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The Teacher

Else had difficulty determining how she would spend her time after her retirement from the world of opera. However it quickly became evident that she should look to the world of music and find her future vocation there. She became a Docent at the Music Conservatory in Århus in 1964 and later held a teaching position at The Institute of Musical Science in Copenhagen from 1967 to 1978. There she was to become a much loved teacher and sometimes mentor. At the Institute Else would convey her deep understanding of her craft especially the skill of interpretation to her students.

Several of Else´s pupils have been interviewed about their experiences with the teacher and artist Else Brems. We thank them warmly for this contribution to our site:

Opera Singer and professor
Elisabeth Meyer-Topsøe:

“Else was my first singing teacher and was a part of my life as long as she lived. When I think about her it is first and foremost the spiritness that surrounded Else”

“Else, who was my aunt, had an aura of other-worldness and her incredible musicality and understanding of texts meant that one felt that some of this “rubbed of” on oneself and thus you felt that you sang better than was perhaps plausible for you. But more fundamental was the effect that one learned to respect and interpret the text´s content as earnestly as possible and thus convey the composers intention with the piece”

“Else possessed a liberating sense of humour and once, at a moment when I was totally immersed in singing a text with the exact tones, however to no avail in regards to the artistic expression, she remarked dryly; “ It sounds like you´re reading the contents of a grocery list!”

Concert Singer Hedwig Rummel:

“ Else Brems has meant more and more to me even though so much time has passed since she tutored me. She was my best mentor and taught me that a singer must never overdo her rendition and must be able to understand the difference between theatre and concert. She was never overly praise full and thus never made any pretence. Else Brems was warm, honest and a great listener – a teacher with a deep understanding of our craft”

Former Royal opera singer Palle Kibsgaard:

“ My time as Else Brems´ pupil began when my time at The Royal Theatre in Copenhagen had commenced and I remember her with a sense of great reverence and respect. She was as deeply professional mentor who was very conscious of her own limits. This meant that I experienced her as a teacher who was fully conscious of what she knew and this gave me a sense of security as her pupil”

MA and music reviewer at the Danish newspaper Weekendavisen Knud Ketting:

“ I experienced Else Brems as a wonderfully warm person who was very attentive of her pupils. She worked a very broad repertoire with me and guided me so I could identify the pieces that lay within my abilities”

Organ Player Tove Lindgreen:

“I took singing lessons with Else Brems during my musical studies at the University of Copenhagen and continued to do so later on as a private pupil. Else Brems possessed a grand personality which exuded much warmth and a profound understanding of music. Her inspiring teachings and her conveying of the core of music have been a great help during my later vocation as an Organ Player”

Associate Professor emeritus in song and music
Sten Høgel:

“I first met Else Brems in 1967. Kristian Riis, the then director of the Song Department at The Institute of Musical Science at Copenhagen University, had succeeded in convincing Else to take a position as singing teacher for a group of students. Thus she and I became colleagues for the next couple of years and her importance for the department would be considerable. Her unique artistic and teaching skills would be of great importance to her pupils as well as the department which benefitted from her presence.”

”Else Brems formåede at tilføre sine elever meget af den musikalske indlevelse og fraseringskunst, der havde karakteriseret hendes eget kunstneriske virke. De fleste af de musikstuderende skulle ikke være sangere, men musikformidlere i bred forstand. Mødet med en stor kunstner som Else Brems gav dem en ekstra dimension, et åndeligt løft, som de bragte med sig som en værdifuld ressource. “ Else Brems gave her pupils much of the musical understanding and art of musical phrasing which had characterized her own life as an artist. Many of the students were not studying at the Institute to become singers but studied towards professions in the areas of music decimation in a more broader sense. Meeting an artist of Else´s calibre gave them a further dimension, a spirited lift, that they would take with them as important resource.

The years at the Institute were also important to Else who once remarked to me that the years at the Institute, on a personal as well as professional level, belonged to the most happiest of her life”

Sten Høgel was responsible for the collection of material and research during production of the double CD with Else´s songs that Danacord Records released in 1999. Among others he worked together with Else´s close friend Eva Ørstinge and Willy Dähnhardt during these tasks. Furthermore he wrote the booklet that accompanied the two CD´s.