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My grandparents


Margarethe Schell von Noé

… was born on June 2nd, 1905 and died on November 11th, 1995. She was a young and talented actress, but sacrificed her career for her husband and their four children. Eventually, she found her way back into acting and became an acting coach. Omutti was the one who raised me, she was the best grandmother in the whole world and a woman with a heart of gold.


Hermann Ferdinand Schell

… was born on June 19th, 1900 and died on January 1st, 1972. He was a Swiss writer and wrote poetry, prose and theatre plays almost obsessively. Even though he was a renowned author, he wasn’t as successful as he had wished for. While the relationship with my mother was rather tense, the one with Maximilian was close.



My great-grandparents



Elisabeth “Elsa” Noé von Nordberg, née Rotter (1879 – 1937)

… was a famous harpist and student of Anton Bruckner. Rumour has it that she was able to play a score by heart after only having read it once before. In still medieval times for women’s rights, she was not allowed to play with the philharmonic orchestra, a male domain back then. The highly talented and bipolar musician met my grandfather in the psychiatric ward.


Karl Noé von Nordberg (Karl IV, 1873-1951)

… was a renowned psychiatrist and directed a sanatorium. He is said to be a very affectionate and sweet-tempered man. But I’d rather not imagine what “ordinary” psychiatry consisted of back then…



My great-great-grandparents (Austria)



Karl Emil Rotter (father of Elsa, 1850 – 1895)

… was the first Kapellmeister of the Court Opera House in Vienna, which today is the Vienna State Opera, and in touch with the most famous musicians of his time. Supposedly, he melted down the family silver to take pictures of the composer Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886). These unpublished pictures are still owned by the family. At the age of 45, he died from the consequences of a penny farthing bicycle accident.


Fanni Noé von Nordberg (mother of Karl IV, 1846 – 1888)

… was verifiably the first actress of the family, but even more so a revolutionary of her times. She raised her eight children alone on an estate in what today is Slovenia while her husband, a major, swung the lead in Vienna. At the age of 42, she died in agony of pemphigus. She has all my respect.


A little jazzy digression:


Harry von Noé (Fanni’s grandson, 1907 – 1998)

… was a maestro and pianist. He was a pianist in Jaroslav Ježek’s orchestra and an associate professor at the conservatory in Vienna from 1945 until 1977. He’s known for recording the solo of Ježek’s most famous composition Bugatti Step on one of the first gramophone record recordings that came into being in the 1930s.


Karl Noé von Nordberg (Karl III, 1836 – 1905)

… was a major and lieutenant colonel in Vienna, Fanni’s husband and the father of eight. In 1886, he retired from the military and worked as a mailman. Two years after that, he was a widower and had to take care of his children by himself.


Karl Gustav Adolf Noé von Nordberg (Karl II, 1798 – 1885; father of Karl III)

… was the chief of police in Vienna. He received his title thanks to his work for the emperor. He also worked for the German-Austrian politician Metternich and is mentioned in poet and dramatist Friedrich Hebbel’s diaries.



My great- and great-great-grandparents (Switzerland)



Anna (née Holdener, 1879 – 1956) and Ferdinand Schell (1871 – 1904) (parents of Hermann Ferdinand)

… Ferdinand, a handsome chorister, died at the age of 33, leaving behind Anna shortly after the birth of their second child.


Hermann Schell (1850 – 1906, Ferdinand’s cousin)

… was a theologian, philosopher and professor for apologetics. A suspected modernist, he was a hundred years ahead of his time. In 1898, his reform scriptures were banned by the Vatican and put on the list of prohibited books, the Index Librorum Prohibitorium, which was abolished in 1966. Nevertheless, the Schell family theologian hasn’t been rehabilitated up to this day. He is an ancestor of great importance, whose discovery coined me in a very special way.


Fridolin Holdener (Anna’s father, 1838 – 1932)

… came from a humble background in Central Switzerland. Despite his bad hip, he travelled to Paris on foot to learn how to make clothes at the age of 14. Back home, he became a renowned tailor and entrepreneur. By the way: the Holdener family has close ties to the famous Stauffacher family, which means that we are descendants of the freedom fighters who founded Switzerland - William Tell salutes you!