English conductor Sir Thomas Beecham made the comment that “during the nineteenth century German musicians had played the greatest role in English music.”
Far away in New Zealand, Germans formed the second-largest immigrant group after the British. Around 10,000 Germans settled in this country between the early 1840s and the start of World War I. Surely this must have had a significant impact on the burgeoning NZ musical scene.
Musicologist Samantha Owens wondered about this, and did some investigation.
Banner Image: Bandleader/composer Rudolf Mersy conducting his fellow internees on Matiu/Somes Island. Mersy and his German band were among the first Germans arrested in New Zealand in August 1914, just a couple of months after World War I broke out. Image: National Library of New Zealand, Hart, Roger. Ref: 1/2-112230-F collection, photographer unknown.
Germans in Maoriland is presented by Samantha Owens and Shelley Wilkinson. It was produced and engineered for Radio New Zealand Concert by Shelley, the narrator is Peter Sledmere and the early 78 recordings of various musicians were either kindly loaned by Peter Dalley and Paul Downie, or were from Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero.
Samantha Owens (pictured) is a historical musicologist based at Victoria University in Wellington.