Princess Teresia was born in the Bavarian castle of Triesdorf on 21 December 1836 as Therese Amalie Karoline Josephine Antoinette von Sachsen-Altenburg. She died on 9 November 1914 in Stockholm. In 1864 she married the Swedish prince August and moved to Sweden, where she took active part in the musical life of the royal court. Princess Teresia composed mainly works for piano and in 1864 she became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
Princess Teresia was the daughter of Prince Edward of Saxe-Altenburg and Amalia of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, and due to these kinships, she was connected to many of Europe’s royal families. She was orphaned at 16 years of age and thereafter lived with relatives − first in the royal court in Hannover and from 20 years of age at the home of her mother’s brother, Karl-Anton of Hohenzollern in Düsseldorf and St Gallen. It was a rich cultural environment and she was educated in both piano and composition. She came to Sweden in 1864, first as consort to Prince August − the youngest son of King Oscar I. August had been urged by his father to travel to various European courts with the idea of finding an appropriate wife. A meeting was arranged with Princess Teresia and after a short engagement period, they were married in 1864 and set up housekeeping at Haga Palace just outside of Stockholm. Teresia received the title of ‘Duchess of Dalarna’ since her husband was the Duke of Dalarna.
During her time in Stockholm she took part in the musical life of the royal court. She was an accomplished pianist and often played music together with her sister-in-law, Princess Eugénie. Princess Teresia also liked to attend public concerts and opera performances. In 1864 she was elected to the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music). During the first half of the 19th century, no female member of the Swedish royal family had ever been voted into the academy. When Prince Oscar (the future King Oscar II), began engaging himself in the Music Academy’s activities in the 1850s, it created a greater interest from the royal court as a whole. This resulted in several female members of the royal household being voted into the academy in 1858 and 1859, including Sophia (Queen from 1872), Lovisa (Queen from 1859), Josephina (Queen from 1844 and Queen Mother from 1859), Desirée (Queen from 1818, Queen Mother from 1844) as well as Princess Eugénie.
The marriage with August was childless and the prince passed away in 1873. Princess Teresia left Sweden a short time thereafter settling in Neuchâtel, Switzerland until 1890, when she returned to Sweden for good. During her long absence she was in regular contact with the royal family, especially with Princess Eugénie, whose home, Fridhem outside of Visby on the island of Gotland, she visited over the course of several summers. Upon her return to Stockholm, she once again took up residence at Haga Palace, living out the rest of her life there. She engaged herself in various forms of charities, while still continuing to play music. Her chamberlain, Adam Lewenhaupt, describes how well into her older year, she liked to play piano four-hands with the royal maid of honour, Lotten Edholm, and even at special occasions performed songs within her inner circle. Princess Teresia is buried in the Riddarholm Church in Stockholm.
Princess Teresia composed mainly piano works. Some ten piano pieces are preserved, all in handwritten manuscript form and most composed during the period between 1864 and 1872. The works are often stylised dances such as mazurkas, marches and waltzes. They are well-composed pieces that give proof to the fact that Teresia had received a good education in composition in the contemporary classical salon style. The works have varying levels of difficulty, in which some require a certain skill from the pianist. The music was performed in the private environs of the royal court, however, preserved transcripts indicate that the piano pieces received a greater dissemination through the playing of pianists other than herself. On a number of these transcripts it is written that they were copied ‘by Eugénie’, which shows the close relationship the two princesses had with one another.
The princess also composed a march for wind octet, dedicated to Charles XV, as well as a polka for wind sextet. There is no evidence that either of these works were ever performed, however the sextet is also found in a piano version and likely was performed inside the royal court. Neither is there any knowledge of Teresia having composed before coming to Sweden and none proving that she composed anything after 1890. There are a couple of songs that were published, as well as a piano composition from her time in Switzerland during the 1870s and ‘80s, all written in the same style as the works she composed in Sweden.
Through her compositions and her music making, Princess Teresia is an excellent example of women from the upper-class environment who were important both for the transmission of musical knowledge and for the creation of an active musical milieu within the private sphere.
Karin Hallgren © 2015
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson
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Cronhamn, Johan Peter: Kongl. Musikaliska Akademien åren 1771−1871: Historiska anteckningar, Stockholm: Norstedt, 1871.
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Sjöberg, Ursula: 'Prins Augusts och prinsessan Teresias Haga', in: Ingrid Sjöström (ed.), Haga: Ett kungligt kulturarv, Karlstad: Votum förlag, 2009, pp. 274−279.
Bernadottebiblioteket, Stockholms slott
Summary list of works
Works for wind ensemble, piano pieces, songs.
Andantino. Gedanke an die liebe Mutter zum Geburtstag, 1865.
Anetten-Mazurka C major.
Anetten-Mazurka G major, 1864.
Dankbare Erinnerung aus der Heimat, 1865.
Lied ohne Worte, 1865.
Mazurka, 1869. [Also under the title Jugendmazurka.]
Parade-Marche, 1871. [Also for piano 4 hands.]
Romance, 1872. [Also for piano 4 hands.]
Victoria-polka, 1883. [Also for piano 4 hands.]
Voice with piano
Two songs with piano accompaniment, 1883. 1. Säg, vet du väl?, 2. Gondoliera.
Music for wind orchestra
Cavalleri-marsch for octet.
Polka, Gardet till häst, for sextet. [Also in arrangement for piano.]