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Siede, Julius (1825–1903)

by Thérèse Radic

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Julius Siede (1825-1903), by F. A. Sleap, 1890

Julius Siede (1825-1903), by F. A. Sleap, 1890

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, IAN01/04/90/9

Julius Siede (1825-1903), conductor and flautist, was born in Dresden, Saxony, son of August Siede, magistrate, and his wife Amalia. Showing early musical talent, he studied under the flautist A. B. Furstenau and the composers E. J. Otto and K. G. Reissiger. Making his début at 12, Siede rapidly gained public recognition as a flautist. After touring Germany and Russia (including western Siberia) in 1846-47, he settled in Berlin but left in 1848 for a tour of the United States of America, where his playing was well received. In 1849 he was appointed musical director of the Castle Garden concerts in New York. In 1850 he travelled with Jenny Lind through the United States and Cuba. In 1851-52 Siede accompanied Madame Anna Bishop on her tour of the United States, West Indies and Mexico and he lived in New York until about 1855. He joined Anna Bishop on tour in Australia and appeared in her concerts in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney from October 1856 until about mid-1857.

Siede remained in Melbourne. One of his first solo performances was in July 1857, when he gave a 'Grande Soirée Musicale' at the Mechanics' Institute; in October and November he played again. From 1858 he conducted the earliest operatic performances at the Theatre Royal for G. V. Brooke and in November 1862 he re-orchestrated Meyerbeer's opera The Huguenots for W. S. Lyster's production; C. E. Horsley praised him for his high skill and extraordinary memory in working from nothing more than a pianoforte arrangement, and acclaimed him as 'one of the best flautists living'. As conductor for Lyster's opera company in 1865-71, Siede was regarded as 'a general favourite, who combines sterling ability with genuine modesty'. In 1863 he had organized the Headquarters Band, which for over a decade gave popular open-air music recitals, notably in the Fitzroy Gardens. In later years he attempted a revival of this type of performance by giving several seasons of 'continental concerts'. On 9 August 1870 he was associated with Horsley and David Lee as conductor at the opening of the new Town Hall. With C. G. Elsässer, J. Herz and others he took part in many fund-raising concerts both as conductor and as flute soloist.

From about 1872 Siede was conductor of the Melbourne Deutsche Liedertafel, which in 1879 split into two with Siede becoming chorus master of the Melbourne Liedertafel, and conductor in 1879-89. He was president of the Melbourne Musical Association of Victoria in 1879; it later merged into the Musical Society of Victoria, of which he was a vice-president in 1896. At the International Centennial Exhibition of 1888 he was chairman of the jury judging musical instruments. His health failed in 1889 and he appears to have been short of money despite his salary, the receipts of a benefit concert and the generosity of A. Zelman. He resigned as conductor of the Liedertafel in January 1890 and, in an unprecedented gesture, the society raised £491 for him in tribute to his blameless professional and private life and the public respect that he commanded.

Siede was also a composer though little is known of the extent of his work. He wrote two cantatas for the Melbourne Liedertafel: 'Hymn to the Night' and an 'Occultation of Orion' as well as part-songs and arrangements. He also wrote much military band music and three concert overtures: 'Faust and Margarethe', 'Festival' and 'Anthony and Cleopatra'. Aged 78, he died on 23 April 1903 at his home in Auburn, Melbourne; he was predeceased by his wife Anna, née Holzer, whom he had married on 11 February 1858 at the German Church, Melbourne, and survived by two daughters and five sons, of whom August was well known as a musician and as pianist for the Melbourne Liedertafel in 1884-1902.

Select Bibliography

  • H. M. Humphreys (ed), Men of the Time in Australia: Victorian series, 2nd ed (Melb, 1882)
  • Argus (Melbourne), 24 Nov 1862, 25 Apr 1903
  • Australasian, 31 Dec 1870
  • Illustrated Australian News, 1 Apr 1890
  • M. T. Radic, Aspects of Organised Amateur Music in Melbourne 1836-1890 (M. Mus. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1969)
  • Minute books 1878-95, scrap-book 1887, 1890 (Melbourne Liedertafel Society).

Citation details

Thérèse Radic, 'Siede, Julius (1825–1903)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/siede-julius-4579/text7519, published in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 2 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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