Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven— A True Baroness

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven was a revolutionary artist that was born in Pommerania which is now a part of Poland’s border but was a part of Germany back then, on July 12, 1874. She was first exposed to art and creativity when she ran away from home and lived with her aunt in Berlin. She would often visit Bohemian theatre circles and she acquainted herself with many of the members of the exclusive group that surrounded the influential poet Stefan George. She began to experiment with artistic choices of her own, but it wasn’t until years later in 1909 when she, along with newly renamed Frederick Phillip Grove, sailed to America. There she met immigrants facing plights similar to her and wanted to create a new art forms and this allowed her to associate with other Dadaists. She was definitely not a woman of her time and she began to explore with sound a lot. She created a lot of sonic or sound poems that expressed certain feelings of hers. One of her most famous ones that got a lot of attention was her ‘Death Wail’ poem dedicated to her husband after his suicide. It was a mourning poem filled with nonsense sounds. Although, I couldn’t find a digital copy of the sound poem, many critics and commentators have described the sounds as being charged with energy. Although the sounds of the words don’t carry any meaning, the way she says them and they way she communicates them had a strong message. That is one thing that I learned, that the words you say don’t necessarily have to communicate your message. Your posture, the way you articulate the sounds and the energy you use are all equal factors in getting your message across. Reading online reviews have also referenced The Baroness to her sound poem, “Beating of Heart” which is a “sexually charged poem.” That made me wonder and question several things. How did she give the allusion to sex but made no effort to look a certain way or act a certain way? All people heard was her voice. How did she manage to take gibberish words and sounds and make it sound seductive? She was an expert in giving meaning to words and sounds that had no meaning and that was revolutionary and her efforts were appreciated. It also made me wonder about the time and culture. She lived during a time where feministic ventures were not really given much positive reception. How did she then garner such wide reception for something so new and revolutionary? What characteristics or what advantages did she have that allowed her as a woman, to accomplish so much? To answer these questions, I want to find out more about her early life and her work done in America and her associations with other artists. I want to see if I can find online any one of her sound poems and listen to it and make observations. See if what people wrote were true about her sound poems and if she really was able to communicate powerful things through just her voice and sounds.