved around his Excellency Mathias Rosenblad, who hosted soirées whose guests included the Austrian diplomat Count Eduard Woyna, countesses Mathilda Montgomery Cederhielm and Carolina von Rosen. As Fredrik Ridderstolpe was very close to Charles XIV John, presence at the court was an important part of life in Stockholm during winters.

Caroline Ridderstolpe crossed over the era’s social restrictions by also becoming involved in the public concerts given at the De la Croix’s salon in the 1840s. From letters we know that she was a very popular person in social life.

In 1823 Fredrik Ridderstolpe was appointed as the Governor of Västmanland County and the castle in Västerås became an additional home for the couple. The pair had two children. Caroline Ridderstolpe died in 1878 at Fiholm castle in Västmanland.


Surviving music notebooks show that Caroline Ridderstolpe was stylistically anchored in the German repertoire from around 1800. These books contain solo songs by Louis Spohr, Johann Friedrich Reichardt and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, among others. That Caroline was not averse to folksong arrangements is proven by the fact that a Tyrolean folk song is also included. Another music notebook includes opera arias by Ferdinando Paër, Giovanni Liverati and Carl Friedrich Rungenhagen, and the last part of a work of Stefano Pavesi. The repertoire of the preserved music notebooks is limited and she likely owned more notebooks than have survived. That she was interested in Erik Gustaf Geijer and Arvid August Afzelius’s Svenska folk-visor från forntiden (Swedish folk songs from the past) is confirmed, but there is no trace of her own preserved compositions of Swedish folk songs.

Caroline Ridderstolpe’s songs are strophic and she attempts to interpret the character of the text in music from the very first line. In some songs, such as ‘Dufvoposten’, the text, melody and accompaniment form a unit. The text ‘Ila snabbt på silfverklara vingar’ is depicted with an introductory melody that quickly glides up one octave. Most prominent is her German background, as several songs have German lyrics and a German ‘Lied’ character. There are songs reminiscent of Agatha’s aria from Der Freischütz (The Marksman) by Caroline Ridderstolpe’s teacher Carl Maria von Weber, and a comparison between her and Reichardt's songs shows that the two composers were moving in the same stylistic conceptual worlds. Her songs also move between extremes; some songs have elements of opera coloraturas while the song ‘Schweizer Visa’ includes yodel figures.

Several of her songs were dedicated to friends: she dedicated Schwedische Lieder to her friend Princess Marianne of Prussia, Åtta sånger to the Baroness Aurore Braunerhjelm, and the collection Sju sånger was dedicated to the soon to be Swedish Crown Princess Josephine from Germany.

Eva Öhrström © 2016
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson


Arnfelt, Arvid: Ur svenska hofvets och aristokratiens lif, vol. 7, Stockholm: Lamm, 1883.
Berg, P. G. & Stålberg, Wilhelmina (eds): Anteckningar om svenska qvinnor, Stockholm: Berg, 1864.
‘Caroline Ridderstolpe’, in: Sohlmans musiklexikon 1948-1952, 1975-79, Sohlmans förlag AB, Stockholm.
Elgenstierna, Gustaf: Den introducerade svenska adelns ättar tavlor, vol. 6, Stockholm: Norstedt, 1931.
Eliason, Åke & Norlind, Tobias: Tegnér i musiken, Lund: Gleerup, 1946.
Forslin, Alfhild: Runeberg i musiken, Helsingfors: Svenska litteratursällskapet, p. 327.
Norlind, Tobias
: ‘Caroline Ridderstolpe’, in: Allmänt musiklexikon, Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 1916.
Rosén, J.M.: Några minnesblad, andra avdelningen, Stockholm: Central-Tryckeriets Förlag, 1877.
Schmidt, Pia: Kvinnliga tonsättare i Sverige 1800–1935. En verkförteckning, specialarbete, University of Borås, 1982.
von Quanten, Aurora Magdalena (pseud: Turdus Merula): Musikerns dotter. Romantiserade bilder från Carl XIV Johans tid,  Stockholm: Nils Gleerups förlags expedition, 1881.
Öhrström, Eva: Borgerliga kvinnors musicerande i 1800-talets Sverige, diss. in musicology, University of Gothenburg, 1987.


Uppsala University Library, Musik- och teaterbiblioteket (Brevsamlingen, Lo II: 123, 6).

Summary list of works

Piano works, songs (ca 40 extant pieces).

Collected works

Schwedische Lieder aus Axel und Frithiof in Musik gesetzt und Ihrer Königlichen Hoheit der Prinzessinn Wilhelm von Preussen unterthänigst zugeeignet von C R. Stockholm (Esaias Tegnér, trans. Amalia von Helvig). C. Müller, 1829.
Seven songs with accompaniment for pianoforte, humbly dedicated to Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess Josephina by C R. Stockholm: Ebeling, 1832.
Hvad är Glädjen?. Dedicated to the memory of the deceased Fru Josephine Benedicks by her grieving friend C R. Stockholm: Möller, 1834.
New songs with accompaniment for piano-forte. Meÿer, 1836.
Eight songs for pianoforte with Swedish and German text, dedicated to the high born Friherrinnan Aurore Braunerhjelm by C R. Stockholm: Salmson, 1848.
Five minor songs at the pianoforte. Stockholm: C.F. Bengtsson, n.d.
Sof oroliga hjerta sof (J.L. Runeberg).
Trost der Kleinen (Castile).
Vaggsång för mitt hjerta (J.L. Runeberg)
Ziel der Sehnsucht.

Mina sista höstblommor. Lieder ohne Worte och marscher för pianoforte. Björkman, 1863.

Works by Caroline Ridderstolpe

This is not a complete list of works. The following works are those that have been inventoried so far.

Number of works: 10