Rue Helen Buchholtz - Street

Rue Helen Buchholtz

Pioneering composer
Co-driver in a car race
Charlotte Helena
Birth year
Year of death
Places of residence
Esch/Alzette - Luxembourg-City - Luxembourg ¦ Wiesbaden - Germany

Who is she?

Charlotte Helena Buchholtz was born on 24 November 1877 in Esch/Alzette. Her father Daniel Buchholtz ran a hardware store and founded the Buchholtz brewery.

At an early age, she took private lessons in piano, violin and music theory. Her musical education was supported by the family, especially by her father and uncle, who were involved in popular music in Esch/Alzette. His first music teacher was probably Felix Krein, the best-known musician in the mining metropolis at the time.

According to the customs of the wealthy bourgeoisie, Helen and her sisters attended a French boarding school in Longwy after primary school. Back in Esch/Alzette, Helen lived in her parents' house. Her father died in 1910 and bequeathed part of the brewery to his youngest daughter, who thus became financially independent. At that time there was no music conservatory or music college, so she had to teach herself. Her nephew François Ettinger remembers her eccentric lifestyle: "She liked extravagances, like her hair touching the ground or her long nails. Another extravagance at that time was undoubtedly her participation in the Heiderscheidergrund car race as a co-driver in 1912. The emancipated young woman was also the first woman in Luxembourg to enter the world of musical creation, which until then had been dominated exclusively by men.

In 1914, on the eve of the First World War, Helen married the German doctor Bernhard Geiger in Metz and moved to Wiesbaden. This bustling city offered her an unparalleled cultural environment. The young couple decided not to have children so that Helen could have time to compose and perfect her musical education.

In 1921, her husband died suddenly. Helen returned to Luxembourg and lived in Luxembourg City until her death in 1953.

Her impressive musical output consists of 139 compositions, of which she published only one tenth. Her songs are rich in emotion and speak of nostalgic memories of past loves, of the ephemeral or of the patriotic vein and the horrors of war.

After his death, his house was emptied and his belongings burnt. Only a few bags containing sheet music could be saved by his nephew.

● Katja Rausch: Portrait de femmes célèbres luxembourgeoises, Edition Kará, 2007, pp.84-86.
● Danielle Roster: Es singt wirklich eine warme Frauenseele in ihnen, die das Leben Ernst und Bitternis kostet: die Komponistin Helen Geiger-Buchholtz (1877-1953), in:
Lëtzebuerger Almanach vum Joerhonnert: 1900-1999, Luxembourg, Edition Binsfeld, 1999, pp.122-135.

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