Obituary: Inge Henderson
Thursday 17 September 1992
Inge Henderson was a teacher of the Alexander Technique, working particularly with musicians, in England and abroad for nearly 30 years.
She was born in Innsbruck, the second daughter of Baron Frederick von Scheye Koromla, a writer from a Jewish legal and banking family, and Annie Schindler, a leading classical actress with the Burgteater before the First World War, who was Alma Mahler's cousin. Inge grew up among writers and musicians, speaking German, English, French and Italian. Her parents parted and in 1932 her mother, unhappy with the rigidities of rank and worried by the rise of Nazism, took the three children first to Italy and France and then to England to be educated.
Inge qualified as a dietician, then met Bill Henderson, an architect, and they married in 1940. He was sent almost at once to the Middle East for four and a half years. Inge meanwhile began to study medicine at Oxford, then worked for the US army as a lab technician. In the late Forties her daughters Tessa and Kathy were born. She had always sung and when she was able to visit Austria again for the first time she began to study singing more seriously. For some years she would visit Austria for lessons, though she found it hard to combine a singing career with her home life. In London she continued to collect people round her, half adopting other children and filling the house with music and musicians.
In the early Fifties she met Bill and Marjorie Barlow and discovered the Alexander Technique, a way of making people aware of what they are doing wrong with their bodies so they needn't do it, releasing muscles that are unnecessarily stressed and distorted. At first Inge went for help with problems she had discovered singing and playing the violin, and later took her daughters for lessons. After an operation for osteomyelitis, Tessa was enabled by Bill Barlow to walk without a limp in defiance of medical opinion. Inge began training with Marjorie Barlow as an Alexander teacher in the early Sixties. In 1963, she and Bill Henderson were divorced.
The careers she had begun in medicine and music fed into this new work. She broke new ground in finding ways of bringing the technique to musicians. In the Seventies she spent summers at the musical festival at Barga in Italy, living in a tent and workirg with the opera-singers. More recently she worked with the choral scholars at Eton and King's. She taught non-musicians too, and in several countries, so that she was able to combine her knowledge of languages and love of travel with her work. And teaching drew on her enormous energy and love of people.
A brilliant teacher, she was always wanting to learn. She saved lives. She slid down banisters. She went trekking in Katmandu. Something of the use she could make of Alexander, and her own spirit: though terminally ill she wanted to be in the open air and till five days before she died she was camping in an orchard in Norfolk. She'll stay present to her pupils, of whom I was one, for a long time in their sense of their own bodies. She was an adventurous and generous woman.
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