Marie Christine Bergersen
1894 - 1989
Marie Christine Bergersen was born in Chicago, Illinois. She began her musical training at the age of three, and by the time she was a teenager her private lessons were supplemented by sessions at the American Conservatory of Music. In 1911, Bergersen composed the Three Silhouettes for piano. Early in 1912, she completed her best-known work, the Theme and Variations, also for piano. In June of 1912, the eighteen-year-old Bergersen went to Europe with mentor Louise Robyn where she enrolled in the Master School of the Imperial Conservatory in Vienna, the only student ever admitted to that school by acclaim rather than audition. The First World War interrupted her study, forcing her to return to the United States. Starting in the early 1940s, Bergersen was organist and staff composer for NBC in Chicago. She retired from NBC in 1951, but continued to be well-known, especially in apprenticeship circles. In 1977, as part of the American Bicentennial Celebration, her Theme and Variations was performed in Washington, D.C. Although she composed a great deal of vocal as well as keyboard music; most of it is now lost. She refers many times in her letters from Europe (housed at the Newberry Library, Chicago) to music of her creation which has been or was going to be performed in the U.S. while she was away. Many of these scores doubtless exist and will eventually be found. The only work published was the group of Three Silhouettes.