Ruth Almén was a music teacher, a composer, and a writer.
Ruth Almén was born in Solberg, Bohuslän in 1870. She was the daughter of Johan Aron Andersson Almén, a vicar, and his wife Johanna Karolina Hellevi. Ruth Almén was the second of five children. It is likely that she learned to play the piano and sing at an early age. Composing melodies, drawing, and writing were all considered to be suitable pastimes for children at the time. The clerical home of her childhood appears to have been a generous and cultured one.
Ruth Almén had several teachers. She travelled to Stockholm, where she took piano lessons from Richard Andersson, followed by Knut Bäck in Gothenburg. She then travelled to Berlin around the turn of the 20th century, where she studied with the pianist Heinrich Barth. She later travelled to Paris, where she studied with the pianist Robert Lortat. She learned how to harmonise and counterpoint in Stockholm with Gustaf Hägg, and then in Gothenburg with Wilhelm Stenhammar. The list of her compositions is highly select and consists of a concert for piano, a violin and piano sonata, two piano sonatas, a few minor pieces for piano, and nine songs. Her compositions were written in a late-romantic style which was reminiscent of both Johannes Brahms and particularly of Wilhelm Stenhammar’s chamber music.
From 1897 Ruth Almén also worked as a piano teacher and an instructor in music theory. In addition to being a pianist and a teacher she also composed, wrote poetry, and was a writer. Her first poetry collection was published in 1895. It was entitled Vid synranden, and published under the pseudonym of Runar Alm, which was a name she used until 1904. In the early 1900s she also published several children’s stories, in addition to poetry, and later also wrote articles which were published in several editions of Kvinnornas tidning in 1925.
Ruth Almén spent the majority of her life living in Gothenburg, where – in comparison to many other places – the musical climate was more advantageous for women. Elfrida Andrée was both an organist at the cathedral there and taught many women in the town. From 1897 to 1929 she and her niece Elsa Stenhammar ran the “folkkonserter” (public concerts) in Gothenburg. Elsa Stenhammar was a very active pedagogue and choirmaster and had great social skills. She and her cousin Wilhelm Stenhammar collaborated in orchestral terms and she established the concert house choir. Even though there is only evidence that Ruth Almén studied with Wilhelm Stenhammar, it is highly likely that she moved in Elfrida Andrée’s and Elsa Stenhammar’s circles.
Ruth Almén died in Gothenburg in 1945.