Emilie Uggla was a pianist and a singer who was active during the first half of the nineteenth century. She was one of the first Swedish pianists to undertake nationwide tours.
Emilie Uggla was born in Karlstad in 1819. Her full name was Emilia Maria Sofia Uggla. She was the eldest child born to a family which came to number seven children. Her father, Carl Wilhelm Uggla, was an army captain in the Värmland fältjägar (rifle) regiment who was a jack of all trades. Her mother, Sara Johanna née Frykman, was the daughter of a district court judge and merchant in Karlstad.
There is little information about Emilie Uggla’s childhood and her musical background. It is likely that she received musical training at home, as was the norm for daughters of the upper social classes, and sometimes this training bordered on the professional. Shortly before her formal debut Emilie Uggla had studied with Olof Willman, who was a violinist with the royal court orchestra and also ran a music teaching enterprise in Stockholm. She learned to sing according to the method taught at the Paris conservatoire of music. She also took dance lessons with the ballet teacher Anders Selinder.
In 1831 Emilie Uggla gave her first piano performance, under her own name, at a public concert held in Stora börssalen at the Stockholm Stock Exchange, accompanied by musicians from the royal orchestra as well as two singers from Kungliga teatern (now known as Kungliga Operan). She was eleven years old at the time but her virtuoso piano-playing had already gained attention and was much discussed following her previous performances as an anonymous child prodigy at several private concerts. Olof Willman, who attended the debut public concert, accompanied her to the piano and turned the pages of her music. The concert was unusually well-attended and the press reviews were profusely laudatory. After her second public concert fellow music-lovers in Stockholm donated a piano so that she could continue her lessons.
She had already composed a few short pieces of piano music when she was eleven years old, comprising three “anglaises” which were subsequently printed and marketed for sale. She made her singing debut the following year, aged twelve, at a concert in Djurgårdskyrkan (church). Her voice was described as clear, pure and rather small although capable of a wide range. Her song repertoire was characterised by virtuoso coloraturas.
For the immediately following period Emilie Uggla led the life of an intensely active musician. From the ages of 11 to 23 she toured throughout Sweden and then Norway, Finland, and Russia. She accrued both financial gains and reputational success both as a singer and a pianist. At the beginning of her career she performed under the artistic name of Emelie when performing publicly. Later she more frequently performed as Emilie. She only used the name Emilia in private settings. She always travelled in the company of her father and often with her younger sister Aspasia, who also performed as a singer at many concerts.
In accordance with the European norm of the day Emilie Uggla’s concert programme contained a mix of popular and virtuoso songs and piano pieces. Her programmes were unusual in that she often performed chamber music pieces along with other musicians which was normally reserved for male pianists. Between 1831 and 1834 Emilie Uggla organised soirées and concerts across southern Sweden, including in Linköping, Kalmar, Malmö and Gothenburg. She performed alongside amateurs and professional musicians in various rural music societies.
During 1834 and 1836 Emilie Uggla spent two longer periods of time in Norway where, further to her tours she also ran a dance school for young ladies in Kristiania (now Oslo). In between her Norwegian visits she spent some time in Uppsala in 1835 where she offered similar music- and dance-lessons.
In the summer of 1838 Emilie Uggla, along with her father and her sister Aspasia, travelled to Finland where she gave several concerts, including in Åbo and in Helsinki. From there they travelled on to St Petersburg, where they remained until the spring of 1840. Emilie Uggla gave at least ten performances in the then Russian capital city and also performed at the Russian imperial court.
Following her return to Sweden Emilie Uggla continued her public performing for another couple of years. She had intended to return to Russia but her father fell ill, putting an end to those ideas. In 1843 Emilie Uggla accepted a position as a governess for the Saint Cyr family at Upperud works in Dalsland. There, in 1847, she married the manager of the works, Theodor Uggla, who was a distant relative. She had six children, dying in 1855 following a complicated delivery.
Emilie Uggla is buried at Skållerud cemetery in Dalsland.