• Book, first published 2011


    Sheila Braggins
    The Mystery behind the Voice, une biographie d'Alfred Wolfsohn

The Mystery behind the Voice is a biography of Alfred Wolfsohn – singing teacher, guru and philosopher. The loss of his singing voice as a result of shell-shock in the First World War catapulted Wolfsohn into a lifelong exploration of the human voice. He became a pioneering voice teacher, working in Germany in the 1930s and in London from 1947 to 1962.

Wolfsohn saw the voice as the most revealing part of the human psyche and, in developing his philosophy, he embraced art, creativity, dream, self understanding and our concepts of a saviour and God. His unique ideas, in many ways ahead of their time, are fully explored in this book, with extensive use of original material from Wolfsohn’s own writing.

As a singing teacher, Wolfsohn ignored the constraints of gender and extended the ranges of both male and female voices. Sheila was one of his pupils and experienced his ideas and teaching first-hand, making her well able to describe their incredible impact.
Wolfsohn also had a profound influence on Charlotte Salomon, the young Jewish artist killed at Auschwitz, whose unique paintings have been exhibited worldwide, and on Roy Hart, his most experienced pupil, who went on to found the internationally known Roy Hart Theatre Company.

Wolfsohn’s life and legacy constitute this well-researched book. Using the author’s personal insight to explore this largely neglected life, The Mystery behind the Voice will appeal to anyone interested in the voice in particular, the human being in general, and existing admirers of Wolfsohn. “I wanted to write a tribute to the teacher who has had a lifelong influence on me and whose ideas and life-story I saw fascinating audiences whenever I lectured,” says Sheila on her inspiration for the book.

This book is currently out of print. However used copies do sometimes become available in online bookstores and copies are available for consultation on-site in Malérargues in the chateau library or in “La Mémoire” the Roy Hart Centre archives. The archives are available for consultation to students, teachers, and researchers of the voice work upon request to custodian Carol Mendelsohn.

Sheila Baggins

Sheila Baggins
was a pupil of Alfred Wolfsohn’s for 15 years, exploring the range and expression of the human voice. During her physiotherapy career, an understanding of the voice remained crucial to her understanding of patients. Sheila has lectured extensively on Wolfsohn at international conferences and until the end of her life maintained a four-octave vocal range.