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Helen Boatwright (Soprano)

Born: November 17, 1916 - Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA
Died: December 1, 2010 - Jamesville, New York, USA

The American soprano and teacher, Helen Boatwright (née Strassburger), grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin during the Depression. She began her training with Anna Shram Irving. Later she studied voice with Professor Marion Sims (1892-1980) at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (Ohio), receiving the bachelor degree in music in 1939 and the master's degree in music in 1943.

Helen Strassburger went on to become a professional oratorio singer. After making her operatic debut as Anna in an English language production of Nicolai's Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor at the Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood, Massachusetts), she appeared in opera in Austin (Texas) and San Antonio (Texas) from 1943 to 1945. On June 25, 1943, she married the violinist, conductor and composer Howard Boatwright (1918-1999), with whom she often appeared in concert. Throughout her career Helen Boatwright has won acclaim for her interpretations of the song repertoire of the 20th-century and she devoted much of her career also to early music. Her career as a soprano soloist spanned 50 years. She sang with many orchestras and choral groups in the USA, including Paul Hindemith's Collegium Musicum, Alfred Mann's Cantata Singers, and Johannes Somary's Amor Artis Chorale. She made several recordings; among her notable performances are definitive recordings of the songs of Charles Ives with John Kirkpatrick at the piano.

Helen Boatwright taught in New Haven from 1945 to 1964, and in 1965 became adjunct professor of voice at Syracuse University (New York). In 1967 she made her New York recital debut at Town Hall. She was professor of voice at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester (New York) from 1972 to1979, and at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore from 1987 to 1989, and was Professor of Voice in the Summers of 1969-1988. She also gave master-classes at Glimmerglass Opera, University of Massachusets, University of North Carolina and Washington University (1989).

Children of Howard Boatwright and Helen Strassburger are: Howard Leake Boatwright, Alice Karth Boatwright, and David Alexander Boatwright.

Source: Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); International Who's Who in Music & Musicians' Directory (13th Edition, 1992/93); Irving S. Gilmore Music Library Website; Boat(w)right Family Genealogy Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (March 2010); Manfred Krugmann (May 2011; Photos 02-03, June 2012)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Klaus Liepmann


BWV 245

Donald Plott


V-2 (1965): BWV 232

Links to other Sites

Irving S. Gilmore Music Library: Archival Papers in the Music Library of Yale University
Boat(w)right Family Genealogy in America

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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