The Three Ibsens: Memories of Henrik Ibsen, Suzannah Ibsen and Sigurd Ibsen

The Three Ibsens: Memories of Henrik Ibsen, Suzannah Ibsen and Sigurd Ibsen

The Three Ibsens: Memories of Henrik Ibsen, Suzannah Ibsen and Sigurd Ibsen

The Three Ibsens: Memories of Henrik Ibsen, Suzannah Ibsen and Sigurd Ibsen

Excerpt

This book is about Henrik Ibsen, his wife, Suzannah, and their son, Sigurd, and naturally also reveals something about Ibsen's daughter-in-law, Bergliot Ibsen. She has kept herself in the background as much as possible, continuing to do what she had done all through her married life: to adapt her impulsive Björnson temperament to the self-discipline of the Ibsens.

I will make no comment on the light this book throws on the personalities of Henrik and Suzannah Ibsen--the narrative and the letters will speak for themselves--but for the guidance of the readers of this book, I should like to say a little about Bergliot Ibsen herself.

Sigurd Ibsen, and Bergliot's brother Björn, the eldest son of Björnstjerne and Karoline Björnson, were both born in the late autumn of 1859. Sigurd was an only child, but in the 'bear family' (björn--meaning bear) there were five, of whom Bergliot, born in Kristiania (now Oslo) on the 16th June, 1869, was the youngest but one.

In 1875 after a few years in Italy the Björnsons moved to 'Aulestad' (a country estate in the valley of Gudbrandsdal) where Bergliot lived from her sixth to her thirteenth year. Then from 1882 to 1887 the family lived in Paris, and here Bergliot began to study singing. After her parents had gone home to Aulestad, she returned to Paris year after year to complete her training as a singer. In the enchanting letters which Björnson wrote to her during those years, and which Bergliot Ibsen published in 1911, one year after her father's death, we can read of the high hopes which her father had of her future as a singer. These hopes were not unfulfilled. Her musical gift was inherited from the Nordraak side of the family; her voice had great charm, and her Lieder-Recitals were an unforgettable experience.

Her preference was for songs by Kjerulf and Grieg, set to words written by Björnson, or else for hymns written by Grundtvig and others, which she sang at church concerts.

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