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Johann Secundus Kruse (1859–1927)

by Sally O'Neill

This article was published:

Johann Secundus Kruse (1859-1927), by unknown engraver

Johann Secundus Kruse (1859-1927), by unknown engraver

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, A/S27/07/85/117

Johann Secundus Kruse (1859-1927), violinist, was born on 22 March 1859 at Melbourne, son of John August Kruse, analytical chemist, and his wife Johanna, née Schultz. He was educated at A. B. Tegethoff's school at St Kilda. He showed an early musical talent and from at least 1871 gave performances with his sister at concerts organized by the Melbourne German Liedertafel and the Metropolitan Liedertafel. In 1875 Julius Herz and others organized a fund to send Kruse to study under Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) at the Berlin Hochschule of music; on 12 June he left in the Northumberland for Germany. He soon won repute as one of Joachim's foremost pupils and after a successful début was hailed as 'Joachim Secundus'. He also became principal violinist and sub-conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Society.

In June 1885 Kruse returned to Melbourne in the Rome. On the afternoon of his arrival he was welcomed by members of the musical profession at Allan's music warehouse and at night was honoured with an impromptu serenade by the German Turn Verein and others at the Oriental Hotel. He was supported in his concerts by (Dame) Nellie Melba (Mrs Armstrong). Descriptions of his performances in Melbourne were enthusiastic: the Australasian noted the 'rare excellence of his powers both as a poet-musician and as a perfect executant upon the violin' and the 'perfect sweetness, power, delicacy and rhythm' of his playing. He gave concerts at Sandhurst and at the Theatre Royal, Sydney, returning to Melbourne in late July. He was farewelled at a complimentary supper by the Musical Association of Victoria and left in the Parramatta on 11 August to become teacher of violin at the Hochschule in October.

In 1891 Kruse left the Hochschule to go to Bremen as leader of the Philharmonic orchestra there. In 1892 he joined the famous Joachim Quartet as second violin. In July 1895 he returned briefly to Melbourne to visit his dying father. He brought with him his £1100 Stradivarius and gave four concerts in Melbourne, the last on 24 August. Critics spoke warmly of him as a 'matured artist whom it is a pleasure and privilege to listen to'; audiences were large and demonstrative.

In 1897 Kruse left the Joachim Quartet and settled in London, where he revived the Saturday and Monday popular concerts with 'conspicuous success'. He also formed his own quartet. With Australian artists he played in several London concerts including one at the Albert Hall in 1898. In 1902 he organized a series of orchestral concerts with Felix Weingartner (1863-1942) as conductor and in 1903 a Beethoven Festival of eight concerts. He then turned to teaching but in the war years was troubled by poor health and hostile attitudes to his German origin. In 1921 he emerged from retirement to play chamber concerts and in 1926 founded another quartet which gave a series of competent performances of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Kruse died on 14 October 1927 in London, survived by his wife Christiane Dorothee, née Gildemeister, whom he had married on 12 September 1901 in London, and a brother who had carried on his father's business in Hawthorn.

Select Bibliography

  • W. A. Orchard, Music in Australia (Melb, 1952)
  • Australasian, 17 Apr, 12, 14 June 1875, 27 June, 25 July 1885, 27 July, 10, 17 Aug 1895
  • Argus (Melbourne), 23, 24 June, 10 Aug 1885, 24, 26 Aug 1895, 18 Oct 1927
  • Times (London), 18 Oct 1927
  • index to pieces performed (Royal Victorian Liedertafel Library].

Citation details

Sally O'Neill, 'Kruse, Johann Secundus (1859–1927)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Johann Secundus Kruse (1859-1927), by unknown engraver

Johann Secundus Kruse (1859-1927), by unknown engraver

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, A/S27/07/85/117

Life Summary [details]


22 March, 1859
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


14 October, 1927 (aged 68)
London, Middlesex, England

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