Chapter 2: German musicians in London

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During the late Medieval and early modern period England experienced foreign immigration on a very significant scale. Thousands crossed the Channel to settle in this country, the majority of them in London where foreign communities were established. The immigrants’ activities were varied: foreign courtiers surrounded royalty, foreign merchants and financiers had a part to play in the commerce of the capital, and foreign craftsmen and artisans introduced new techniques which brought them both profit and prestige. Some of them maintained themselves in exclusive quarters and displayed their wealth in an ostentatious and arrogant fashion – to the chagrin of the natives.[1]

Germans have resided in Britain almost throughout its history, whether as immigrants or refugees. During the eighteenth century a significant community of Germans was established in London. Those who came built on existing networks of religious, political and economic interest, expanding on the settlement already established. They came for varying reasons: after the Naturalization Act of 1709, many protestants, such as the Palatines, came to seek a living, along with religious freedom, protection and refuge, away from the many confessional struggles taking place in Continental Europe. Others sought political or intellectual freedom; others came to learn or to advise about industry, whilst others like the sugar-bakers, came to work where there was a market niche.[2]

An additional reason for the more general immigration of Germans to England during the century was the Hanoverian succession, whereby the Electors of Hanover ascended to the British throne in 1714 and continued as sovereigns until 1837. The personal entourage of the Kings was perceived by some to be ‘entirely of Germans’, and German troops were used in the service of England. Britain offered Germans a wider field for their activities, so the Hanoverian Georges brought with them, or in their wake, talented artists, musicians, and learned men (including scientists), as well as financiers like the Rothchilds, who set up international banking houses in London.[3]  However, the most significant attraction for German travellers was almost certainly the increasing economic prosperity in

[1] Pettegree, ‘Thirty years on’, p.297; Nicholson, Strangers, pp.7-8; Ashton, Little Germany, viii; Wellenreuther, ‘Recent Research’, pp.293 -294
[2] Panayi, ‘Germans in Britain’s history’, pp.1,11;O’Reilly, ‘Naturalization Act’, pp.492-493; Statt, ‘Controversy’,pp.20 -21; Holmes, John Bull’s Island, pp. 5 -7; Panayi, ‘Germans in Britain’s history, p.6
[3] Panayi, German immigrants, p.19; Ashton, Little Germany, vii
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England, and nowhere more so than in the capital. London had become Europe’s most vibrant commercial centre, where opportunities for enterprise and entrepreneurship abounded, and was an important hub of growing Atlantic trade.[4]

It is not possible to establish the exact number of Germans living in Britain during the eighteenth century, because of the absence of census data. However, Jefcoate cites one credible estimate which suggests that there may have been about 16,000 to 20,000 Germans in London by the end of the eighteenth century – the equivalent of a medium-size contemporary German town. Figures for the 1851 census, the first reliable figure, reveal 9,566 residents of London as having been born in Germany, but this of course is not taking into account any second generation immigrants.  (The first census which counted immigrants on a nation-wide scale was that of 1861, when there were 28,644 Germans in England and Wales – the largest continental grouping in the country.) Whatever the exact numbers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it is clear that German immigrants were a significant presence in London, and a force to be reckoned with.[5]

German musicians were part of that force.  The employment of foreign musicians was not new: it had taken place for centuries, and was an inevitable consequence of the system of patronage.  Patrons were keen to win a reputation for culture and excellence, so sought to obtain the best musicians that money could buy, putting artistic excellence before patriotism. In the English court  the influx of musicians from abroad was intensified by the presence of foreign Queens, each of whom was served by performers from her own country.[6]

In the eighteenth century Europe saw an emergence of the public as a major cultural force. Whereas at the beginning of the century there had been few public concerts, little music published, and music of the serious kind had been confined to the uppermost ranks of society, as the century advanced there was a shift brought about by the purchasing power of a ‘consumer-hungry society’. Music became less of an expensive rarity, and became a popular commodity for everyday consumption. As printing techniques improved, the cost of sheet music was reduced and the market widened. Music became no longer ‘the monopoly of nobles and connoisseurs’, but became ‘an integral part of the burgeoning culture

[4] Jefcoate, ‘German immigrants’,pp.503-504
[5] Jefcoate, ‘German immigrants’,pp.503-504; London Metropolitan Archives, ‘Information Leaflet 17’, p.1; Panayi, ‘The Settlement of Germans’,
[6] Ehrlich, Music Profession, p.16; Polk, ‘Innovation’, pp.202 -205; Westrup, ‘Foreign musicians’, p.70
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of the middle classes’.[7]

Opportunities for foreign musicians in England increased in part because entry to the profession was determined solely by free competition: there were no national or guild regulations which prevented the foreigners from entering the country or trade to find remunerative and prestigious musical employment. As early as 1720, when the Italian Opera was founded in London, English musicians and observers of the music scene frowned upon the number of foreign musicians employed in England and the exorbitant fees they commanded.[8]

Another reason which contributed to the migration of German musicians to England was that at the beginning of the century ‘English music was at a low ebb’, while ‘Germany was ripe for musical export’ as ‘music had permeated every corner of the land and was actively encouraged by many small courts and wealthy municipalities’. Later in the century, Charles Burney, the music historian, wrote after his journey through Europe:

‘though Italy has carried vocal music to a perfection unknown in any other country, much of the present excellence of instrumental is certainly owing to the natives of Germany, as wind and keyed instruments have never, perhaps, in any age or country, been brought to a greater degree of refinement, either in construction or use, than by the modern Germans.’

He also observed: ‘it is hardly too much to say, that the best German musicians, of the present age, with a few exceptions, are to be found out of the country. Indeed, it has been observed, that … transplanted Germans …surpass, in most of the fine arts, those that remain in their original soil.’ The Hanoverian Kings were said to have ‘made London a mecca for composers, instrumentalists and singers from continental Europe’. It was hardly surprising therefore that there were significant numbers of Germans, along with many other Europeans, who ‘invaded’ the music scene in London as the century advanced. [9]

Those who came worked in a broad range of sectors in  the music world, and were socially a very diverse group. Firstly, some were already well-known and respected top soloists who moved in or had access to the highest levels of society. Secondly, and predominantly, many came who became instrumental performers at the Opera, at theatres, on the public concert stage, or in the spheres of private patronage. (The public and private areas of professional

[7] Ehrlich, Music Profession, pp.4-5; Blanning, Culture, pp.108 -111
[8] Ehrlich, Music Profession, pp. 5; Rohr, Careers, pp.12-13
[9] Fiedler, ‘German musicians’, p.6: Burney, Present State of Music, pp.xii, 243; Cited in Panayi, ‘German immigrants’, p.20
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musical activity were very  closely related, so the ability of the musician to conduct himself with propriety in aristocratic circles was just as important as his musical skills in building a career.)[11]

During the eighteenth century there was a dearth of players of certain wind instruments in England. It seems likely that sackbut (trombone) players were brought across to England from Austria or Germany to play in Handel’s performances of 1739 and 1741, as there were no English musicians who could play the instrument. (A similar need was met by Germans at the Handel Commemoration concerts in 1784 as will be seen in Chapter 3.) Parke, himself an oboist, observed: ‘although [the Germans] do not possess the softness of the Italians, yet it must be confessed that in instrumental music, and particularly in that for wind instruments, they have excelled all other nations’. (The listing of skills of the German musicians in the database (Appendix II), and lists of instrumental performers of concerts of the period, corroborate that many came to England as skilled wind instrument players.)[12]       Thirdly, Germany at this period led the way in military music, so  bandsmen came to England, particularly following the Seven Years War (1756 -1763). Several English regiments brought back whole bands with them on their return from Germany, and with increasing numbers of militia regiments being formed here in England in the 1790s, each having its own wind band, Germany came to be looked on as ‘an admirable foraging ground for the recruitment of bandsmen’. (Johann Gottfried Lehmann came from Hanover in 1794 to become bandsmaster of the Cambridge militia – even though he could speak no English!)[13] In all of these sectors, a considerable number became teachers, especially as demand grew.[14]

Lastly, in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the term ‘German band’ was used for itinerant street musicians, no doubt because street musicians were invariably German. This type of band was a major nuisance and was the butt of negative comment in newspapers and magazines.[15] The nine men and women – all with German surnames (ranging in age from 18 to 50) who were all living at

[10] I am indebted to Susan Reed of the British Library for her thoughts on the groups who came; I am indebted to Ian Woodfield of Queen’s University, Belfast, for allowing me to read his forthcoming book. Woodfield, Salomon and the Burneys, (draft copy) p.3. See here too how Salomon trod this delicate balance.
[11]Herbert, ‘The sackbut in England,’ pp.612 - 615; Parke, Musical Memoirs, II,p.29
[12] Mackenzie Rogan, ‘Regimental bands’, p.28; Farmer, Royal Artillery, pp.5-11; Lomas, ‘Militia and volunteer wind bands’, pp.154-157
[13] Rohr, Careers, pp.134-139, McVeigh, Concert life’, p.8
[14] I am indebted to Trevor Herbert for this information.
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15, Leicester Place, in St Anne, Soho, on Census night, 1841, could have been members of  this sort of band.[15] Bands of German itinerant musicians may well have come to England for a particular gathering or fair in the capital or provinces, knowing that there would be rich pickings. On Census night (30 March) 1851 there were five men and women, all musicians, ranging in age from 17 to 24, from ‘Germany, Frankfort’, staying at an inn in Uppingham. It is very likely that they had come for the Stamford Mid-Lent fair (the largest in Lincolnshire), which started the following day.[16]

Germans thrived in other areas related to the music industry. In 1777 Joseph and Gerhard Vogler established themselves in Glasshouse Street, London, where they published and sold music until 1785.[17] In 1835 Adam Joseph Schott founded the London branch of the famous Mainz firm of music publishers.[18] Makers of musical instruments too found better conditions, pay, tools and materials in England. Jacob Kirkman from Bischweiler, in Alsace, came to London in the early 1730s and manufactured harpsichords.[19] Johann Christoph Zumpe from Nuremberg established his workshop in Princes Street, Hanover Square in 1761 and made a fortune in the manufacture of pianos. George Miller’s business flourished at 3, Dacre Street in the late eighteenth century and the earliest English clarinets surviving (1770) were made by him.[20]

It is clear that Germans were found in all sectors of the music industry in London. The two themes of migration and community will now be discussed using the information on individual musicians gathered during the course of this study. (See figure 1 for total numbers.)

Figure 1: Numbers of musicians in database used for this study
Figure 1: Numbers of musicians in database used for this study


The Europeans were a mobile society in the eighteenth century. Stephen Hochstadt is one historical demographer who has used a variety of urban citizenship registers to discern and calculate substantial rates of preindustrial mobility in eighteenth-century Germany, when thousands travelled as far as North

[15] I am indebted to Deborah Rohr of Skidmore College, New York, for details of this 1841 Census return.
[16] I am indebted to Rosemary Canadine for this information. Uppingham Local History Study Group, Uppingham in 1851, p.13
[17] Highfill,Biographical Dictionary,15, p.190
[18] I am indebted to Susan Reed for this information.
[19] Panayi, German immigrants, p.20; I am indebted to Stephen Kirkman for information about his ancestors. (See also Appendix II for other members of the family.)
[20] Cole, ‘Twelve Apostles?’, pp.9-18, 25-26; Waterhouse, Langwill Index, p.265
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America.[21]   In this part of the study I shall examine the migration of musicians to London using as a basis the ‘laws of migration’ suggested by E.G. Ravenstein.

The theories relevant for the purposes of this study are as follows:

i) The majority of migrants go only a short distance, but migrants going long distances generally go by preference to one of the great centres of commerce or industry. (Wellenreuther has suggested that the term ‘migration’ should not be inflexibly tied to distances, but to the perception of the migrant. Rather, migration should be defined as reaching ‘the unknown’, ie a place which is not part of the regional and larger kinship system of the migrant.) German musicians travelled a considerable distance to reach London, but, as a centre for music, where music was ‘all the rage’, the ‘pull’ factor was strong.[22]

ii) Migration proceeds step by step. Ravenstein argued that most migrants did not proceed directly to their destination, but that they settled for periods of time at intervening places. Did musicians travel directly to reach London, or had they resided elsewhere as they proceeded to London? Did some musicians use London as a ‘step’ before proceeding elsewhere?  In relation to how far a migrant travels, the importance of ‘information flow’ and ‘information fields’ has been stressed, and the communication networks which stretched across Europe. Also, it has been found that professional specialization and certain occupations could link migrants with particular contacts at a distance, creating ‘channels of mobility’, attracting them to destinations far away.[23]

Figure 2: Musicians known to have travelled or come directly to England (1st generation migrants only)
Figure 2: Musicians known to have travelled or come directly to England (1st generation migrants only)

It is impossible to determine exactly how many German musicians came directly to London. However,  there is sufficient information available for 117 musicians (46% of the sample), to draw some general conclusions (see figure 2). Of the sample, thirty males and one female appear to have travelled directly to London. Some of those who came directly were young children and were brought by a relative who was migrating to England.   Others came directly as adults because they knew they had a specific job to come to.  Others did so because they had strong links already with a relative, or friend, or previous teacher who was already established in England. (There is clear evidence of ‘chain migration’: that movement whereby prospective migrants learn of opportunities, are possibly provided with the wherewithal for transport, and have initial accommodation and

[21] Wellenreuther, ‘Recent research’, pp.266 -269; Moch, Moving Europeans, pp.1-2,19-20
[22] Grigg, ‘E.G. Ravenstein’, pp.44-48; Wellenreuther, ‘Recent research’, p.305
[23] White and Woods, ‘Foundations’,p.36; Moch, Moving Europeans, pp.14-16; Wellenreuther, ‘Recent research’, pp.292,305; Bailyn, ‘Introduction’,p.5; Fertig, Transatlantic migration, p.206
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sometimes employment arranged by means of primary social relationships with previous migrants.)[24] Others came directly because they had been invited specifically to perform at a certain concert or series of concerts.

A far greater number (seventy-five males and eleven females) did not travel directly to London, but toured for an shorter or longer period in Europe, or worked in various countries,  before their arrival in London. They ranged from children whose parents took them on tours to perform as child prodigies, to adults who spent years travelling from place to place, either touring successfully or merely seeking work, and eventually, some almost by chance, ending up in London.

These findings seem to indicate that German musicians were more than twice as likely to proceed in their migration step by step than to come to London directly. It is certain that information about the opportunities in London was readily communicated with increased literacy and the improved postal service across the continent. (Isaac Herschel corresponded regularly with his musician sons in London in the late 1750s, and Caroline in her youth was kept busy writing letters to soldiers away on the war front on behalf of their illiterate wives.)[25]

There were those musicians who used London as a step before proceeding elsewhere, some to elsewhere in the British Isles or  Europe, or to America. When Jacob and William Herschel arrived in London in 1757,  they found ‘London was so overstocked with musicians’ that they felt they ‘had but little chance of any great success’. After a couple of years, William moved north to Yorkshire, and eventually settled in Bath, where he had a successful musical career, while Jacob returned to Hanover to join the King’s orchestra there. J.C.G. Graupner came to England in 1788, worked here for five years, then in 1793 emigrated to America, where he had considerable influence on the musical life of Boston.[26]

iii) Every migratory current has a counter-current. The reasons for which musicians might decide to return to their homeland are many and complex: Some intended to stay only temporarily, and after being successful, return with their gains. Others were not  successful professionally or economically so were driven home destitute. A considerable number seem to have desired to spend their last days on German soil, returning when their powers as musicians or health was declining – in some cases after elaborate farewells. (Perhaps some were keen to

[24] Macdonald and Macdonald, ‘Chain migration’, p.82
[25] Blanning, Culture, pp.111-118,127-132; Hoskin, Autobiographies, p.108
[26] Lubbock, Herschel Chronicle, p.13; ‘Johan Christian Gottlieb Graupner’,
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leave while they were still in their prime. Parke observed that Antonio Sacchini, an Italian composer, had ‘remained too long in England for his fame and fortune’.)[27]  There is evidence to suggest that many first generation migrants returned to Germany occasionally for visits, and that second-generation migrants visited the place of their parents’ origins if the opportunity arose, some remaining there.

iv) Females are more migratory than males within the kingdom of their birth, but males move more frequently abroad. The findings of this study show that there were 234 males recorded who came to England, whereas there were only 22 females, ie under 10% of those who came were females (see figure 1). A small proportion of those females who came, came as ‘secondary migrants’, ie those who came because their husbands or another member of their nuclear family was migrating to England, so the number of those who came in their own right as musicians was even fewer than might appear. Anna Herschel in Hanover in the 1760s obviously did not wish her daughter to be educated too much, for fear she might move away, or even emigrate like her brothers. Caroline commented:

‘My father wished to give me something like a polished education, but my mother was particularly determined that it should be rough… I could not help thinking that she had cause for wishing me not to know more than was necessary for being useful in the family; for it was her certain belief that my brother William would have returned to his country, and my eldest brother not have looked so high, if they had had  a little less learning.’

These sentiments as regards the education of girls cannot have been uncommon in Germany during the period in question. Nevertheless, the study shows that there was a significant minority of female migrant musicians active in London. [28]

Figure 3: Age on arrival (when known) - Numbers
Figure 3: Age on arrival (when known) – Numbers

v) Most migrants are adults; families rarely migrate. A number of modern studies have investigated the age composition of migrants, showing that migrants were predominantly adolescents and young adults, ie people in their productive years who had a real contribution to make.[29] Of those musicians in the database, it was possible to calculate the approximate age on their arrival in London for 50% of the total:114 males and 14 females (see figure 3). For the remainder insufficient information was available. Those in the sample who came ranged in age from three to fifty-six. Only twenty-six came under the age of twenty, but of those who


[27] London, British Library, ‘A printed programme -before J.B. Cramer’s departure from England 1835’: Add.38071, f.109; Parke, Musical Memoirs, II, p.245
[28] Grigg, ‘Ravenstein’, p.49; Booth, Migration process, 5; Herschel, Memoir, p.20
[29] Grigg, ‘Ravenstein’, pp.49-50; Castro and Rogers, Age Composition, pp.63-79; Moch, Moving Europeans, p.13; Bailyn, ‘Introduction’, p.4
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did seven were females. By far the majority came between the ages of twenty and forty, but there were eighteen men who arrived in their forties or fifties to work here. The average age of males on their arrival was 28.88 years, whereas the average age of females was 21.71 years.  From this it can be deduced that the males who came  were not predominantly adolescents, or very young adults (though there were adolescent males, who appear to have arrived in their teens without other members of their family), but in the main the male musicians seem to have been in their late twenties, and were almost as likely to arrive in their thirties as in their twenties. The reason for this may be that many of the male musicians who came had been improving their skills and gaining experience, either at home or whilst travelling, for a considerable number of years before they eventually arrived in England. It does appear however, that females were younger than the males, and that they were just as likely to be under the age of twenty as over it on arrival. A minority came as families.

vi) The main causes of migration are economic. Ravenstein was convinced that the ‘pull’ factor exercised by the higher wages in the towns and cities was more important than any ‘push’ factors, such as overpopulation and increased unemployment. Early in the century Mattheson acknowledged that the high wages paid in England were a significant factor in the migration of musicians. He wrote in 1713 in his Neu-eröffnetes Orchester:  ‘He who at the present time wants to make a profit out of his music betakes himself to England.’ Daniel Defoe observed in 1728 that London had ‘heaps of Foreign Musicians’ who were attracted to the city by the high wages there. Though the Petrides brothers admitted that they had commenced their travels out of ‘curiosity, or perhaps vanity’, for the majority of musicians economic factors must have been paramount in their migration.[30] The reason for the apparent peak in the 1780s and 1790s of the numbers of German musicians active in London  (see figure 4) must have been linked to the availability of work and the wages there that generally exceeded those found elsewhere in Europe, though the French Revolution was also a factor.

Figure 4: German Musicians in London 1745-1855
Figure 4: German Musicians in London 1745-1855
Figure 4a: German Musicians in London 1745-1855
Figure 4a: German Musicians in London 1745-1855

In 1791, Wenderborn, a German pastor ministering in London remarked ‘Many foreign singers, fidlers, and dancers, are extravagantly paid; and if they are the least frugal, they are enabled to retire to their own country where they may live in affluence, enriched by English money.’ So great were the economic opportunities

[30] Grigg, ‘Ravenstein’, p.53; Fiedler, ‘German musicians’, pp.5-6; Rohr, Careers,p.13; Glasgow, University Library, Euing Collection:77/153 ‘Joseph and Peter Petrides’
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that another observed that musicians had little incentive to return to their native countries: ‘The greatest part of the foreign musicians who visit London remain there: for as that great city is actually a PERU to them, they do not choose to deprive themselves of the lucrative monopoly which they there enjoy, in regard to their own profession.[31]

So was this true for the majority? Were they so enriched as to be able to live in affluence either in England or back home? Fertig has suggested that in the case of German migration to British North America, no difference in the economic status of migrants and their neighbours who remained at home can be demonstrated. One Italian musician in London would certainly have agreed that that was true:

‘As to the fiddlers and other Italians, who come here to play or to teach music, foolishly attracted by the great renown of English riches, they perform … and trot about from house to house every morning, to give lessons for two guineas a dozen, while the winter lasts: but scarcely one in twenty has found himself twenty pounds the better at the year’s end for these twenty years past.[32]

With so many unknowns for so many musicians it is impossible to say what was reality for most, but a number are known to have died very rich.  When Handel died he left an estate worth £20,000, which made him a millionaire by today’s standards.  But equally, musicians who had had a very successful career could have few remaining assets by the time they died. When J.C. Bach died on 1 January 1782, he left everything to his wife,  but in reality left debts amounting to £4,000.[33]  Nevertheless, some musicians, though by no means the majority, did very well for themselves. Born in 1755, J.S.C. Possin held a high musical appointment in the Prussian Court before he came to England in the 1790s. In Germany he had been a respected teacher of theory and composition, and in England he adapted symphonies for orchestra, and probably continued teaching. His career in England is fairly obscure (he has no entry in New Grove) and for the last years of his life (in his late sixties) he ‘suffered under a long and painful disorder that enfeebled his powers’. However, he left an estate worth £6,000 – no mean sum in 1821. The opposite was true of others. Wendeborn also observed in the 1790s: ‘Several of the principal German and Italian musicians in London, I have known to live in a most deranged state of their finances; they were involved

[31] Quoted in Rohr, Careers, p.13
[32] Fertig, ‘Transatlantic migration’, p.231; Cited in McVeigh,The Violinist, pp.61-62
[33]Blanning, Culture,p.277; Sanford Terry, JC Bach,pp.166-168
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in debt, and died wretchedly poor.’  A number were forced to flee the country to avoid imprisonment.[34]

vii) Migration increases as industries develop and the means of transport improves. Lee has developed this theory by positing that there are a number of ‘intervening obstacles’ between the migrant’s place of origin and destination, one of which is the ease or difficulty of travel and its cost. The improvement in the roads and increased availability of public transport (including merchant shipping between Germany and England) and the reduction in travel time, played a part in the increased migration of musicians to England.[35]


When members of a population leave that group in considerable numbers in order to reside amongst another population from which they are demographically distinguishable, a migrant community begins  to form. The migration process involves the formation and development of this new community.[36] The community of German migrant musicians that existed in London from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries has been studied as part of this project. Before outlining the aspects of community which have been investigated, I shall discuss the definition of ‘community’ as it is generally understood by local historians.

Communities  are social: they involve human beings living in association with each other, where people are markedly close to each other and may be in frequent contact. A community embraces people of a distinct type, who feel they belong, even though they may not be familiar with or possess all the characteristics peculiar to that type. Members of a community will generally be united in spirit against outside pressures.[37]  No community stands on its own: it is part of a local society, which in reality is an aggregation of interlinked communities. Within each community there may be separate sub-communities, ranging down to the level of networks of kin and individual families. Migrant communities are usually fluid and their boundaries loosely drawn, as settler individuals and families move in and out.[38]

[34] Glasgow, University Library, Euing Collection: 87/155 ‘J.S.C. Possin’, and 88/171 ‘C. Saust’; London, PRO Kew: Death Duty Register IR26/879 ‘J.S.C. Possin’; Rohr, Careers, p.157
[35] Grigg, ‘Ravenstein’, p.52; Ogden, Migration, pp.17-18; Blanning, Culture, pp.127-130
[36] Ogden, Migration, p.17-18
[37] Rogers, ‘Communities’,p.21; Marshall, ‘Communities’,p.36; Rakette, ‘Mission today’, p.129; Lord, ‘Communities’,p.198
[38] Marshall, 'Communities’,pp.36-37; Phythian-Adams, ‘Introduction’,pp.18-19; Lord, ‘Communities’, pp.197-199
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An individual may live in different communities at different levels at any given time. These may be ethnic, social, geographic, political or economic. For example, people of a given occupation can form their own community which may not necessarily be fixed to one locality, but those who belong will share a common interest, will  be ‘involved’, and in some way the group will be distinctive from others.[39] The German migrant musicians as a community were at the same time part of the wider communities of German migrants, and musicians in general. As outlined in Chapter 1, a number of aspects of the community of German musicians in London have been examined, using other studies of immigrant communities and their assimilation into the society around them as models.

i) Marriage patterns

One important feature of immigrant life which can be studied to gauge how quickly a group assimilates into the society around it is that of intermarriage. Lobban  studied the marriage patterns of the Irish community in Greenock. He found that the Catholic Irish displayed a very high degree of intra-group marriage. He also found that their age at marriage was distinctive: they displayed a pattern of marrying younger like the Irish (in Ireland), in contrast to those around them. He found too that the percentages of Irish men and women remaining single was significantly lower than those for the total population of the town. Likewise Endelman in his study of the communal solidarity of the Jewish elite of Victorian London found that there was a high degree of consanguinity, with relatively few marrying out of the group. Grauman argued that free intermarriage is the best criterion of full assimilation, whereas homogamy (marriage by an immigrant to another migrant from the same ethnic or cultural background) indicates the persistent wish to segregate and perpetuate the group’s culture. (The term ‘free intermarriage’ must be understood as meaning that at least as many couples of unlike ethnic background get married as would  be expected to occur by chance, whereas the degree of homogamy is when intra-group marriage exceeds that which would be expected to occur by chance.) It has also been found that intermarriage does not necessarily start between the majority and minority

[39] Rogers, ‘Communties’,pp.21,25; Marshall, ‘Communities’,p.36; Lord, ‘Communities’,p.197; Strathern, Kinship, p.221
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groups, but is more likely to occur between individuals from different minority groups.[40]

From the data available for the musicians in this study there were seventy-eight first-generation immigrant males who were believed to have remained in England until their death over the age of fifty, or who had remained in England until their retirement to their own country in old age, or who were known to have married in England and details of their marriage are known (see figure 5). Of these seven are believed to have remained unmarried; it is not known if twenty-seven married or not, but forty-four were known to have married. Of those forty-four, the age at first marriage was known for twenty-three men. (Ten married in their twenties, nine in their thirties and four in their forties.) With any small sample, such figures should be treated with caution, but these calculations suggest that German musicians in England were marrying relatively late: the average age of marriage for those in the sample being 32.3 years. This may have been due to the seasonal and tenuous nature of the musicians’ employment, and consequent financial insecurities. It may also have been due in part to there being relatively few suitable German migrant women available in London for them to marry.[41]   (This pattern of late marriage may have been characteristic of German men, or German male musicians of the time and also of British professional men.)

Figure 5: Marriage
Figure 5: Marriage

The figures show that though three first-generation men married German women (two of whom were musicians), four married migrant women of another nationality (three of whom were musicians)  – a trend that Grauman suggested would be more likely – and twenty married British women. Three of these British women were musicians, but  seventeen (by far the majority) married British women who are not known to have been musicians or from a musician family (but not surprisingly one was a dancer and another an actress). This would indicate that for first-generation men it was not a problem for them to marry a native, and that they were fairly well assimilated into English society.

Similar calculations were carried out for second-generation German men, and first and second-generation females. Again, the numbers are so small that any findings should be treated with utmost caution, but they reveal that of the sample the second-generation men were on average marrying late, at the age of 31.6 years, but younger than those first-generation males. Five of them married British

[40] Lobban, ‘Irish Community’, pp.270-281; Endelman, ‘Communal solidarity’,pp.491-526; Grauman, ‘Cultural assimilation’,pp.74-76
[41] Rohr, Careers, p.154; Grauman, ‘Cultural assimilation’,p.110-112
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women. (Was life more secure for them? Were they behaving more like those in the society they had been born into?) The females show a very early age at first marriage: 21.3 years, but there were only three marriages in the sample. The only second-generation woman whose age at marriage was known was seventeen.  Only further study will reveal whether these findings are typical or not. While one female married a German musician, four married British men who were musicians, and two others married British men, which again might indicate that they were fairly well assimilated into English life.

Since the information for so many is so limited, it has not been possible to calculate what percentages of each category did not marry at all. However, a general impression is that there may have been a high proportion of first-generation male German migrants in London who remained single. (There is a general tendency for late marriage to go with a higher level of permanent celibacy. The reasons for this are likely to be the same as those outlined above for late marriage.)[42] Much further data will need to be collected, if this is to be confirmed or disproved.

ii) Language

There is quite a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the German language was used between German migrants (and others who perhaps worked or studied in Germany previously) in London when speaking to each other. Michael Kelly recalled how he had overheard Giovanni Pronto speak to Mme. Mara in German before an oratorio at Drury Lane. No doubt many Germans spoke English with an accent. C.F. Abel is said to have exclaimed: “Zer is but one Got, and one Abel!”  German language teachers placed advertisements in English musical magazines offering German through the medium of English, French or Italian. Mr Weil’s stated: ‘Mr W. particularly addresses himself to Professors and Amateurs of Music, to whom a knowledge of the German language is considered indispensable.’ There were those Germans who made an effort to learn English well, and many  became fluent in the language. J.E. Galliard was said to have ‘studied our language with considerable diligence and success’.  In 1792 when Haydn met K.F. Baumgarten in London, he noted that he could hardly converse in his native language.[43]

[42] Wrigley and Schofield, ‘Population History’,p.257
[43] Highfill, Biographical Dictionary, 12,p.50; Highfill, Biographical Dictionary, I,p.5; The Musicial World, XVI, Vol.XVII, (April 1842)p.3; Highfill,Biographical Dictionary, 5,p.440; ‘Karl Friedrich Baumgarten’,
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iii) German churches in London

In 1689 the Toleration Act was passed under William III of Orange. This was important for the formation of German congregations in England, and for foreign churches in general, for it guaranteed to foreign congregations as well as to English Non-Conformists the right to practise religion freely. By the late eighteenth century there were eight functioning German congregations in London (these fulfilled a social function in addition to worship), but all pastors complained about poor attendance and were amazed at the speed with which the German emigrants became integrated into English society. There is evidence that some German musicians attended German churches (some of course were employed by them), and used them for baptism of their infants, or marriage, but the overwhelming impression is that the majority of German musicians were married and had their children christened in English churches, although it is not possible to quantify this. They do not seem to have chosen religious segregation, and as they adapted to English society, the less they needed to belong to a German congregation.[44]

iv) German publications, institutions, and meeting places

The presence of so many foreigners in London created a market for foreign language publications. During the eighteenth century seventy books were published in German in London (far fewer than in Latin, French or Italian). Although musicians were fairly dominant among the professions of Germans in England  from the mid-eighteenth century onwards, there were no specific works published by or for them in German, and no specifically German associations for musicians alone, which might have generated such publications. This was possibly because German musicians were working closely together on a regular basis and may not have felt the need for separate social or professional networks or publications. The community of musicians may have been a sufficient network in itself, and they do not appear to have required a more specific German focus within that world. Another factor must have been the fact that they were such a diverse group socially, so would not all have naturally chosen to socialize together. Some chose to be involved with other general German associations: for example, a few German musicians belonged to the only German-speaking Freemasons’ lodge in London, the Pilgrim Lodge or Pilger Loge, founded in 1779. (Interestingly, although many of the English royal family became freemasons,

[44] Steinmetz, ‘German Churches’,pp.49-59
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George III did not; nor do the rank-and-file members of the Queen’s private band appear to have joined.),[45]

There is evidence too that certain inns in London were frequented by Germans. George Griesbach recalled how when he arrived at the Tower of London, after the voyage to England with other new members of the band, they were taken ‘to a tavern near there, where the Hambro’ [Hamburg] ships’ captains dine’; ‘the landlord’s name was Werner’. Parke noted that Baumgarten was ‘fond of the German style of eating’ and that they had ‘made a party to him at a German eating-house … kept by a countryman of his, named Weiler’.[46]

v) Antagonism

During the period of this study there was increased dominance of the music scene by foreign musicians and bias towards foreigners by the public, which was frequently satirised. German musicians thought it worthwhile to stress their Germanic origins, and concert promoters sought actively to attract talented musicians from abroad. All musicians laboured under a negative image (they were often perceived to be from low social origins, poorly educated, socially unskilled and inferior individuals). As social and economic pressures intensified for all in the early decades of the nineteenth century, understandably there was resentment of the foreigners on the part of the natives. Henry Bishop, one such musician, expressed his frustration poignantly in a letter to a friend:

‘I was extremely gratified by his [Mr Hogarth’s] critique, – indeed, I may add, affected  by it, – for it has not been everyone who has properly known me, or done me (I will boldly say) justice. I have worked hard, and during many a long year, for fame! And have had many difficulties to encounter in obtaining the portion of it which I am proud to know I possess. I have been a slavish servant to the Public, and too often when I have turned each way their Weathercock Taste pointed, they have turned round on me, and upbraided me for not remaining where I was! This is metaphor, but it is fact! Had the Public remained truly and loyally English,  I would have remained so too! but I had my bread to get, and was obliged to watch their caprices, and give them an exotic fragrance (if I could not give them the plant) when I found they were tired of, and neglecting the native production.’

Much of the resentment on behalf of the native was directed against those (especially top Italian singers) who demanded high fees, dominated, and then

[45] Field, ‘Preface’, p.v; Shaw, ‘Statistics’, p.264; I am indebted to Susan Reed for her ideas on this subject; McVeigh, ‘Freemasonry’, pp.72-94
[46] ‘Memoirs’, p.17; Parke, ‘Musical Memoirs’ II,p.191
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who were perceived to abscond with their ill-gotten gains.[47]   However, antagonism does not seem to have adversely affected the average German musician in England to any major extent.

vi) Outstanding individuals

A number of scholars have looked into the numbers of ‘outstanding individuals’: those from an immigrant group who have achieved a certain status in the receiving community. They conclude that these give some indication of the group’s ‘accommodation’, or the degree of acceptance, and the part played by the immigrants in British life. A search in  the Dictionary of National Biography  (the 1995 CD, which includes entries from all editions) reveals that it contains no fewer than twenty-four entries pertaining to German musicians who were active in Britain during the period of this study, and who are included in the database. A few who feature seem rather obscure, nevertheless, the inclusion of these musicians indicates positive ‘accommodation’, and recognition of the significant role and influence of German musicians active in England at that time.[48]

The biographical papers in the Euing collection in Glasgow also testify to the considerable influence German musicians had in the training and development of English musicians, not only on those who were from London, but on those from the provinces too. (Some had spent a period of time in London and been taught by Germans there before pursuing their careers elsewhere, and continued to hold them in high esteem.)  A sentiment which was repeated was that a number of Germans had been excellent teachers of thorough bass, theory and/or composition, laying a foundation for their pupils’ careers. [49]

vii) Naturalization and Denization

     For most of the period of this study aliens could acquire the full or partial  rights of a British national by naturalization or denization. Applying for naturalization was troublesome – it was necessary to apply for a private Act of Parliament – and costly (in the middle of the eighteenth century it cost £65) and relatively few aliens bothered to or could afford to. (Beerbühl has found that 446 male Germans were naturalized between 1715 and 1800, by far the majority of whom were merchants, for whom it was an economic necessity.)The other option

[47] McVeigh, Concert Life, pp.81-82; Rohr, Careers,pp.12-14; London, The British Library, Egerton 2,159, f.96: Letter from Henry Bishop to [?Thomas] Mackinlay. Windsor, 3 Sept, 1840; Ehrlich, Music Profession,p.17
[48] Grauman, ‘Cultural Assimilation’,pp.124,33-35; Larminie, ‘Immigrants in the DNB’, p.175;
[49] Glasgow, University Library, Euing Collection. See, for example, 87/161: ‘Thomas A. Rawlings’
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available was to become a denizen. This was granted by letters patent, and was much cheaper, or may have even been granted free by the King. A denizen was allowed some of the rights of naturalization, eg the buying and devising of land.[50]  I have found that very few (19) German musicians in this study became denizens, and even fewer (3) were naturalized. In 1795  fourteen of the Queen’s band, all ‘musicians of New Windsor’, along with Christopher Papendiek (a page/musician) and Ernst Giesewell (a ‘not full page’) became denizens. All were working in the Royal Household, and Mrs Papendiek gives us to understand it was ‘the King’s wish’;  that her husband might vote, and to be able to have a grant on a house. She also adds ‘it was the only reward for [Papendiek’s] long attendance in the King’s illness’. (Perhaps the King granted the right of denization to these sixteen employees of his free, or paid for it?)[51] In 1803 J.B. Cramer, Graeff and Salomon (close friends) together became denizens, and it may be that denization worked out cheaper if a number applied at the same time. The reason that so few German musicians applied for either right, was almost certainly the expense involved, the fact that musicians were mobile and itinerant, and that in order to work, they did not require fixed assets. By contrast, George Astor, a musical instrument maker, became naturalized because he needed premises in which to conduct his business and the legal status which would maximize economic profit. [52]

viii) The wider German community

The community of German musicians was a sub-group of  the wider German community in London, and the boundaries were blurred. There is evidence to suggest that members perceived they belonged and were responsible to one another in certain situations.

When Haydn first appeared in London at Salomon’s subscription concerts and the turnout was poor, Mrs Papendiek hints that her ‘countrymen’ (was she referring to Germans in London?) should have attended and shown ‘respect to the stranger and then to Salomon, who lived among us and had done so much for the musical world’. Similarly, when Carl Maria von Weber came to London in 1826, he had considerable success, but tragically died of tuberculosis whilst here

[50] Hey, Local and Family History,p.325,129; Beerbühl, ‘Naturalization’,pp.511-516
[51] Shaw, Letters of Denization, pp.202-203. (A fourth, William Herschel, was naturalized too, but well after he had left the music profession for astronomy.); Broughton, Court and Private Life,pp.92-93, 221-222
[52] London, Public Record Office, ‘Index of naturalizations and denizations1804 - 1850’; I am grateful to Margrit Beerbühl for her thoughts on this subject.
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- an illness he had battled with for a time. Writing soon afterwards, the flautist, A.B. Fürstenau, who had accompanied him on his trip, commented on the poor turnout at a benefit concert arranged for Weber’s family: ‘it was the fault of the public that … his concert did [not] turn out well, rather should you & we all be angry with our countrymen in London for their taking so little interest in W[eber], for it will be an eternal disgrace to them that they did not  fill a concert room holding no more than 600 people’.[53]

Lastly, Caroline Herschel makes clear in later life that although she felt they were socially inferior, she had had to associate with Christopher and Charlotte Papendiek because they were Germans. (They had moved in the same circles when she lived in England.) She wrote to her nephew, John, in 1830: “Remember, I say, [Mrs Papendiek] is not a fit person to be introduced into all companies, for I have not forgot the vexation I felt when she was presented in my presence to C. Brühl, and another time to a party of ambassadors, as the wife of the King’s page, who came as groom into England and by his flute playing, though no musician, came to the honour of being page. This was enough for her, for her mother was one of the washer maids and the father a page, but not one word of truth ever came out of that woman.” Ten years later, she commented: “It is but lately I heard of the death of Mrs Papendic, and when Mr Beckedorff announced it to me, I could not help thanking God loudly for ridding the world from such a deceitful being … Excuse my harping so long on this subject, but writing this puts me in mind how often these fellows intruded on our time because they were our countrymen.”  Clearly, to belong to a migrant community had its negative aspects as well as its positive ones.[54]

ix) Affective relationships and the wider community of musicians

      There are many examples of affective relationships and support for those in need within the community of German musicians. For instance, when a musician arrived in London for the first time, they might share accommodation with another, or a group, as some of the 1841 and 1851 census returns show.[55] J.C. Bach encouraged Wilhelm Cramer to come to England, shared his lodgings with him

[53] Broughton, Court and Private Life,p.296; London, British Library, ‘Papers of Sir George T. Smart’ Add.41,771, f.69
[54] London, British Library: ‘Correspondence of Caroline Herschel’, Egerton 3761, f.124 (4 June 1830) and Egerton 3762, f.59 (6 July 1840)
[55] I am indebted to Deborah Rohr for details of the census returns showing German musicians. For information on the individuals concerned see Appendix II.
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and helped him to arrange a benefit concert within six months of his arrival.[56] Bach and C.F. Abel’s strong friendship meant that they lived together for many years, ran subscription concerts together for almost two decades, and filed suits versus Longman and Lukey for publishing unauthorized editions of their compositions at the same time in 1773 – an expression of solidarity at a time when the notion of intellectual property was becoming important.[57] Examples abound of Germans playing at the benefit concerts of others, and some clearly cared for others in infirmity and/or old age. But equally there are cases of musicians of different nationalities doing exactly the same for one another: a clear indication of the strong ‘community’ of musicians. At a benefit concert for Christopher Smith (alias Schmidt – a German), the bill stated that he, ‘at his own Expence, hath provided for and brought up the Children of the late Mr. Dahuron [the musician], ever since the time of his death (being near Five Years), and still continues to take Care of the said poor children, who would otherwise be destitute of all Support.’ (In all probability Dahuron was French.)[58] A number of musicians wrote to Sainsbury recalling with gratitude how others had helped them in time of need. (The Cramers seem to have excelled at this.) In a biographical sketch to Sainsbury, the following was written about Catherine Bisset:

‘In consequence of the death of her father when she was quite a child, she was … giving lessons to assist in supporting her family. Shortly after this she became acquainted with Mr J.B. Cramer, who, with the liberality of mind which so peculiarly characterises that great man, instructed her without any emolument.’

A repeated theme was appreciation to a senior musician for being introduced into the right circles for patronage. Benjamin Blake recalled how he had received lessons on the violin by ‘Antonio Kammel a Bohemian eminent in his day; also from the late celebrated William Cramer; and by attending with my Masters to their friends (who were of the first rank) I soon gained friends, even to Royalty.’[59]

Using Pettegree’s study of Elizabethan wills as a model, the will of  Possin (mentioned previously) has been studied to determine who were those closest to him towards the end of his life. Three of the four executors were probably English, but one was G.A. Kollman, an second-generation German migrant. Legacies

[56] Highfill, Biographical Dictionary, VI,p.27
[57] I am indebted to Ann van Allen-Russell for this information. See also van Allen-Russell, ‘For instruments not intended’,pp.3-29
[58] Highfill, Biographical Dictionary, XIV,p.150
[59] Glasgow, University Library, Euing Collection:84/22 ‘Catherine Bisset’, and 84/23 ‘Benjamin Blake’
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(which included a considerable amount of silver) went to his four godchildren, two of whom were from German musician families (Dressler and Wagner), one a French musician family (Lyon), and the other ‘Robert Possin Clarke, musician’, presumably from an English musician’s family. Also, Gabriel Ball (pianoforte maker) and his two sons received legacies. Money and music manuscripts were left to C.F. Saust, his pupil in Germany, who had probably followed him to England; a legacy to ‘Mrs Sophia Carter who has attended me in my present illness’; another to Frederic Meyer (the harpist from Strasbourg), and a legacy to ‘John Nightingale Waiter of Tillman’s Eating House’ (perhaps that was the place where as a single gentleman he regularly ate?). Marina Thwaites (?wife or daughter of one of the executors) was to receive ‘£180 to and for her sole and separate use and benefit’, and Thomas and Mrs Fagan were mentioned separately. This document reveals a network of relationships, between German, French and English musicians and instrument makers, and those Englishmen and women who Possin perceived to be significant as his life drew to a close. The will indicates that the wider community of those in the music business embraced those natives and immigrants alike. It also shows that for Possin, links with Germany and with any living kith or kin had ceased to be important, as relationships cemented in London with ‘strangers’ (as the death duty register describes them), had taken their place.[60]

This chapter has discussed the migration, community and assimilation of  German migrant musicians in London. The following chapter will be a case study of  the Griesbach family, and will outline what their experience was regarding migration, the community in which they lived and worked, and, in as far as can be ascertained, how they assimilated into English society.

[60] Pettegree, ‘Thirty years on’, pp.299-311; London, Public Record Office. Prob.11/1650 ‘Will of John Samuel Charles Possin’; also IR26/879 ‘Death Duties of J.S.C.Possin’
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