Luisa Sumpf Greger
Anne Williams, Brigham Young University
Luise Sumpf Greger was born in 1862 in Greifswald, Germany. Her father owned a brewery, and was a senator in the free city of Greifswald. Luise Greger began piano lessons at age 5 and became a child prodigy. She played for the Czar’s family in St. Petersburg at age 9, and began composing by the time she was 11 years old. She married Dr. Ludwig Greger, a Berlin physician, in 1888. While still in Berlin during the 1890s, Luise Greger was declared a composer by Richard Strauss. The family moved to Kassel, Germany in 1893. After divorcing her husband in 1911 to pursue her art, she lived in the Hotel Schombard in Kassel. During the teens and 1920s she continued to travel and give concerts. In the 1930s, upon turning 70, she gave concerts in the hotel and taught singing lessons. Luise Greger had three sons. Her eldest son, Helmuth, became a doctor like his father and also had a trained baritone singing voice. During later years in the 1920s and 1930s Helmuth supported his mother, and would attend and perform at the recitals. Luise’s youngest son, Reinhard, died in World War I. Klaus, the middle son, immigrated to the United States, where he married an American woman, with whom he had three children. Klaus disappeared from Tucson, Arizona in 1919 probably a victim of the Spanish Flu. After Helmuth’s death in 1939, Luise Greger could no longer afford to live in the Hotel Schombard so she moved to an old person’s home in Hofgeismar. After the death of her protector in 1943 she was moved by officials to a mental institution in Merxhausen, where only months later in early 1944 she died of starvation; a victim of euthanasia under the Nazi regime. For several decades, Luise Greger composed, wrote lyrics, gave music lessons, performed and directed at concerts and recitals and was a welcome guest in the music salons of Germany.