Barbara Helsingius

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Barbara Helsingius-Koski
Personal information
Birth nameBarbara Christina Elisabeth Helsingius
Born27 September 1937
Helsinki, Finland
Died9 March 2017(2017-03-09) (aged 79)[1]
Espoo, Finland[2]
Spouse(s)Henry William Koski; 2 daughters

Barbara Christina Elisabeth Helsingius-Koski (née Helsingius; 27 September 1937 – 9 March 2017) was a Swedish-speaking Finnish singer, poet, and Olympic fencer.[3]


She participated at the 1960 Summer Olympics in foil fencing.[4] Trained as a gym teacher, she took her masters in pedagogy at Stanford University (1963). Interested in American art and folk music, she began to record, and her first release, Barbara (1966), was a collection of American folk songs, translated to Finnish.[3]

She became well known internationally, and was a member of Visens venner [no] in Norway, of Visans Vänner [sv] in Helsinki, and Yrkestrubadurernas Förening [sv] in Sweden, part of the Svenska visakademien [sv] (1999; its only Finn),[5] and the joint Nordic cultural organisation NordVisa [sv].[citation needed]

From 1968–1975, she lived in Oslo with her husband, Henry William "Hank" Koski, a diplomat at the U.S. embassy. She was the mother of two daughters. Her family lives in Espoo, Finland.[3]


Helsingius died following a long illness on 9 March 2017 in Espoo, Finland at the age of 79.[6]


  • Hambestipendiet [sv], Sweden (1989)
  • Norsk-finsk kulturpris (1993)
  • Nils Ferlin-prisen, (Sweden; 1994)
  • Trubadurprisen (1994)
  • NordVisa-statuetten ("Liv"; 1995)
  • Pro Cultura, Espoo, Finland (1995)


  • Vill du visor min vän? ISBN 9789515001726
  • Kanske en visa (Schildts) ISBN 9789515004727
  • Eino Leino, sångarens visa, poetry collection
  • Songs Finland Sings, Warner/Chappel Music Finland (2000) OCLC 53063325


  • Barbara (1966; American folk songs in Finnish)
  • Det var en gång (1977; own songs)
  • Olipa kerran (1978; Finnish version of the above)
  • Speiling (1981; Finnish songs in Norwegian)
  • Barbaras blandade (1981; own songs)
  • Kahlaajatyttö (1982; musical settings of the Finnish poets Aale Tynni and Aila Meriluoto)
  • Fra Barbara med kjærlighet (1982; Finnish songs in Norwegian)
  • Reflection. Songs from Finland (1984; Finnish songs in English)
  • Drøm og bekjennelse (1986; her own and Finnish songs in Norwegian)
  • Spegling (1986; Finnish-Swedish songs)
  • Rakkaudella (1986; Finnish version of above)
  • Tuulen niityillä (1992; Nordic songs in Finnish)
  • Sånt är vårt liv (1996; own and Finnish songs in Swedish)
  • Songs Finland Sings (2002; double CD of Finnish poems and songs, classics and songs which she translated to English. Contains 30 artists, including the Serena choir)


  1. ^ Gustafsson, Lars: Barbara Helsingius har dött – vi minns den mörka altrösten,, 9 March 2017. (in Swedish)
  2. ^ Death notice, in Helsingin Sanomat, 8 April 2017, p. C 20.
  3. ^ a b c Helsingius, Barbara. Biografiskt lexikon för Finland. Accessed 10 March 2017. (in Swedish)
  4. ^ Barbara Helsingius at Accessed 10 March 2017.
  5. ^ Helsingius, Barbara in Uppslagsverket Finland. Accessed 25 March 2017. (in Swedish)
  6. ^ "Laulaja Barbara Helsingius on kuollut" (in Finnish). Ilta-Sanomat. 9 March 2017. Archived from the original on 9 March 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017.