Luella Totten
Luella totten 1895

Full name

Luella Totten

Alternative names

Louis von Heinrich[1]

Presence at Shimer


Presence on Earth



Academy period faculty

Luella Totten taught instrumental music at Shimer College in 1894 and again from 1896 to 1898, in the late Seminary and early Academy periods.

Totten had trained under William Sherwood of Chicago, who was closely associated with the Seminary. She subsequently studied for three years in Europe.

Totten was an extremely popular instructor and performer in Mount Carroll. Around 1896, she began an intense affair with her musical partner, Shimer alum Harry Haldeman, a member of the extended Hostetter family who was also serving at the time as mayor of Girard, Kansas. Kept secret for a time, their affair became common knowledge among the students and faculty in the spring of 1898. William Parker McKee waited until she had left on a year's leave of absence that summer before terminating her position with the Academy.

In addition to playing music, Totten also composed, giving a concert that included her own compositions at the Academy on January 10, 1898. After her relationship with Shimer ended, she began studying composition at Yale in 1899, obtaining a prestigious scholarship in 1900 and completing her bachelor of music the same year.

Totten took a position with the Michigan Conservatory of Music in Detroit in 1908, but it does not seem to have lasted, as she was living in Berlin in 1909.

Shimer connectionsEdit


  • in Annual Calendar of the Frances Shimer Academy, 1898, p. 2:
    Luella Totten, Instructor in Instrumental Music
    Trained under W.H. Sherwood of Chicago, and three years' study in Europe by Klindwort of Berlin and Leschetiszky of Vienna.
  • in University of Chicago annual register, 1898:
    Luella Totten, Instructor in Instrumental Music
    Trained under W.H. Sherwood of Chicago, and three years' study in Europe by Klindwort of Berlin and Leschetiszky of Vienna; Instructor, Mt. Carroll Seminary, 1894; Frances Shimer Academy of the University of Chicago, 1896–.
  • in Looker-On, Vol. 1, 1895, pp. 659-660:
    The young girl with whom this sketch deals, is about twenty years of age. She is petite, and possesses a pretty figure. Her face expresses her capacity for enthusiasm, and tells its story of her love for the ideal and the beautiful. Her personality betokens womanly dignity. This latter quality of dignity, together with her enthusiasm for all that is worthy, is perhaps the secret of her magnetism.
    Since very early childhood she has devoted many hours a day to the mastery of piano technique. Her progress in the study of music was so rapid that, at the age of twelve, she was known as a "prodigy." She played much in public, receiving the praise of the New York papers for her performances. The wisdom of her parents, however, and her own strong desire for improvement, put an end to these early appearances. The time since then has been spent in hard and unremitting practice and study. Her education in this country was conducted by Mr. William Sherwood. Having received from him all that could be gained here, he advised her to continue her studies abroad. She accordingly went to Europe, and studied under several of the most famous European masters. The atmosphere of art and endeavor which prevails abroad had great effect in training and directing her talents. In such an atmosphere Miss Totten has spent a number of years. Having finished her studies abroad, and having made such progress as to merit her teacher's approval, she has come to New York. While practising during this winter, she is preparing herself for her debut, which is to be made in the fall. She will probably be assisted on that occasion either by Seidl or the Damrosch orchestra. The piece that Miss Totten will play is the Grieg concerto. She has had the advantage of instruction in this selection from Grieg himself. During this summer Miss Totten desires to make arrangements for a concert tour in the fall (after the début), in company with a violinist and vocalist. Her time will also be open for individual concert engagements. There is every reason to believe that her superior technique will win her an immediate success.
  • in "Won Steinert Premium", New Haven Register, 1900-10-19:

Miss Luella Totten of Pittsburg, Pa., was today announced as the winnter of the Steinert scholarship of the musical department at Yale University. The scholarship is worth $150 per year. Miss Totten came here last June to study composition under the direction of Prof. Sanford of the Yale musical department. She had previously made a reputation as a piano artist in Europe, and came to Yale merely for the purpose of studying composition. She was induced to try for the scholarship prize for piano playing, and was successful. Miss Totten will continue to attend the Yale musical school, taking up the course she started out to pursue. She played from Bach in the competition for the scholarship. Miss Totten did most of her studying at Vienna, where she was under the charge of several eminent instructors. Miss Totten's father is connected with the Carnegie iron works at Pittsburg.


  • in "Amusements", Inter-Ocean, 1890-03-27:
    The musical part introduced [...] Miss Luella Totten and Mr. Sherwood with Carl Reinecke's impromptu for two pianos on Schumann's "Manfred." Miss Totten proved to be a brilliant young pianist, her work characterized by great delicacy and feeling as well as by considerable power.
  • in "Mt. Carroll", Register-Gazette, 1898-01-13:
    There is no doubt but the piano recital given by Miss Totten last evening was the finest thing of the kind ever given here. Miss Totten ranks with the best artists in the United States. She played one of her own compositions and Mrs. Jacobs sang three of her beautiful little songs. When Miss Totten plays it is to interpret the author. Her rendering of the Minuet by Beethoven was simply perfect.
  • in letter from McKee to Harper regarding the issue of Miss Totten
  • in "Personal Mention", Pittsburgh Press, 1908-08-12:
    Miss Luella Totten, who has been visiting her brother and sister-in-law-, Mr. and MRs. R.M. Totten, and their home in Bryant street, is this week the guest of her sister, Mrs. John Christie Munn, in Detroit. Miss Totten is a pianist and composer of more than ordinary merit and is at present at work upon an opera. She is known professionally as Louis von Heinrich.

Further inquiryEdit

  • Date of death, parentage
  • Difficult to disentangle Pittsburgh, PA from Pittsburg, KS
  • Details of subsequent and previous careers

Works citedEdit

  • The Selected Papers of Jane Addams. 2002. OCLC 48013768. 


  1. "Personal Mention". Pittsburgh Press. 1908-08-12.,2311975. 

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