1. Introduction

2. Michael Balling and the Viola-Alta

3. Nelson, New Zealand Harmonic Society

4. Balling arrives in New Zealand

5. Ballings Influence on the Musical Life in Nelson

6. Balling's Return to Europe

7. Michael Balling and Lionel Tertis

8. In Closing



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Michael Balling 1886-1925
Pioneer German Solo Violist with a New Zealand Interlude

by Donald Maurice


[Editor’s note: Excerpt of lecture presented by Donald Maurice at the 31st International Viola Congress in Kronberg, Germany June 11, 2003]


Today’s lecture has been inspired by the story of a 19th century German violist who in 1894 consolidated in Nelson, New Zealand, a German tradition of string playing that was to continue until the 1940s. He had in fact been preceded in Nelson by four years, by another German string player, Herr von Zimmerman.

As well as telling that story, I also intend to demonstrate that this violist, Michael Balling, was ahead of the British violist, Lionel Tertis, by several years, in establishing the viola in the UK as a solo instrument.

In 1980 I was appointed as the eighth Principal of the Nelson School of Music in New Zealand. This school, founded in 1894, was the first music conservatorium in Australasia. Its first Principal was the German violist and conductor Michael Balling. After returning to Europe in 1896, Balling was followed as Principal by two more German string players, firstly Gustav Handke and then Julius Lemmer, who remained as Principal until 1945.

Michael Balling and the Viola-Alta (top)

Michael Balling (photo) was born in Heidingsfeld, Germany in 1866, the youngest of six children, into a poor Bavarian family. Although he was expected to become a shoemaker on leaving school, he won entry to the Royal School of Music at Würzburg as a singer. As a violin student of Hermann Ritter (1849-1926) (photo), he won a viola-alta as a prize and was encouraged to take up this instrument as a serious pursuit.

At first he resisted, fearing it would harm his violin playing but, after following Ritter's advice and practising long slow notes for six months he mastered the instrument and became determined to promote it widely as being superior to the standard smaller viola. By the late 1880s he had established himself in Germany as a viola player of some note.

The idea of a larger viola was not new, there having been tenor and alto violas in existence since early baroque times. The Ritter model however was specifically designed on a model described in Antonio Bagatella's Regale peria Construzione di Violini, published in Padua in 1786. (endnote 1) Ritter believed his new version "gave improved resonance and a more brilliant tone".

Soon after joining the viola section of the Bayreuth Orchestra as its youngest member, Balling's abilities were noticed by the conductor, Felix Mottl, who brought him to the front of the section, where he was often asked to play the solos. According to the account of J. Cuthbert Hadden, (endnote 2), this situation apparently arose when, during a rehearsal of Tristan, a viola solo arrived and there was silence. Balling, from his seat at the back, began to play it thus making his orchestral solo debut.

By 1889, Ritter had five of his students playing the viola-alta in the Bayreuth Orchestra. Balling's rapid ascent in the orchestra led on to invitations to Wagner's house, where he became acquainted with the important musical personalities of the day, musicians such as Hans Richter and Humperdinck.

Nelson, New Zealand Harmonic Society (top)

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the world, in the small settlement of Nelson, New Zealand, a vacancy had occurred for a conductor for the Harmonic Society.

In colonial terms Nelson was considered a cultured town with many professional people also trained as instrumentalists and singers. As early as 1850 there are mentions of musical evenings in private homes. A Mr Charles Bonnington advertised in 1850 that he offered 'tuition in music', violin, pianoforte, singing and dancing, as well as piano tuning and repair.

The Nelson Philharmonic Society was formed in 1852 and was supported in its concerts by local amateur musicians on flute, violin and cello. The Nelson Philharmonic Society was short-lived being replaced only months later by a rebel group, the Nelson Amateur Society. This entity survived until 1859 when it was noted that most of the leading members of Nelson's musical circle "were spending more and more time on their sheep runs". (endnote 3)

In 1860, by which time Nelson had become a city, with a population of 5,000 the Nelson Examiner ran an editorial on January 7 which included the following extract:

We had at one time a promising band of instrumental and vocal performers; and the public cordially responded to their earlier endeavours; but their later performances lacked variety…interest waned…For the last year or two they have given no audible proof of continued existence.

By March of that year the Nelson Harmonic Society was established and this group became the central musical life-blood of Nelson through to the 20th century, having built for itself the Harmonic Society Hall in 1867.

Through the next two decades the new Philharmonic Society was also formed, with a more public profile than the somewhat private activities of the Harmonic Society and the Nelson Orchestral Society is mentioned from the 1880s onwards.

The Harmonic Society had, since 1890, been under the direction of the German, Herr von Zimmerman, who had recently been touring with the Seymour-Walsh Opera Company. He was a noted violinist and had established in Nelson, instruction in violin, viola and cello. After Herr von Zimmerman announced his plan to return to Germany in 1892, the Harmonic Society realised how far he had raised the standard of the choir and decided to initiate a search for a new conductor.

This search resulted in an offer being made to Herr Schultz of Hamburg. By chance Michael Balling learned from a conversation with Schultz that he had been offered the position but was having regrets at his decision to accept. Balling is reported to have been recovering from a recent nervous breakdown and the idea of spending a few weeks on a ship and then recuperating in a small town in the South Pacific must have seemed very appealing to him. He offered to go in Schultz's place, an offer which was readily accepted.

It is not possible to know in hindsight, what were Balling's expectations of Nelson, but it was reported later, on his return to England that :

He had been led to believe that music was in an advanced state there, but found the reverse. He took a philosophical view of the matter, however, and started the first school of music in New Zealand at Nelson. He was obliged to act as principal, conductor and teacher of the various departments which he sought to establish. (endnote 4)

On his departure from Nelson he was reported as saying:

Nelson is not a large place, and some say it is a sleepy hollow, but I find it can recognize the good. (endnote 5)

Balling Arrives in New Zealand (top)

Balling arrived in Nelson from Wellington aboard the Mahinapua on 18 September, 1893. He was introduced to Nelson as:

Late of the Grand Opera, Schwerin, Court musician by appointment to the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, conductor of the Choral and Orchestral Union of Mecklenberg and Solo Viola-Alta in the Bayreuth Orchestra. (endnote 6)

Eleven days after arriving in Nelson, Balling gave his first public recital, introducing the viola-alta not only to Nelson, but also to New Zealand. The review in the Colonist the next day gives a moving account of this concert, describing the audience as:

spellbound with the performance, which was given with really dramatic power… No one even moved, and the stillness that prevailed was a higher compliment to the performer than were the recalls with which he was honoured at the conclusion. (endnote 7)

It was not long before Balling was on the attack, regaling the public for its obsession with sporting achievement. In a letter to the Nelson Evening Mail and now held with the archive of the Nelson School of Music minutes he wrote:

As a foreigner, I am singularly struck by the prominence given to 'sport' of all kinds, even to the extent of legal protection and encouragement within certain bounds, and while the Colonial youths go home and take prizes in athletics against all comers our musical students must at great cost proceed to Europe to learn even piano playing efficiently. With so much time and energy for sport, we may resolve to reserve a little for higher things such as music.

Balling was befriended by two of the city's well-known personalities, Mr Frederick Gibbs, Headmaster of the Central School and Mr J.H. Cock, a shipping agent. They were to become crucial figures in the subsequent musical development in Nelson. Subsequently to writing the above-mentioned letter, Balling and Cock became weatherbound in a mountain hut while on a tramping trip to Mount Cook and it is apparently here that the idea for a small scale German-styled Conservatorium of Music in Nelson was born.

With Mr Cock as the driving force, a public meeting was called on February 27, 1894 and Balling's vision was outlined and supported enthusiastically by the Mayor, Mr Trask, who commented on the very large turnout at the meeting. The school was officially opened on 8 June, 1894.

Presiding on that occasion was Mr Joynt who had this to say about the very wet evening:

It could not be said that the elements were smiling on the enterprise, but it was quite possible that at some future date someone might remark - speaking of the opening of the School of Music - that at its first building, the rain descended, and the floods came and beat upon that building, but they failed to move it because it was founded upon a rock. (endnote 8)

After declaring the school open, a short recital was given by Michael Balling, Miss Dugdale and Mrs Houlker. The programme included Balling playing his own Fantasia for viola-alta, Miss Dugdale playing a piano solo by Archer, a Moskowski piano duo played by Herr Balling and Miss Dugdale, and all three teachers performing the Cradle Song of the Virgin by Brahms.

Balling's Influence on the Musical Life in Nelson (top)

Apart from the rapid development of the educational activity, the years 1894 and 95 were filled with many concerts, in which Michael Balling was conductor, soloist, chamber musician or organiser. Most of the concerts and lectures of Balling received enthusiastic reports both in the newspapers and anecdotally. One activity, for which he is best remembered, is his series of lectures on Wagner which, according to those who remember it, "had the solemnity of a prayer meeting". Such was the popularity of these lectures that he was encouraged to form a Wagner Society in 1895, on the anniversary of the composer's death. This society had an unexpectedly short life, surviving only one meeting. According to one account:

One of those present who, not understanding Balling's intensity of feeling for Wagner, gently ridiculed it in his presence. Not another meeting was held. (endnote 9)

It is reported that Balling lectured and performed to packed halls and that the numbers rose to such an extent that they had to transfer concerts to the theatre. Accounts of his successes were being reported in England.

By the end of 1895, Balling was increasingly feeling the need to return to Europe and resume his professional career, presumably having recovered from his breakdown. He had built the school up in a remarkably short space of time to a roll of 68 by the end its first year - almost 1% of the total population of 7,000 residents.

Before reporting on Balling's activities back in Europe, mention must be made of his activities in New Zealand, beyond Nelson. He toured with the English organist and choirmaster Maughan Barnett and with Alfred Hill, then a young composer. His most remarkable venture though must surely be his visit to the heavily-forested Urewera mountain range, which must have involved some fairly serious tramping. In the obituary notice in the Bayreuther Festspielführer, Dr Werner Kulz refers to this trip as "an excursion into the jungle". In John Thomson's article From Bayreuth to the Ureweras he relates the following account:

The Ureweras were still a Maori stronghold and particularly difficult for a European to penetrate. He succeeded in charming his way into the hearts of his Maori listeners through the force of his personality, being entertained as a royal visitor and showered with valuable presents. Balling later spoke highly of Maori music, especially of the traditional waiata. He had witnessed funeral rites and haka and on some such ceremonial occasion had played viola solos for a chief who had presented him with a carved stick (probably a tokotoko) inlaid with Paua shell. (endnote 10)

The account of Balling's time in Nelson, recorded in London by J. Cuthbert Hadden deserve a mention, not because of its accuracy but rather as an example of how inaccuracies can quickly become the perceived truth. Hadden tells us that Balling went to New Zealand specifically to set up a College of Music, but as we know, this was not the case. The most extraordinary part of his account is that of the journey of Ballling to New Zealand. He would have it that Balling had booked his passage on the Wairarapa, but at the request of the Austrian consul, delayed his passage two days. The Wairarapa subsequently sank and according to Hadden, on arrival in Auckland, Balling read his name among the list of the 300 dead passengers. In reality, at the time of this incident, Balling had already been in Nelson for one year.

Hadden also reports that Balling, on arriving in Nelson was expected to play piano duets with a Mrs Johannsen, who, finding that he was not a pianist shelved him entirely. This doesn't seem to add up with the fact that he performed a Moskowski piano duet in the School's opening concert with Miss Dugdale. Amusingly, Hadden refers to the School's piano teacher as Miss Dogtail. Furthermore the programme included a piano solo by Balling of his own arrangement of Wagner's Fantasia on a Movement of Valkyrie. He also refers to Nelson's population of 15,000 when it was actually 7,000. Of Balling's venture into the Ureweras he describes the Wanganui river as "The Rhine of New Zealand" and describes how at a "Court festival he played viola solos for the Maori King". One hopes that his account of Balling back in Europe was written with more attention to accuracy.

The account of Michael Balling thus far acts as an introduction to three quite different stories.

The first story is about the subsequent influence, at the Nelson School of Music, of the two German principals who followed. This story has already been well documented in Response to a Vision, The first hundred years of the Nelson School of Music, compiled by Shirley Tunnicliffe and in the MA Thesis of Rochelle Gebbie, entitled A musical revolution in Nelson: the German directors of the Nelson School of Music 1894-1944.

The second story is about the rest of Balling's life and career, which was spent principally as a conductor in England and Germany. This has also been reasonably well documented, though in a rather scattered kind of way. This biography has also been well revealed in Rochelle Gebbie's thesis and we must look forward to her publishing this story. Of that particular story it should be noted that Balling enjoyed a long residency as conductor of the Halle Orchestra in Manchester, before eventually returning to Germany where he became conductor of the Bayreuth Orchestra, where he had begun his career at the back of the viola section.

The third story is that of Balling's role in establishing the viola as a solo instrument in Europe, prior to the emergence of the legendary British violist Lionel Tertis. It is this story which will now be explored.

Balling's Return to Europe (top)

By late 1895, Balling was feeling the urgent need to return to Europe to renew his campaign to promote the viola-alta. Just before departing New Zealand, he gave a farewell concert in Nelson on February 3 with pianist Maugham Barnett. Two days later he performed at Thomas Hall in Wellington works by Ritter and Rubinstein. In his second Thomas Hall concert on February 7, he performed works by Nardini, Balling, Schumann and Beethoven. He was also joined on this occasion by violinist Alfred Hill to perform two movements from a Beethoven Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello.

Photo - Concert with Michael Balling, Alfred Hill and Maugham Barnett at Thomas' Hall, Wellington. 7 February, 1896 (endnote 11)

Hermann Ritter had already introduced the viola-alta to London ten years earlier in 1886 and this was reported in the Musical Times in January of that year with the remark that the instrument was "fast superseding the old viola in Germany". At this time Lionel Tertis was just five years old. Nevertheless it was in London where Balling decided to make his grand appearance in 1896. The Musical Courier advertised in its October issue prior to his 1896 concert as follows:

The viola-alta, which excited the admiration of Wagner and Rubinstein, will be played by its greatest exponent at Queen's Hall next Wednesday afternoon. The opportunity for musicians to hear this comparatively unknown instrument will be improved, and we may look for a rare treat.

Balling in fact gave three consecutive Wednesday afternoon concerts in the Queen's Hall on October 28, November 4 and November 11, 1896. These concerts were presented in association with pianist Carl Weber, vocalists Miss Large and Mlle de André, and accompanist Signor Tramezzani. The programmes followed the format of viola solos interspersed with songs and piano solos. Viola solos included Nardini's Sonata for viola-alta and piano, Ritter's Italian Suite, Balling's own solo work, a Sarabande, Air and Gavotte by J.S. Bach and various works by Ritter, Vieuxtemps and Mayer-Olbersleben.

Photo - Programme of Michael Balling' Second Queen's Hall recital
London. November 4, 1896
(endnote 12)

Of the Queen's Hall recitals, the Standard reported:

So distinct are the advantages in many points possessed by the viola-alta, that it is somewhat surprising that the instrument, which had gained the approval of Wagner, Liszt, and Rubinstein, and was used in the orchestra at the first Bayreuth Festival, should not have come into general use in this country. As a solo instrument its merits are undoubted, and it could have, apparently, no better exponent than Herr Balling.

The Globe reported that:

The upper register, in particular, seems capable of producing that peculiarly penetrating and almost nasal tone which has hitherto been entirely associated with the cello, and has indeed constituted one of its principal charms.

To put things into a balanced perspective, one critic from the Manchester Guardian. had a very different point of view: "It is merely obsolete and useless, that is all". (endnote 13)

On Sunday, January 31, 1897 Balling teamed up with violinist H.H. Joachim and pianist/composer Ernest Walker to give a concert for the Musical Society of Balliol College. His most significant effort for the establishment of the viola-alta came shortly after in his February, 1897 lecture to the London Branch of the Incorporated Society of Musicians. The entire text of this lecture was printed in the Monthly Journal in July, 1897. The following two extracts give a good sense of the flavour and intensity of Balling's address:

It is a well-known fact that every new thing which is brought forward must fight its way through all the conservatism, jealousy, suspicion, and, worst of all, laziness which is piled up in every direction, and around everything. Further, it has been experienced often enough, that the better new things are, the greater appear to be the difficulties put in their way, although their success is all the greater afterwards in spite of this.

The viola players of the old type were greatly alarmed and hated the viola alta and its player. They ridiculed both, but with little effect. Anyone who has been for some time a member of one of these old-established orchestras, as we have them in almost every town on Germany, will know what kind of spirit exists among the players. It is pitiful how little they know outside the knowledge of their instrument. But the worst of them are the viola players of the old type, with very few exceptions…It was too large and too loud.

He included in his lecture a section of a congratulatory letter from Wagner to Ritter showing his support for the viola-alta.

Let us hope that this improved and exceedingly ennobled instrument will be sent at once to the best orchestras and be recommended to the best viola players for their earnest attention. We must be prepared to meet with much opposition, since the majority of our orchestral viola players, I grieve to say, do not belong to the flourishing string instrumentalists. Enthusiastic leadership in this pioneer work will certainly bring followers, and finally the conductors and intendants will be obliged to encourage the good example set.

Balling also described in his lecture how the viola-alta had undergone its trial under Hans von Bülow while conducting the orchestra of the Duke of Meiningen. After hearing the concertmaster, Fleischer playing the solo part of Harold in Italy on a viola-alta, he at once ordered a set for his ensemble.

Later in 1897 Balling returned to Germany. His return is colourfully portrayed in a letter written by Cosima Wagner.

But one of our most gifted outlaws Balling, a Würzburger and a Catholic, excommunicated because he conducted some Bach choruses in his Protestant church in Schwerin, who has made his way through India, New Zealand and Brazil, returning home penniless has also stayed for a long time in England. (endnote 14)

It appears that from this time on, Balling's career took him away from viola playing and more and more into conducting. His career as conductor of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester and from 1914 back in Bayreuth has been well documented and in itself deserves a fully comprehensive biography.

While Ritter was a great advocate of the viola-alta, it is clearly Michael Balling who became the true pioneer of the instrument through his recitals and lectures. It is ironic, however, that the public of Nelson, New Zealand most likely heard more viola performances by Michael Balling than any one place in Europe. His presence in London in 1896 and 1897, while brief, was indeed most likely the first significant attempt in that country to establish the viola as a solo instrument.

His legacy to the viola world needs to be put into perspective with some of his well-known contemporaries. Let us consider the life span of six of these.

Hermann Ritter - 1849-1926
Michael Balling - 1866-1925
Lionel Tertis - 1876-1975
Rebecca Clarke - 1886 - 1979
Paul Hindemith - 1895-1963
William Primrose - 1903-1982

Michael Balling and Lionel Tertis (top)

Lionel Tertis (photo) has become synonymous with the birth of modern viola playing in Britain and indeed to the world. He was 20 years old at the time of Balling's Queen's Hall recitals. It is difficult to imagine that he would not have attended at least one of those concerts or at least known that they were happening. Yet in his book, My Viola and I, he makes no mention of the concerts, the published article or of the existence of Michael Balling. This is particularly interesting when considering exactly what was happening in his life at the time.

In his opening chapter Tertis states that:

The embryo fiddler…should frequently and habitually listen to the greatest virtuosi; there is no more potent incentive. With the savings accrued from my professional engagements as a pianist I was able to attend a few concerts given by famous artists before entering Trinity College of Music. (endnote 15)

This shows that he was already a keen concert-goer by the age of sixteen (1892). In spite of the excellent teachers at Trinity College, Tertis was determined to study at the very famous Leipzig Conservatorium and did in fact achieve this for a six-month period in 1895. His first real interest in the viola was sparked while in Leipzig, when he spontaneously bought a viola for £25, an instrument which lay in its case for some time without bridge, strings or even a soundpost, until he sold it to a Mr Salt of Shrewsbury. At the end of 1895 he returned to London, quite dismayed at the experience at the Leipzig Conservatorium.

His impression of his violin teacher, Prof. Bolland, was very negative. He claimed that during lessons he would play at one end of the very long studio and his teacher would stay at the other end, engrossed in his stamp collection, and paid no attention to what or how he played. His impression of his fellow German students was even worse.

English and American students were there in numbers in my time, and no love was lost between us and the German students. Feelings were expressed not in mere casual blows but in pitched battles. The authorities well knew of this but never troubled to interfere.
(endnote 16)

After his brief stay in Leipzig he returned to London and studied violin intermittently with Hans Wessely at the Royal Academy, until the end of 1897. It was during this time that a fellow violin student, Percy Hilder Miles suggested that he should take up the viola. There was not a single viola student at the Academy at that time. He was quickly a convert and stated:

Thereafter I worked hard and, being dissatisfied with my teacher - who was a violinist and knew little of the idiosyncrasies of the viola, nor indeed was there any pedagogue worthy of the name to go to for guidance - I resolved to continue my study by myself. I consider that I learned to play principally through listening to virtuosi; I lost no opportunity of attending concerts to hear great artists perform. (endnote 17)

Later in 1897 he was lent a Guadagnini viola and from that moment on he resolved:

My life's works should be the establishment of the viola's rights as a solo instrument. In those days it was the rarest thing to hear a viola solo, the upper range of the instrument was completely unexplored. Players of that time rarely climbed higher than the second leger line in the treble clef! To counteract this neglect of the higher registers I resolved to give demonstrations to show the improvement in the quality of those higher tones that could be achieved by persistent practice in them.
(endnote 18)

It is more than mildly surprising that a young violist with a very inquisitive mind and hungry for inspiration was not aware of the presence in London of a solo violist already with an international reputation as a soloist.

Michael Balling not only gave recitals in the prestigious halls and delivered lectures to such bodies as the Royal Society of Musicians, but was also being published, in English, with his crusade to establish the viola-alta, which was after all just a big viola.

One cannot help but speculate on how things might have turned out if Lionel Tertis had made contact with Michael Balling in 1897. One cannot help but also speculate on the reasons why this encounter did not take place. Perhaps there is an innocent explanation in that Tertis simply was not aware of Balling' presence and that his interest in the viola was not yet sufficient to lure him to the recitals of a visiting German celebrity.

However it should be remembered that Tertis was not very enamoured to the Germans due to his recent stay in Leipzig. A further compounding possibility is that Tertis, with his Jewish background had got wind of some anti-semitic sentiment from Michael Balling. Quite apart from his obvious connection to Richard Wagner, Cosima Wagner wrote of Balling's time in London and Paris:

He told me that the number and power of the Jews there is terrifying and that they have mixed extensively [with the population] (endnote 19)

This is of course only speculation but it is certainly possible that when Tertis wrote his biography nearly 80 years later, that his memory of the 1890s may have been clouded by subsequent world events. However, by way of putting the record straight, Balling later married the widow of a well-known Jewish conductor (endnote 20) and in fact was himself singled out for having Jewish acquaintances, a situation that almost cost him important career opportunities.

In Closing (top)

In closing it must be mentioned that Tertis, like Ritter and Balling before him, finally settled on a viola which was larger than the standard instrument of the nineteenth century. He designed a large viola in collaboration with Arthur Richardson, which has since become known as the Tertis model. The difference between Ritter's viola-alta and the Tertis model viola is a subject for further investigation, but it is likely that the end result of both was an instrument of improved tone, volume and projection of sound, but that both demanded a strong physique and reasonably large limbs. In essence the largeness of the viola-alta seems to have been in its length, whereas the Tertis model, while being somewhat larger in length than the standard viola, increased the air volume through enlarged lower bouts.

While it is inconclusive whether or not Tertis was aware of Balling, it is clear that Balling had certainly paved the way for the Tertis campaign that came some time later in the early 1900s. The story has not yet been told adequately in the English-speaking world of how the viola, as a solo instrument, was pioneered in the European countries. One cannot help think that from Germany in particular there is a story waiting to be told.


Endnotes (top)

1. John M Thomson. From Bayreuth to the Ureweras. Essays on Music Vol XXIII No. 2, 1990. p.157 (back)
2. Modern Musicians (London 1913). pp.255-261 (back)
3. John M Thomson. Response to a Vision. p.16 (back)
4. Musical Courier. Undated but probably October, 1896 (back)
5. Colonist. 4 February, 1896 (back)
6. John M Thomson. Response to a Vision. p.40 (back)
7. Colonist. 30 September, 1893 (back)
8. Colonist. 9 June, 1894 (back)
9. Shonadh Mann. F.G.Gibbs, his influence on the social history of Nelson, 1890-1950 (back)
10. John M Thomson. From Bayreuth to the Ureweras. p.158 (back)
11. John M Thomson. From Bayreuth to the Ureweras. Essays on Music Vol XXIII No. 2, 1990. p.164 (back)
12. John M Thomson. From Bayreuth to the Ureweras. Essays on Music Vol XXIII No. 2, 1990. p.160 (back)
13. Manchester Guardian. September 29, 1896 (back)
14. John M Thomson. From Bayreuth to the Ureweras. Essays on Music Vol XXIII No. 2, 1990. p.163 (back)
15. Lionel Tertis. My Viola and I. p.9 (back)
16. Lionel Tertis. My Viola and I. p.13 (back)
17. Lionel Tertis. My Viola and I. p.16 (back)
18. Lionel Tertis. My Viola and I. p.17 (back)
19. John M Thomson. From Bayreuth to the Ureweras. Essays on Music Vol XXIII No. 2, 1990. p.165 (back)
20. Rochelle Gebbie. A Musical Revolution in Nelson. MA Thesis. p. 63

Bibliography (top)

Colonist. (New Zealand) 30/09/1893; 09/06/1894; 04/02/1896

Gebbie, Rochelle. A Musical Revolution in Nelson: The Directors of the Nelson School of Music 1894-1944. MA thesis. University of Auckland

Kulz, Werner "Nachruf auf Michael Balling". Bayreuther Festspielführer. 1927

Manchester Guardian. September 9, 1896

Mann, Shonagh "F.G.Gibbs, His Influence on the Social History of Nelson" 1890-1950.

Modern Musicians. London 1913 pp. 255-261

Musical Courier. October, 1896

Nelson School of Music Trust Board - Minutes of meetings 1893-96

Tertis, Lionel. My Viola and I. Kahn & Averill. ISBN: 187108220X. 1991

Thompson, John M. "Response to a Vision". Nelson School of Music/John McIndoe. ISBN 0 473 02689 9. 1994

Thompson, John M. "From Bayreuth to the Ureweras". Essays on Music 23. 1990

About the Author (top)

Born in Nelson, Donald Maurice didn't begin his musical studies until moving to Christchurch at age eleven. In addition to his first violin lessons, he took up the Banjo, supporting himself by playing in a dixie band from the age of fifteen. His first violin teacher was Lois MacDonald. After taking up the viola, he learned from Elizabeth Rogers. At age nineteen, he made the decision to go to London to further his studies. Initially, a job as a truck driver in Christchurch financed his airfare, his fees at the Guildhall and a few months worth of living expenses. In the U.K., his teachers included Nannie Jamieson at the Guildhall school of Music and Max Rostal at the Aldeburgh Festival. He later travelled to North America to study with Donald McInnes in Washington and with William Primrose in Banff.

Maurice established a significant free-lance career in Europe,playing with major orchestras including the Bournemouth Symphony, the London Mozart Players, the Belfast Symphony Orchestra (as principal viola), Ballet Rambert, The Berne Baroque Orchestra, Sadlers Wells and numerous touring ballets. During this time he also taught viola at Cambridge University.
He has played with all of the major orchestras in New Zealand and has toured extensively as a chamber musician in the capacity of both a violist and a violinist. In 1995, he gave the premiere performance of the Anthony Ritchie viola concerto with the Dunedin Sinfonia.
He has a special academic interest in the music of Bela Bartok. His revision of the Viola Concerto has attracted international attention and has earned him invitations to give seminars in Switzerland, the United States and Australia. In 1997, he was awarded a PhD by the University of Otago for his dissertation on this work.

More recently, he was instrumental in bringing the International Viola Congress to Wellington. He has been invited to become a member of the presidency of the International Viola Society. He is currently an Associate Professor at the Conservatorium of Music at Massey University in Wellington and enjoys a busy teaching schedule.