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  • Barbara Fröhlich

    by Ingeborg Harer
    Betty Bogner, Porträt von Emanuel Thomas Peter, 1829 (Wienmuseum, Wien)
    Barbara Fröhlich
    Birth name: Barbara Franziska Fröhlich
    Married name: Barbara Bogner
    b in Wien, Österreich
    d in Wien, Österreich
    Artist, Art Teacher, Singer, Pianist, Correspondent
    Characteristic statement:

    „Die zweite Schwester [Barbara Fröhlich] kann man ein Universalgenie nennen. Sie spielt Clavier und singt (beides in hohem Kunstgrade), sie malt Miniatur und zeigt auch darin ein so bedeutendes Talent, daß einige der ersten Meister Wiens es sich zum Vergnügen machen, sie zu unterrichten, sie spielt Violine, ja sie pfeift mit dem Munde ganze Concerte.“

    (“The second sister [Barbara Fröhlich] can be called a universal genius. She plays the piano and sings (both with a high level of artistry); she paints miniatures and shows such great talent that some of Vienna’s foremost masters take pleasure in teaching her. She plays the violin, indeed, she whistles whole concertos with her mouth.”)

    [Ignaz Franz Castelli]. Tagebuch aus Wien (Fortsetzung). In: Dresdner Abend-Zeitung Nr. 32. 6. Februar 1824. S. 128.


    As a young person, Barbara Fröhlich, the second eldest of the four Fröhlich sisters, performed in the musical circles of Vienna as a singer with her sister, Anna Fröhlich. With her music, she contributed to Fröhlich family life and was part of the friendship circle surrounding Franz Schubert and Franz Grillparzer. She differed from her sisters, however, in that she trained to be an artist and went on to work as an art teacher. Also unlike her sisters, she married, had a son and, in later years, no longer lived with her sisters and Franz Grillparzer. Her works include portraits of her sisters and other personalities from her circle, as well as copies of her teacher Moritz Michael Daffinger’s miniature paintings.

    Cities and countries

    Barbara Froehlich (married name Bogner) was active, at least professionally, only in Vienna.


    Barbara Fröhlich was the second eldest of the four Fröhlich sisters (see also Anna Fröhlich, Katharina Fröhlich, Josephine Fröhlich) and was born on August 30th, 1798 in Vienna. Her parents were Mathias Fröhlich (1756-1843) and Barbara, nee Mayr (1764-1841) and came from Pottendorf in Lower Austria before settling in Vienna (Wieden) in around 1790, where Mathias Fröhlich ran a business as a ‘Weinschlagmacher’, maintaining wine barrels. From 1811, the family lived in the centre of Vienna at Singerstraße 18 (still standing today), although the mother, Barbara Fröhlich, joined her husband in the city with her daughters only later (see Blaha, pp. 35-37). From 1826, the family lived at Spiegelgasse 21 (no longer standing today), where Barbara, as the only one of the sisters to marry, lived for a while with her husband Ferdinand Bogner and her son Wilhelm.

    Barbara apparently distinguished herself from her sisters from an early age: “Als Kind zeigte sie mehr knaben- als mädchenhafte Anlagen. Etwas Derbes, Urwüchsiges blieb ihr immer eigen; sie scheute sich nie das bezeichnendste Wort in den Mund zu nehmen und ihre Briefe strotzen von Grobianismen.” (“As a child, she showed more boyish than girlish qualities. She always had something rough and unspoilt about her; she was never one to mince her words and her letters are full of indelicacies.”; Sauer, 1895, p. 22)

    Like her sister Anna Fröhlich, Barbara would have received music lessons as a child and was a particularly talented singer and musician. Nothing more is known about her vocal training or about her learning the piano and violin, as mentioned by Ignaz Franz Castelli.

    Together with her sister Anna Fröhlich, Barbara Fröhlich appeared as an active member at the ‘Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde’ in Vienna as early as 1814 and from 1816/17, she participated in the association’s so-called ‘Abend-Unterhaltungen’ [evening entertainments], as well as in musical evenings of the Viennese families Sonnleithner and Kiesewetter (see also Anna Fröhlich). Hippolytus Sonnleithner reports on the impression she made there: “ […] wer sie [Barbara] aber in den Konzerten des Hofrats v. Kiesewetter, wo sich damals die Elite der gewiegtesten Musikkenner Wiens einfand, Scarlatti, Allegri, Palestrina usw. singen zu hören das Glück hatte, nahm für sein ganzes Leben den unvergeßlichen Eindruck der ergreifenden Macht des edelsten und großangelegtesten Vortrags mit sich […]” (“[...] those who had the good fortune to hear her [Barbara] sing at the concerts of the Hofrat v. Kiesewetter, where the elite of Vienna's most seasoned music connoisseurs - Scarlatti, Allegri, Palestrina, and so on - were to be found, was forever left with the unforgettable impression of the gripping power of the most noble and grand recital [...]”; quoted by Kier, 1968, p. 66).

    Her debut as a singer at the Theater an der Wien in October 1816, playing the role of the page in François Adrien Boieldieu’s opera ‘Johann von Paris’, was reviewed in the column ‘Theatralische Versuche’ [theatrical experiments]: “Mlle Babette Fröhlich als Page [...] hat eine angenehme, wenn auch nicht starke, Stimme und ihr Benehmen auf der Bühne war ungezwungen genug, um nicht gute Hoffnungen für die Folge zu erwecken. Auch ist dabey nicht zu übersehen, daß sie ihren ersten Versuch in einer männlichen Kleidung wagte, wodurch nothwendig die Befangenheit des Spiels vermehrt werden mußte. Sie wurde glücklicherweise nicht, wie es zuweilen aus gutgemeinter aber ganz irriger Absicht geschieht, durch den Beyfall erdrückt, sondern nur ermuntert […].” (“Mlle Babette Fröhlich as the page […] has a pleasant, though not strong, voice and a stage presence so casual, that it failed to stir any anticipation for what was to come. One should not overlook, however, that it was her first attempt at a pants role, which no doubt raised expectations. This thankfully did not limit the applause, as such well-intentioned but completely mistaken attempts often do, but rather encouraged it […].”; Wiener Moden-Zeitschrift, 1816, p. 536)

    more on Biography less on Biography

    Although Barbara Fröhlich could have quickly made a name for herself as a singer, she chose to train as an artist, studying under Moritz Michael Daffinger (1790-1848). Her regular and active, although often uncredited, work on his pieces is well known. She was commissioned with numerous miniatures for which Daffinger himself only provided the concept. She also produced numerous copies of Daffinger’s pictures, according to demand, and thus made a name for herself as a flower painter (Sauer, 1895, p. 227).

    In art history, she appeared in about 1828 as a “Bildnis- Historien- Miniaturmalerin und Zeichenlehrerin” [Portait, Historical, Miniature and Sketch Artist]. (Schimdt-Liebich, 2005, p. 153) She exhibited her works in Vienna in 1822, 1826 and 1830. Today, her works are partly housed in the Vienna Museum, especially in the so-called Grillparzer Room, where, among others, “Medea” and “Amor in eine Hütte tretend” [Amor entering a hut] can be found, along with miniature paintings and portraits. A miniature portrait showing Betty Bogner by the painter Emanuel Thomas Peter and dated 1829 is also kept there. From 1831 at the latest, she worked as a drawing teacher at the ‘Offizierstöchter-Institut Hernals’ (Vienna), taking on an important position that she held until October 1850 (Blaha, 2002, pp. 102-123).

    From 1825, Barbara was married to the flutist Ferdinand Bogner (1786-1846), who was also the flute teacher at the Conservatory of the ‘Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde’ in Vienna. Like Barbara, he performed regularly as part of the ‘Abend-Unterhaltungen’ [evening entertainments] at the ‘Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde’. Schubert wrote flute variations on the song ‘Trockne Blumen’ D. 802 for Ferdinand Bogner.

    Their son, Wilhelm Bogner, was born on August 19th, 1826 (and died on May 25th, 1848) and was the centre of the sisters’ household at Spiegelgasse 21 as a child. He was spoiled by his aunts and their visitors, but also introduced to the arts with visits to the theatre, for example. Wilhelm's tutor was Moritz Sonnleithner (Blaha, 2002, p. 146), who, a brother of Leopold Sonnleithner’s, cousin to Franz Grillparzer and friend of the family’s, reported in letters on the progress of his pupil Wilhelm (see also Josephine Fröhlich). When Barbara's husband Ferdinand Bogner died in 1846, Grillparzer took over the young man’s guardianship and education.

    Wilhelm's early death two years later, in 1848, marked a tragic turning point for Barbara Fröhlich and indeed for the entire family. Contemporaries observed a ‘Verwandlung’ [change, transformation] in her nature, and a withdrawal from her three sisters’ way of life. Barbara maintained contact despite their increasing differences. A[uguste] von Littrow-Bischoff described in her article ‘Von Vieren die Letzte’, which appeared in the ‘Neue Freie Presse’ in 1880, that in her last years Barbara Fröhlich fell more and more into a state of “neglect and decline”, that she, “von Welt und Menschen trennend, vollständig zum weiblichen Sonderling machte” (“separated from the world and society, became a complete female misfit”; Littrow-Bischoff, 1880, p. 3). It is interesting that the author also emphasized Barbara Fröhlich’s struggle with her gender: “Mit cynischer Selbsttironie trug sie ihr Geschlecht als einen Fluch durchs Leben, im Zwiespalt mit der Welt, im Hader mit der Natur, die sich für solche Widersetzlichkeit zu rächen schien. Wer die schönen Züge, das edle Oval des Gesichts, die großen Geist und Leben sprühenden Augen auf Peter’s im Jahre 1829 gemalten Bilde der damals jungen Künstlerin und dessen Original, Frau Betty Bogner, in späteren Jahren demselben gegenüber sitzen sah, der konnte an die Möglichkeit einer solchen Metamorphose durch die Zeit kaum glauben” (“With cynical self-irony, she carried her gender as a curse through life, in conflict with the world and in struggle with nature, which seemed to take revenge on such defiance. Whoever saw and compared the beautiful features, the noble, oval face, the spirited and sparkling eyes in Peter's 1829 paintings of the then young artist, against the original Mrs. Betty Bogner in later years, could hardly believe such a metamorphosis over time”; Littrow-Bischoff, 1880, p. 3).

    Barabara Fröhlich died on June 30th, 1879 in Vienna.


    Even though Barbara Fröhlich was ascribed the highest musical and especially vocal talent in her youth, its seems she put aside her music making in favour of her work as a painter. In her time as a singer, she received great recognition. She was apparently able to spontaneously take over the role of Cherubino in Mozart's ‘Le nozze di Figaro’ (Sauer, 1895, p. 227). At the same time, she worked as a painter and drawing teacher. Although several works can be attributed to her, it is well known that she completed and/or copied many of her teacher Moritz Michael Daffinger’s works without credit, as was customary at that time.

    Barbara Fröhlich is described as the “most difficult” of the Fröhlich sisters and lived at times in discord with her sisters. It is also reported that in her pursuit of independence, she was more like her mother and that she stood out from her sisters as an unconventional woman for her time (Littrow-Bischoff, 1880, pp. 1-3).


    Barbara Fröhlich's appearances as a singer were well received by the press. After her marriage in 1825, she was referred to as a painter and drawing teacher, albeit only in connection with her sisters.

    Like her sisters, Barbara Fröhlich is mentioned in fiction and popular literature (see especially literary reception under Anna Fröhlich, Katharina Fröhlich)

    An essay was dedicated to Barbara Fröhlich: A[uguste] von Littrow-Bischoff, Von Vieren die Letzte. In: Neue Freie Presse Nr. 5794. 13. Oktober 1880.

    List of works

    Barbara Fröhlich (married name Bogner) immortalized her family members in drawings and paintings:

    Josephine Fröhlich. Lithographische Skizze (In: Deutsch 1913, S. 297).

    Katharina Fröhlich. Lithographische Skizze (In: Deutsch 1913, S. 298; Hilmar 1989, S. 66).

    Mathias Fröhlich 1824.

    Wilhelm Bogner.

    Further artworks by Barbara Fröhlich (married name Bogner):


    Amor in eine Hütte tretend.

    Die heilige Familie, Miniatur nach Raphael Mengs, 1830.

    Grillparzer, 1821.

    Karl Holzer.

    Polizeiarzt Dr. A. Emmering, 1830.


    Before her marriage in 1825, Barbara Fröhlich worked as an opera singer. In addition to individual arias by contemporary composers, she also sang roles in Mozart operas and was familiar with the Baroque repertoire. Over the years 1816-1824, at least 45 appearances are documented, often in ensemble numbers at the ‘Abend-Unterhaltungen’ [evening entertainments] at the ‘Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde’ in Vienna, as well as at Raphael Georg Kiesewetter’s house concerts. She usually performed with her sister Anna (see Blaha, 2002, Zeittafel, pp. 31-36).

    Of particular note is the following appearance:

    January 9th, 1822 at the Sonnleithner family house; Barbara Fröhlich participated in a performance of Franz Schubert’s ‘Psalm 23’ D 706 (see Anna Fröhlich).



    For more sources and literature, see Anna Fröhlich, but also Katharina Fröhlich and Josephine Fröhlich.

    A Documents by Barbara Fröhlich (Bogner)

    Letters in the Vienna Library

    B Sources (chronological 1816-1964)

    Wiener Moden-Zeitschrift und Zeitschrift für Kunst, schöne Literatur und Theater 56. 12. Oktober 1816. S. 536.

    [Castelli, Ignaz Franz]. „Tagebuch aus Wien (Fortsetzung)“. In: Dresdner Abend-Zeitung Nr. 32, 6. Februar 1824. S. 128.

    Monatbericht der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde des Oesterreichischen Kaiserstaates. Wien: Haslinger, 1829. V. S. 69 und XII. S. 188.

    Bernsdorf, Eduard. Neues Universal-Lexikon der Tonkunst: für Künstler, Kunstfreunde und alle Gebildeten. Band 2. Dresden: Schaefer, 1857.

    Pohl, Carl Ferdinand. Die Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde des Österreichischen Kaiserstaates und ihr Conservatorium. Wien: W. Braumüller, 1871.

    Littrow-Bischoff, A[uguste] von. „Von Vieren die Letzte“. In: Neue Freie Presse Nr. 5794. 13. Oktober 1880. S. 1-3.

    Breuning, Gerhard von. „Aus Grillparzers Wohnung“. In: Neue Freie Presse Nr. 7266. 19. November 1884. S. 1-3 und Neue Freie Presse Nr. 7267. 20. November 1884. S. 1-4.

    Führer durch die Ausstellung im Neuen Rathhause zur Feier des 100. Geburtstages Franz Grillparzers (15. Januar 1891). Nr. 5. Wien: Verlag des Gemeinderaths-Präsidiums, 1891.

    Sauer, August. „Grillparzer und Katharina Fröhlich“. In: Jahrbuch der Grillparzer-Gesellschaft 5. 1895. S. 219-292.

    Schubert-Ausstellung der K.K. Reichshaupt- und Residenzstadt Wien: verbunden mit einer Ausstellung von Werken der Maler Moritz v. Schwind, Josef Danhauser und Leopold Kupelwieser. Wien: Künstlerhaus, 1897.

    Deutsch, Otto Erich. Franz Schubert. Sein Leben in Bildern. Zweite Auflage. Die Dokumente seines Lebens und Schaffens. Dritter Band. München: Georg Müller, 1913.

    Deutsch, Otto Erich. Schubert. Die Erinnerungen seiner Freunde. Leipzig 1957. Unveränderter Nachdruck der Auflage. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1983.

    Deutsch, Otto Erich. Schubert. Die Dokumente seines Lebens gesammelt und erläutert von Otto Erich Deutsch. Franz Schubert. Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke. Serie VIII: Supplement. Band 5. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1964.

    C Secondary Literature (chronological)

    Kier, Herfrid. Raphael Georg Kiesewetter (1883-1850). Wegbereiter des musikalischen Historismus. Regensburg: Bosse, 1968.

    Hilmar, Ernst. Schubert. Graz: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 1989.

    Clive, Peter. Schubert and His World. A Biographical Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997. S. 50-54.

    Hilmar, Ernst und Margret Jestremski (Hg.). Schubert-Lexikon. Graz: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 1997.

    Blaha, Johanna. Die Schwestern Fröhlich. Dissertation Universität Wien. 2002.

    Boisits, Barbara. Fröhlich, Schwestern. In: Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon. Rudolf Flotzinger (Hg.). Band 1. Wien: Verl. der Österr. Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2002. S. 498-499.

    Waidelich, Till Gerrit. „Fröhlich, Familie“. In: MGG Personenteil 7. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2002. Sp. 189-190.

    Hilmar, Ernst und Margret Jestremski (Hg.). Schubert-Enzyklopädie. Band 1. Tutzing: Schneider, 2004.

    Schmidt-Liebich, Jochen. Lexikon der Künstlerinnen, 1700-1900: Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz. München: K.G: Saur, 2005.

    D Pictures

    Emanuel Thomas Peter. Betty Bogner. 1829 Wienmuseum. Deutsch 1913, S. 297.

    Group picture with the sisters, left to right:

    Betty, Katharina, Anna

    Unspecified newspaper clipping http://www.bildarchivaustria.at/Bildarchiv//711/B7908813T7908818.jpg

    Betty, Josephine, Katharina

    Hans Temple (1857-1931), Eine Schubertiade bei Ritter von Spaun - Holzstich nach einer Fotografie von V. A. Heck nach einem Gemälde von Hans Temple (um 1890). Original verschollen. Reproduziert in: A. Bär u. a. (Hg.). Bildersaal deutscher Geschichte, Stuttgart Berlin Leipzig, 1890 und Bühne und Welt 9. 1907. Hilmar 1989, S. 62. Beethoven-Haus Bonn.


    dasselbe als „Franz Schubert am Klavier, und sein Freundeskreis im Jahre 1826“. Heliogravure von J. Blechinger nach einem Gemälde von Hans Temple.


    Katharina, Sophie Müller, Anna, Barbara, Josephine Fröhlich:

    Julius Schmid. Ein Schubert-Abend in einem Wiener Bürgerhause. Ölgemälde (entstanden 1897, anl. Schuberts 100. Geburtstag). Original: Wiener Schubertbund. Hilmar 1989, S. 193, Vorstudie (Kohlezeichnung) Hilmar 1989, S. 63.

    Franz Schubert, Josephine und vermutl. Barbara und Katharina Fröhlich

    Hans Schließmann. Zeichnung. Wienmuseum. Hilmar 1989, S. 56 „Schubert begleitet die Schwestern Fröhlich am Klavier“.

    more on Sources less on Sources


    Barbara Fröhlich, like her sister Katharina Fröhlich, features comparatively little in contemporary research on the sisters. Anna Fröhlich and Josephine Fröhlich, and their connection to Franz Schubert and his circle of friends, are of central interest as musicians and music teachers that were active over many years. Barbara Fröhlich chose to pursue a life of painting instead of music. In as early as 1880, Auguste von Littrow-Bischoff drew attention to Barbara Fröhlich's undervalued and underrepresented role (see Littrow-Bischoff 1880).

    Need for research

    The question as to why Barbara gave up singing and making music – something she did with great talent and success from an early age, has yet to be investigated. Similarly, there is no systematic catalogue or discussion of her musical activity. It would be worth investigating to what extent Barbara Fröhlich, even as the only one of the sisters to have married and therefore seen as "difficult" in the eyes of her sisters, differed from her sisters in her views on life. Perhaps she had a particularly unconventional life model for the time? Where exactly lay the potential for conflict? After all, she had to balance work, marriage and family life, where the strong influence, if not interference, of her three sisters did not always have a positive effect. Considering these influences and interactions, Barbara Fröhlich and her unique artistic personality could benefit from a fresh account worthy of her talent.


    Virtual International Authority File (VIAF): 80419313
    Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (GND): 136000649


    Ingeborg Harer


    Redaktion: Silke Wenzel
    Zuerst eingegeben am 12.12.2015
    Zuletzt bearbeitet am 17.04.2018

    Empfohlene Zitierweise

    Ingeborg Harer, Artikel „Barbara Fröhlich“, in: MUGI. Musikvermittlung und Genderforschung: Lexikon und multimediale Präsentationen, hg. von Beatrix Borchard und Nina Noeske, Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, 2003ff. Stand vom 17.4.2018
    URL: http://mugi.hfmt-hamburg.de/artikel/Barbara_Fröhlich