Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
Print version ISSN 0041-4751
VAN DER MESCHT, Heinrich. The context of the Royal Academy of Music in Munich and its South African born students, 1902-1909: Mabel Wuesto, Vera de Villiers, Daisy Bosman and Irma Lohner. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2012, vol.52, n.3, pp. 451-471. ISSN 0041-4751.
The yearbooks of the Königliche Akademie der Tonkunst (Royal Academy of Music) in Munich show that there were four South African born women who studied at the Academy in the early 20th century between 1902 and 1909. The concept of "place " is the point of departure for this article. According to Beard and Gloag in their Musicology: The Key Concepts (2005:131-132) this concept "has gained importance as a result of the relativism of postmodern theories." Beard and Gloag regard "identity", "gender", "ethnicity", "race" and "subjectivity" as other concepts which can be taken into consideration when working with the concept of "place ". This comes about as a result of these concepts'discursive and reflexive relationship with "place". The article focuses on the developing identity (musical or otherwise) of the South African born students in the context of the Königliche Akademie der Tonkunst, which from 1892 had been the continuation of the Königliche Musikschule (the Royal School of Music). The most important questions raised by the concept of "place" are the following: What was the influence that the "place", with its specific social circumstances, had on its inhabitants? And what was the role certain inhabitants of the "place" played in the lives of other inhabitants of the "place"? More specifically: What influence did the place (Munich) and the institution (the Royal Academy of Music) have on the South African students? What were the circumstances and who were the lecturers andfellow students they were exposed to? Therefore: What was the context in which they studied? It is clear that the Royal Academy of Music in Munich was a conservative institution. For example, a strict distinction was made between male andfemale students. The different sexes had to use different stairs in the building, and classes were presented as far as possible in separate groups. The Academy consisted of three sections: the Preparatory School, the Higher Female Section, and the "Hochschule" for male students (called "the real Academy"). The most important sources are the yearbooks which have appeared annually since 1875 (available in the Bavarian State Library and the archive of the present Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich) and the volumes containing student reports from the academic year 1900/1901 onwards (archive of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater). From these volumes more personal information can be gleaned. Unfortunately, there are no personal letters to or from the authorities ofthe Academy available (like there are ofthe Hochschule in Berlin). A set ofessays was compiled by Schmitt, Geschichte der Hochschule für Musik und Theater München von den Anfangen bis 1945 (History of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Münchenfrom the beginning until 1945). In this book (2005), Bernd Edelmann covers the period 1874-1914. The 16-year-old Mabel Wuesto, born in Kimberley in 1885, enrolled at the Preparatory School in 1902for her studies in violin playing with Franz Drechsler. She is the first South African born student included in the volumes of student reports. After studying at the Preparatory School for about two and a half years, she was accepted into the Higher Female Section, but terminated her studies in 1904. In September 1902, Vera de Villiers from Pretoria started studying the piano with Martin Krause (1853-1918) who later became the teacher (at the Stern Conservatorium in Berlin) of the famous pianists Edwin Fischer and Claudio Arrau. She was 22 years old and stayed until 1904. Daisy Bosman had an extraordinary life. She grew up in Bloemfontein after having been in a concentration camp at Kroonstad during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). Her husband, Jacques (a brother of the eccentric pianist Bosman di Ravelli who claimed to have studied at the Music Conservatorium in Leipzig), was a prisoner of war in Admednagar in India and studied art in Munich. The 27-year-old Daisy's teacher for singing between 1906 and 1908 was Bernhard Günzburger, who ten years earlier had taught Jeannie Muller from Graaff Reinet. Daisy Bosman later became a champion of the Afrikaans art song. Before the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, she left South Africa in February 1939for Germany with her husband and ill daughter, Maxie, who had studied singing at the Academy between 1931 and 1933. Jacques and Maxie Bosman soon passed away. It is not certain when and where in Europe Daisy Bosman died during World War II. Born in Pretoria on 18 February 1885, Irma Lohner gave Munich as her home city when she started her singing studies with Günzburger in April 1907. She changed her teacher to Bianca Bianchi-Pollini from the academic year 1907/1908 and studied until February 1909. In the reports, students were awarded marks between 1 and 3. The South African born students received good marks for their studies and never attained less than a 1 for their conduct. At the student concerts in the Königliche Akademie der Tonkunst, the South African born pupils were exposed to a wide variety of fellow students. Other concerts were given by the excellent teachers or visiting artists. The place Munich as a centre of music offered many other attractions, like the opera houses. These circumstances would have had a tremendous influence on the developing artistic identity of the students. Further research is needed on the ensuing lives of these four women in order to determine how they conveyed to their communities the extensive impressions and experiences they had gathered in Munich.
Keywords : Daisy Bosman; context; Vera de Villiers; identity; Königliche Akademie der Tonkunst in Munich; Irma Lohner; the concept "place"; Royal Academy of Music in Munich; South African music students; Mabel Wuesto.