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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Herz, Julius (1841–1898)

by Thérèse Radic

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

Julius Herz (1841-1898), by unknown engraver, 1889

Julius Herz (1841-1898), by unknown engraver, 1889

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, IAN01/08/89/11

Julius Herz (1841-1898), musician, was born on 13 March 1841 in Mecklenburg- Schwerin, Germany. He was educated at a preparatory school in Berlin and then at the Berlin Konservatorium under Professor Julius Stern. He was a Konservatorium master until he migrated to Victoria in 1865. In Melbourne Herz became a member of the Victorian Association of Professional Musicians, founded by Charles Horsley, and helped to found the Prahran and South Yarra Musical Union. In 1870 he was one of twelve who founded the South Yarra Liedertafel; it soon became the Metropolitan Liedertafel and by 1891 had 1090 subscribers. In 1873 Herz organized the Brighton Harmonic Society. He was organist in several Melbourne churches, notably Christ Church, Hawthorn, and choirmaster at St James's Cathedral. He also gave private lessons in vocal and instrumental music, composed songs and morceaux and served on the board of examiners of the Musical Association of Victoria.

As conductor of the Metropolitan Liedertafel in 1870-92 Herz organized visits of Melbourne music societies to other capitals. In 1881 he took eighty members to Sydney, a visit which led to the founding of a Liedertafel there. In December 1882 he organized a musical festival, the first of its kind in Melbourne. In the Town Hall with a choir of about 1000 and an orchestra of over 100 musicians, he directed performances of Handel's Messiah and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, attracting audiences of nearly 3000 people; on other nights at the Athenaeum he ran 'smoke concerts' which were equally popular. In 1888 he took groups of members to Adelaide where they earned £700 in three days of concerts, and 154 members to Sydney, giving several concerts in the University Hall for the centenary celebrations. In 1889 he helped to found the Society of Musicians of Australia patterned on the Royal Society of Musicians in England. In 1890 Herz was entrusted with the business management of the Victorian Orchestra and worked hard but in vain to continue it after the government guarantee ceased in July 1891. He is credited with persuading Francis Ormond to give £20,000 for establishing the chair of music within the University of Melbourne. He organized the great operatic carnival in the Exhibition Building in Melbourne; the profits of £4000 were devoted to the founding of music scholarships in the university.

Herz had found a friend and patron in Sir William Robinson and in 1892 went to Western Australia after Robinson became governor there. They collaborated in the composition of an opera which Herz produced when he returned to Melbourne in 1894. In 1867 he had married Anna Margarita Freyberger; they had eight sons and one daughter. Herz died at Mordialloc on 23 August 1898 and was buried in the Cheltenham cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • H. M. Humphreys (ed), Men of the Time in Australia: Victorian Series (Melb, 1882)
  • Australasian, 7 Jan, 30 Dec 1882, 27 Aug 1898
  • Melbourne Bulletin, 19 Jan 1883
  • Illustrated Sydney News, 28 Mar 1891
  • Age (Melbourne), 24 Aug 1898
  • Argus (Melbourne), 24 Aug 1898
  • Table Talk, 26 Aug 1898
  • Annual reports and guard books (Metropolitan and Melbourne Liedertafel).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Thérèse Radic, 'Herz, Julius (1841–1898)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 27 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

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