Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Linger, Carl Ferdinand August (1810–1862)

by John Horner

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

Carl Ferdinand August Linger (1810-1862), by unknown photographer, c1860

Carl Ferdinand August Linger (1810-1862), by unknown photographer, c1860

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 6746

Carl Ferdinand August Linger (1810-1862), musician and composer, was born on 15 March 1810 at Berlin, son of an engraver. His parents encouraged him to study music under notable teachers and he started his composing career with six sacred songs dedicated to the princess of Prussia. After visiting music schools in Italy, he won repute for composing operas, masses, symphonies, cantatas and other musical works. In the unsettled conditions of 1848 a Berlin Migration Society was formed by Richard Schomburgk and others. With a party of intellectual Germans, Linger and his wife Wilhelmine sailed from Hamburg in the Princess Luise and arrived at Port Adelaide on 7 August 1849; a daughter was born on the voyage.

On 30 August Linger applied for naturalization and received his certificate on 1 September. Unable to find work as a music teacher and unfamiliar with the English language, he was persuaded to buy eighty acres (32 ha) at Munno Para about eighteen miles (29 km) from Adelaide. With his brother-in-law, Hermann Komoll, he built a house, cleared and fenced land and grew potatoes but after eighteen unhappy months he was in debt. He left his family on the farm and with two shillings in his pocket went to Adelaide. He found work tuning pianos and noting music scores, and three weeks later brought his wife and child to town. Helped by the wife of Andrew Murray, he won access to the best Adelaide families as a music teacher and by 1852 had paid his debts, taken 'a beautiful house' on North Terrace and bought 'a magnificent instrument for 300 dollars'. In March he wrote to his mother about his good luck and respectable standing, and offered to pay her passage to Adelaide. His 'Ninety third Psalm' and 'Gloria' appeared in a printed programme of 1855, and his 'Concert Overture' is dated 1856. An undated manuscript of four songs for soprano and pianoforte has also been preserved. He had conducted Adelaide's first Philharmonic Orchestra and in 1859 its first performance of Handel's Messiah as well as helping to found a Liedertafel. He had often visited the Lutheran pastor, G. D. Fritzsche, at Lobethal to attend his choir rehearsals. Linger was active in most of the musical and choral societies, often presiding or performing at their concerts. Extremely modest, especially when asked to publish more of his works, he invariably answered, 'Germany has plenty of better music than mine in manuscript'.

At the second anniversary of the Gawler Institute in October 1859 a 'Song of Australia' competition was held with prizes of ten guineas for the best words and the best music. Of the 96 poetic competitors, Mrs Caroline Carleton (1819-1874) won the prize for her five verses; in 1923 her admirers placed a granite memorial in the Wallaroo cemetery.

Linger won ten guineas for the music and the Song of Australia was sung in public for the first time on 12 December 1859. Although used widely in South Australia, it did not displace God Save the Queen as the national anthem or Advance Australia Fair first published in 1878 by W. H. Paling & Co. in Sydney. Linger's wife died of consumption in Adelaide on 7 April 1860. He then married Christiane Mathilde Hogrefe; their only child was born in Adelaide on 6 May 1861. Linger's health was then failing and, despite an intention to visit Berlin, he died from dropsy on 16 February 1862. He was buried in West Terrace cemetery and left an estate of £1200 to his wife. Although he had stimulated the taste for music in South Australia he was soon forgotten, but in the State's centenary year a subscription was raised for a sandstone monument, eight feet (2.4 m) high, over his neglected grave. The memorial was unveiled by the premier before a thousand people and the 'Song of Australia' was sung.

Select Bibliography

  • E. H. Coombe (ed), History of Gawler 1837 to 1908 (Adel, 1910)
  • L. A. Triebel (ed), ‘A Carl Linger letter’, South Australiana, 2 (1963)
  • Register (Adelaide), 17, 18 Feb 1862, 28 Dec 1894
  • Observer (Adelaide), 23 July 1935
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 21, 22, 26 Nov 1935, 17 June 1936, 16 May 1959
  • biographical note on Mrs Carleton, 1047/5 (State Records of South Australia).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

John Horner, 'Linger, Carl Ferdinand August (1810–1862)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 26 October 2016.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2016

Carl Ferdinand August Linger (1810-1862), by unknown photographer, c1860

Carl Ferdinand August Linger (1810-1862), by unknown photographer, c1860

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 6746