Helen Boatwright life and biography

Helen Boatwright picture, image, poster

Helen Boatwright biography

Date of birth : 1916-11-17
Date of death : 2010-12-01
Birthplace : Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2010-12-06
Credited as : Soprano, performed songs by composer Charles Ives,

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Helen Boatwright was an American soprano who specialized in the performance of American song, recorded the first full-length album of songs by composer Charles Ives and had a career that spanned more than five decades.


Mrs. Boatwright was born Helena Johanna Strassburger in 1916. She was the youngest of six children in a large music-loving German family from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. After high school, she studied with Anna Shram Irvin[3] and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Oberlin College. Ms. Boatwright’s operatic debut was as Anna in a production of Otto Nicolai's Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor at Tanglewood in Massachusetts. During her career, she worked with many important figures in the world of music, including conductors Leopold Stokowski, Erich Leinsdorf, Seiji Ozawa and Zubin Mehta. She also performed with Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood in the 1940s, sang opposite tenor Mario Lanza in his operatic stage debut, and performed for President John F. Kennedy in the East Room of the White House in 1963. In 1954, she became the first person to record a full-length album of Ives' songs, "24 Songs" with pianist John Kirkpatrick. She also studied with composer Normand Lockwood. Boatwright met her future husband, violinist Howard Boatwright, in Los Angeles in 1941 when they were to perform in a National Federation of Music Clubs competition. They performed together throughout their lives in the United States, Mexico, Europe, and India and many of her husband's compositions for voice were written for her. Other notable orchestral and choral groups she sang with were Paul Hindemith’s Collegium Musicum, Alfred Mann's Cantata Singers, and Johannes Somary's Amor Artis Chorale.

In 1964, her husband became the dean of the Syracuse University School of Music and Mrs. Boatwright also came to teach there. In 1969 the Boatwrights established a university-sponsored summer program, L'Ecole Hindemith in Vevey, Switzerland. They taught and performed there every summer until 1988. Mrs. Boatwright was a professor of voice at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester from 1972-79, and was a guest professor at Cornell University and the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University. She also gave master-classes at Glimmerglass Opera, University of Massachusets, University of North Carolina and Washington University. In 2003, Syracuse University presented Boatwright with an honorary doctor of music degree. Into her 90s, Boatwright continued to study music and teach, and in 2006, on her birthday, she celebrated with a solo concert at a local church.

Partial discography

* 24 Songs / Songs From Emily Dickinson – Composers Recordings (2001)
* Handel: The Chandos Anthems I-VI (Vanguard 1998)
* Hansel and Gretal: An Opera Fantasy (1954) View Video (2001)
* Chandos Anthems I-VI - Vanguard (SRV-227 SD / SRV-229 (1966)
* Music of Franz Tunder - Howard & Helen Boatwright (1954)
* Schubert - Mass No. 6 in E Flat Major - Decca DL 9422
* Happiest Millionaire – Disneyland Ster 5001

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