Early pioneer life challenged even the strongest. Through persistence and perseverance, three North Dakota women took the grit they gained from their pioneer childhood into the world.
Pianists Belle and Alma Mehus pursued piano studies in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Berlin, under the tutelage of legendary pianists Josef Lhevinne, Moriz Rosenthal, and Adele aus der Ohe. Concert and Chautauqua tours took them across America and across the ocean.
Anne-Marit Bergstrom absorbed lessons of music and life from her mother Alma and aunt Belle and continued their journey. As a coloratura soprano she studied with famed Russian mezzo-soprano Jennie Tourel, and as a painter with renowned artists Stokely Webster and Oskar Kokoschka.
Life’s beautifully complicated road led all three women back to the Dakota prairie, where, surrounded by the love and warmth of family and friends, they dedicated their lives to teaching, performing, and community involvement. Their story provides timeless inspiration.
LaWayne Leno, author of the acclaimed biography The Untold Story of Adele aus der Ohe, was born and raised in rural North Dakota where he studied piano with Belle Mehus and Alma Mehus Studness. He completed his education at the University of Mary in Bismarck. Leno currently resides in Dellwood, Minnesota.