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Carl Ludwig Pinschof (1855–1926)

by Raoul F. Middelmann

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Elise Wiedermann

Carl Ludwig Pinschof (1855-1926), merchant, economist and consul, and Elise Wiedermann (1851-1922), soprano, were husband and wife. Pinschof was born on 14 April 1855 in Vienna, eldest son of Franz Pinschof, banker, and his wife Karoline Aloisia, née Gromes. His forebears, from Pinczow, Galicia, included eminent merchants, bankers and scholars. Carl attended schools in Vienna and at Coburg, Germany, and lectures at Leipzig University by Wilhelm Roscher, to whom his later independence in economic thought owed much. After a stint as management trainee with a drug company, and a year's military service leading to a commission in the Dragoons, he spent some months in his father's company before gaining banking and financial experience with the Vienna Girokassen Verein.

To widen his commercial horizon, with support from several Austrian industrialists, Pinschof became honorary secretary of the Austrian commission to the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879. Encouraged by the 209 prizes, including 95 first prizes, won by the 251 Austrian companies represented, he decided when passing through Melbourne, on his way home, to settle there. He returned in time for the International Exhibition which opened in October 1880.

Following their engagement in 1880, on 19 August 1883 at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Hawthorn, Pinschof married Elise, daughter of Carl Wiedermann, merchant, and his wife Elise, née Aschinger. Born in Vienna on 31 August 1851, Elise had in 1873 been created laureate of the Conservatorium of Vienna and had sung on the operatic stages of Vienna, Zurich, Brunswick, Hanover, Hamburg, London and Leipzig. Her principal role was Carmen.

Pinschof was appointed in 1885 honorary consul for Austria-Hungary in Victoria. In 1881 he had joined the importers and merchants Pfaff, Reichenbach & Co., which soon after became Pfaff, Pinschof & Co.; by 1893 Pinschof was trading as sole partner with branch offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. In 1900 he became a director of the reformed Herald & Weekly Times Ltd. By 1904 he had become a director of Carlton Brewery Ltd which in May 1907 formed with five other Melbourne breweries Carlton and United Breweries Pty Ltd, with Pinschof as chairman. He resigned as consul and sold his company in 1908.

From the 1890s Pinschof had become known, through his speeches and articles, for advice on Australia's economic problems. He stressed the need for a central bank, for fully paid-up shares, for long-term agricultural loans (earning him the title of father of crédit foncier in Australia), and for tertiary education in commerce and public administration. Following his forced surrender of all directorships during World War I, despite his naturalization in 1909, he wrote mainly on international issues such as the fluctuating exchange rates as a consequence of the gold/silver standard in India. He reviewed J. M. Keynes's A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923) within five months of its publication in London. Commonwealth treasurers such as Sir John Forrest enjoyed his hospitality and advice.

At the Austro-Hungarian government's insistence Mme Wiedermann was obliged to forego singing in public or for remuneration, but in 1895 Professor Marshall-Hall, impressed by her 'pure, clear resonant tone', her 'admirable system of vocalisation' and her 'thoroughly trained technical exactness', persuaded her to teach at his new University Conservatorium of Music. Some years earlier she had recognized the talent of Nellie Armstrong and had provided her with a letter to her former teacher Mathilde Marchesi in Paris. In 1900 the Pinschofs lent their full support to Marshall-Hall, Elise appearing before the university council to make 'a gallant defence'. She continued to work with him at his Albert Street Conservatorium and her return with him to the university in 1915 earned her the opprobrium of Nellie Melba who saw her desertion of Marshall-Hall's successor Fritz Hart as unpatriotic. Paintings by Blamire Young and Arthur Streeton, given her by Marshall-Hall, testify to his friendship.

Carl and Elise Pinschof became leading patrons of music and art in Melbourne. They were foundation supporters of the Marshall-Hall Orchestra; Carl was one of the founding members of the Lady Northcote Permanent Orchestra Trust Fund. In 1906-07 he underwrote a visit to Melbourne by a German opera company, organized by G. Musgrove. Their home of 1900-16, Studley Hall, Kew, provided a fine backdrop for business, social and musical functions and for the many paintings and sculptures acquired. Among these were seventeen paintings by Streeton, eight by Tom Roberts, two each by Julian Ashton, Mather, Frederick McCubbin and Withers, and several sculptures by Mackennal including 'Circe', now in the National Gallery of Victoria. Carl, after helping secretarially, obtained from Roberts the right to produce photogravures of the 'big painting', the 'Opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia', in which he and his wife feature prominently. Carl's portrait by Roberts is held in the family. The Pinschofs invested in land in Melbourne, and at Mount Macedon, where pine trees around Hohe Warte, now Camelot, are reminders of their presence.

Elise Wiedermann died at Prahran on 24 July 1922 and was buried in Boroondara cemetery. Her memory was preserved by the many opera singers whom she had trained, including Florence Austral, Elsa Stralia, Evelyn Scotney and her own three daughters, two of whom sang as Carmen and Louise Pascova. In 1962 Mona McCaughey established a scholarship in her name at the University of Melbourne.

Carl Pinschof's public career had ended in World War I when, although he was not interned, a maid reported on the family to the defence authorities. He died in Cape Town en route to Europe on 19 May 1926. His body was brought back to Melbourne where Charles Strong officiated at his grave in Boroondara cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • A. G. V. Peel, The Australian Crisis of 1893 (Lond, 1893)
  • L. Eisenberg, Grosses Biographisches Lexicon der Deutschen Buehne im 19. Jahrhundert (Leipzig, 1903)
  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 1 (Melb, 1903)
  • Smike to Bulldog—Letters from Sir Arthur Streeton to Tom Roberts, R. H. Croll ed (Syd, 1946)
  • C. D. W. Goodwin, Economic Enquiry in Australia (Durham, N.C., 1966)
  • B. and F. Mackenzie, Singers of Australia (Melb, 1967)
  • Parliamentary Papers (Commonwealth), 1901-02, 1 (D4), p 975
  • Parliamentary Papers (Victoria), 1895-96, 4 (87)
  • Table Talk, 24 July 1885, 12 Feb 1886, 21 Dec 1899
  • Herald (Melbourne), 24 May 1894, 20 June 1900, 24 May 1926
  • Weekly Times, 16 June 1894
  • Argus (Melbourne), 25, 27 July 1922, 22 May, 23 June 1926
  • D. O'Hara, Carlton & United Breweries Ltd, Co History (manuscript, University of Melbourne Archives)
  • Pinschof papers (Oesterreichisches Staatsarchiv, Vienna)
  • C. L. Pinschof book of memoranda (privately held)
  • Dept of Defence, file no 1914/194/3/295,426 (National Archives of Australia)
  • personal information.

Citation details

Raoul F. Middelmann, 'Pinschof, Carl Ludwig (1855–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 15 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


14 April, 1855
Vienna, Austria


19 May, 1926 (aged 71)
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

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