In PART 1 of my “Work in Progress” report on the book I am working on, “The Strange Story of Hermann Gebler”, I wrote:
“I became interested in the story of Hermann Gebler when my youngest brother Jerome, who still lives in Cobh, County Cork, told me about two years ago that he had come across amongst my mother’s papers –she died in 1994– a one-page letter from Hermann Gebler to Mrs. Mitchell dated October, 1944. It was chatty and appreciative in tone, and it was written on Herman Gebler’s own letterhead –a musician and music teacher living in Waterford city– incorporating his German music credentials, including the famous conductors he had played under (such as Furtwangler, Richard Strauss and other famous names.) In it he passed on best wishes to various members of our family, and mentioned that my eldest cousin Mary O’Shea would be starting her very first violin lesson with him that week.”
Shortly afterwards I received a comment from Dermot Murray –qv above– who is a tenor in the Christchurch (Dublin) choir. He came across my mention of Hermann Gebler. It turns out that Dermot’s mother was a student of Hermann Gebler’s in Waterford –violin, I am imagining, but maybe viola– and Dermot remembers, as a young boy of five, often accompanying his mother to her lessons. There he met “Herr Gebler” and “Frau Gebler” who was an accomplished piano teacher (she had taught at the Frankfurt Conservatory –formerly the Dr. Hoch Conservatory. It is said by some that she herself was a student of Clara Schumann, thought that must be “a student of a student of CS” because of the age differences. I will have to check that out. If you do have any information or comment on any of this, please do let me know.)
Dermot Murray, who lived in Waterford at the time –the early fifties, I estimate– also remembers HG riding around Waterford on his bicycle with a motor fitted. His other recollection is hearing HG talk about how much he liked the films of the Marx Brothers. Apparently he was especially taken with the Fourth Brother, Harpo, with his harp.
(By the way, Dermot did something that many of us tend to do –he apologised for the “unimportance” of his recollections. I immediately corrected him on this –it is especially important to me to have these personal observations, to flesh out the personality of Hermann Gebler. I am hoping that Dermot –and many others– will come up with some more stories and observations.)
I am here reproducing in its entirety the original HG letter that my brother Jerome found. The letterhead is itself of great interest –as, of course, is the text of the letter:
Expert, Viola and Orchestral Playing
in Frankfurt Conservatorium
Member of Frankfurt String Quartet
Member of Frankfurt Museum
Orchestra for 13 years under the
conductorship of Richard Strauss,
Mengelberg, Furtwangler, Ballin
Carl Theatre Orchestra, Vienna
(* NOTE : All this on the left
hand side of the letterhead.
On the right, the address:
43 Lower Newtown, Waterford,
and below it a line of some 40
dots, on which to write the date.
HG’s letter is dated: 13.X.44. The
text is as follows:
Dear Mrs. Mitchell…
(Note: wife of
Billy Mitchell, the North German
Lloyd shipping agent in Cobh, who got
Hermann Gebler off the NGL ship,
and close friend of my mother.)
Dear Mrs Mitchell.
Many thanks for your kind letter, which I received on my arrival from Cork. I am very sorry that I had not the pleasure of seeing you at the Concert, and regret that I could not manage to call to see your brother. I do hope to meet you at the next Concert which is on the 17th December. I am indeed sorry that your husband is not so well. I am glad to hear that the children are in good health and back at school. I was in the Ursuline Convent on Tuesday last & the nun informed me that Miss O’Shea is taking her first lesson on Monday.
I thank you ever so much for your kindness and the trouble (you went to) in order to get me that pupil.
Kindest regards & all best wishes to yourself and your husb & all the family.
Kindest regard to family McCormack.
yours very Sincerely
HG was a music teacher at The Ursulines Convent in Waterford, where my oldest cousin Mary (from Macroom in West Cork) was a boarder.
HG also taught at the Quaker School, Newtown, in Waterford.
I discovered –thanks to Google– that the complete archives of the Waterford Music Society (of which HG was a founding member, in June 1942) are available online. It lists all the WMS concerts –right up to the present– complete with program and players. (An incredibly useful resource for my HG Project.)