Amalia Redec was a composer, a pianist, and a piano-teacher who composed and published Romantic music.
Amalia Redec was born in 1812 in Gothenburg. She was the oldest child of her family. Her father owned a building and ran a business at Drottninggatan. The family household included her mother, her maternal grandmother, servants and shop assistants. In this period singing, piano-playing, and composing were mandatory elements in the education of daughters of the bourgeoisie. Amalia Redec presumably received musical tuition from her mother, her maternal grandmother, or a governess.
Amalia Redec married her coeval Johan Peter Redec in 1834 and, within the space of six years, gave birth to four children. Two of these children died early. As a result of her husband’s bankruptcy and failed business ventures the family lived a nomadic lifestyle which included Uppsala, Stockholm, Småland, and France. Just before her husband’s death in 1850 Amalia Redec and her two sons moved back to Gothenburg, where she saw out the rest of her life.
Most of the information on Amalia Redec’s musical activities and output dates from the mid-1850s. In 1851 she apparently gave a public concert in Gothenburg. During the 1850–1851 period she worked as a music teacher at Evangeliska Brödraförsamlingens flickskola (Evangelical Brothers’ congregation girls’ school), known as the Mathilda Hall school. Two of her sisters – Emma Mathilda and Ida Helena Setterborg – later held the same position.
Amalia Redec’s published compositions include four collections of songs, each containing six songs, a “dance portfolio” for piano, as well as the composition entitled Tiggargossen, with lyrics by Assar Lindeblad, a proponent of Scandinavianism. The two first song collections were published by Hedboms förlag in Stockholm. Amalia Redec published the third one herself in Gothenburg in 1853. Her fourth collection was also self-published but in Copenhagen, probably around 1855. All of the songs were written in the Romantic style of the period. The piano arrangements can be comfortably played and the complexity of the tunes is appropriate to the intended audience of accomplished amateur musicians. The compositions are programmatic and move seamlessly between various emotions clearly reflecting musically the lyrical changes in mood by, for example, going from major to minor, or by changing the shape of the musical accompaniment.
Amalia Redec’s use of tone is characterised by a somewhat unexpectedly advanced harmonising and bold chromatic scales. Her third song collection was reviewed in Ny tidning för musik in 1854: “These songs are not, as would be expected of a woman, delicate and tender but incline more towards the energetic, ascerbic, and sometimes even humorous direction. They are indeed particularly immature and formless, albeit not unplanned; however, at various points a talent emerges which, if developed, could in the future become something great”. The lyrics which she chose to put to music tended to be written by leading contemporary figures such as Tegnér, Stagnelius, Atterbom, and Malmström. The song collections do not include the lyric-writers’ names with any kind of consistency. The songs mainly concern themes such as feelings, ambiences, and the romantic depictions of nature. A more dramatic element pervades the third collection, however, and the songs more consistently concern the fates and separation.
Four of Amalia Redec’s compositions are included in the 1874 song collection, entitled Det sjungande Sverige – 100 kända och omtyckta sånger, implying that her music – now largely forgotten – was a that time generally fairly well-known. Her choice of required piano-playing ability, just like her choice of well-known lyrics, indicates that she probably composed with an eye to earning an income. Her publications, the style of her compositions, as well as much of her own musical performances, belonged to the salon- and home-performance tradition which provided the usual forum for most bourgeois women’s musical activities. This tradition became obsolete with the emergence of the public concert sphere.
Amalia Redec died in Gothenburg in 1885.