Märta Schéle was a concert singer and a voice pedagogue with the title of professor. She was an important force in the music life of Gothenburg both as an artist and as a teacher at the music academy in Gothenburg (Högskolan för scen och musik, University of Gothenburg). She was also one of the founders of the chamber music association Kammarmusikföreningen and she was a board member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in Stockholm.
Märta Schéle was born on 1 February 1936 in Gothenburg. Her father, Eskil Boysen was the managing director of the company Levanten just outside Gothenburg. Her mother Blenda Boysen, née Fries, matriculated in Stockholm, trained as an elementary schoolmistress and worked for a few years before her marriage.
Märta Schéle grew up as the youngest of five siblings. Her youth was traditionally middle-class, loving and with a natural focus on the children’s education. The summers of 1939–1952 were spent by the family on the Swedish west coast at Lyckorna in Ljungskile. There Märta Schéle developed her interest in swimming and tennis and was able to make her first public appearances in the summer guests’ cabarets.
Märta Schéle started her schooling at Dalida Dahlquist’s school in central Gothenburg. At the age of eleven, she started attending the grammar school for girls, Göteborgs flickläroverk. She matriculated there in 1954. The years at the girls’ grammar school did not only involve studying but also great opportunities for Märta Schéle to practise both her interests, sports and music. She was often asked to sing at morning assemblies, end-of-term festivities and school cabarets.
Märta Schéle first intended to attend the Gymnastiska centralinstitutet (GCI) to become a physical education teacher, but changed her mind. In the summer of 1953, she met her husband-to-be Ulf Schéle, and after her matriculation the year after, they became engaged and then married. The first year of marriage saw her attending a course at a housekeeping college, but her longing for music remained with her. In 1956, Märta Schéle applied to the relatively recently started Gothenburg Music Conservatory and started her studies although pregnant with her first child. Studies were then alternated with starting a family and more and more singing assignments. She studied in the class for solo song and qualified as a music teacher in 1962. She had to do her examination in Stockholm since Gothenburg did not yet have the right to conduct examinations. Among the tests were choral conducting with Eric Ericson as the examiner and orchestral conducting with Herbert Blomstedt as examiner. Märta Schéle studied voice for Greta Torpadie Bratt and Ingalill Linden, romance interpretation for the composer Erik Werba and pianist Gerald Moore, and modern notation for Mauricio Kagel.
Märta Schéle made her debut in 1959 with a programme of romances at the festival Levande musik in Gothenburg. Her career as touring concert singer lasted for about 40 years and included mainly romance and chamber music concerts as well as oratorio performances. Märta Schéle was often engaged as a soloist at choral and orchestral concerts, and could be heard in a great number of radio and TV broadcasts, as well as several recordings. She had a broad and extensive repertoire and moved freely between the various genres, from classical romances to contemporary art music and improvised song. Her interest in contemporary art music was developed and reinforced through the years through meetings and cooperation with several Swedish composers like Gösta Nystroem, Hilding Hallnäs, Ingvar Lidholm, Sven-Eric Johanson, Lars Johan Werle and Carin Malmlöf-Forssling. Several of these composers were also recorded with Märta Schéle as a soloist.
The choral conductor and choirmaster Eric Ericson played an important part in Märta Schéle’s professional development, starting during her student years and later through many soloist assignments with orchestras and choirs, as well as inspiring discussions on both interpretation and improvisation. Her meeting with the avant-garde composer John Cage during a summer course held by him on the theme ”notation and performance praxis” was of decisive significance for Märta Schéle’s attitude to notation, and influenced her feeling for musical aesthetics. The work Aria by John Cage, with graphic notation to be freely interpreted by the artist was thereafter a much appreciated and frequent piece in Märta Schéle’s concert programmes. It was with great enthusiasm and curiosity that she promoted vocal music of the 1900s for chamber ensembles, preferably with improvisatory elements, and her interpretation of, for example, Ingvar Lidholm’s Stamp Music became legendary. Märta Schéle valued highly her close cooperation with several pianists, among them Carl Tillius, José Ribera, Jan Eyron, Alexander Portnoff, Elisif Lundén-Bergfelt, Olof Höjer and Magnus Ricklund.
Märta Schéle started her career as a teacher at the beginning of the 1970s, when she was engaged by the professor of music in Gothenburg, Jan Ling, for the course Särskild Ämnesutbildning i Musik (SÄMUS) at the music conservatory in Gothenburg (later Högskolan för Scen och Musik, University of Gothenburg). After several years at SÄMUS, and parallel to her singing career, Märta Schéle worked as a teacher in voice and chamber music at the University of Gothenburg, until her retirement. The Schéle studio at the music academy Artisten in Gothenburg is named after Märta Schéle. In 1996 she was assigned the title of professor.
In 1983, Märta Schéle was elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. She was for several years the chairperson of the voice committee and sat on the board of the Academy. In 2011, Märta Schéle was awarded the medal Medaljen för Tonkonstens Främjande.
In 2000, Märta Schéle and other like-minded enthusiasts, among them the violinist Helga Hussels, founded the chamber music association Göteborgs Kammarmusikförening. Märta Schéle was a dedicated member of the board from the start and its chairperson in 2009–2012.
Märta Schéle died in her home in Särö south of Gothenburg on 27 September 2016. She left behind her four children and nine grandchildren. She is buried in the Släp Churchyard in Särö.