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Immanuel Gotthold Reimann (1859–1932)

by Annegrit Laubenthal

This article was published:

Immanuel Gotthold Reimann (1859-1932), musician, was born on 13 January 1859 near Hahndorf, South Australia, second son of Eduard Carl Freid Reimann, farmer, and his wife Leontina Bertha, née Schroeder. His father, who arrived from Clostowa, Prussia, in 1850, was part of the large-scale migration following the 1848 revolution. Immanuel, a fine soprano, received singing instruction at T. W. Boehm's Hahndorf Academy; from 8 he learned piano, at first with the principal, then with Mrs B. J. Price. At 14 Immanuel went to Adelaide to become a schoolteacher; a chronic throat ailment supervened and he adopted a musician's career instead. Otto Stange, whose pupils included the talented violinist Moritz Heuzenroeder, was an influential teacher. In 1875 Reimann became music master at the Hahndorf Academy. In Adelaide two years later he worked as a professional music teacher. Acting upon his father's last wish, he left for Germany in 1880 to complete his musical education.

In Berlin, where he enrolled at the pianist Theodor Kullak's renowned Neue Akademie der Tonkunst, and afterwards at the Scharwenka Konservatorium, he had some remarkable instructors, such as Heinrich L. E. Dorn, Kullak, Hans Bischoff, Albert E. A. Becker, and Xaver Scharwenka himself. Reimann gained his diplomas, returned to Adelaide, and in 1883 founded the Adelaide College of Music (Cecil Sharp was co-director in 1889-92). On 20 December 1883 in the Lutheran Church, Flinders Street, Reimann married Johanne Marie Lührs who had studied singing under him, and in Germany also, and taught at the college. They had two daughters and two sons, one of whom was mentally retarded.

From 1890 Reimann imported teachers from abroad: Hermann Heinicke, Otto Fischer and Hermann Kugelberg. The new college quickly won repute and by 1896 attracted 250 students. Reimann's urbanity and gentleness made him popular—his strongest criticism being 'Mein Gott, mein Gott, what a row'—his piano teaching, particularly, producing many good performers.

When the Sir Thomas Elder bequest enabled the foundation of a public conservatorium in 1898, Reimann's college was informally incorporated and his teachers and pupils transferred to the Elder Conservatorium of Music. The latter could only have been established with Reimann's co-operation and he handed over his college without any financial compensation. That year he experienced considerable disability, being unable to use his right arm; he went to New Zealand for treatment. His technique was of the old German style, sitting close to the piano, using fingers only. For over thirty years the conservatorium's piano teacher, eventually as assistant-director, he helped to shape the curriculum for music studies at the University of Adelaide.

Reimann was central to South Australian musical life. He became honorary pianist and director of the Adelaide String Quartet Club and the Adelaide chamber music concerts, though he did not participate in concerts during World War I. Visits to Europe kept him abreast of developments there. A long-term member of the Australian Board of Musical Examinations, he was its major editor of music. In 1891-1931, using the Backmann organ he had brought from Germany, he was organist and choirmaster at the Lutheran Church in Flinders Street. In 1930 he became the first president of the Musical Association of South Australia. Late in life Reimann was preparing an edition of unpublished pieces by Mozart, and he arranged to revise the full list of Allan & Co.'s Imperial edition of musical publications.

He died at his Norwood home on 19 March 1932 survived by his wife and children: his daughter Hilda Reimann was a noted violinist. Former students and associates erected a tombstone at the West Terrace cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • G. E. Loyau, Notable South Australians (Adel, 1885)
  • H. T. Burgess (ed), Cyclopedia of South Australia, vol 2 (Adel, 1909)
  • Cawthornes Ltd, Music in the Nineties (Adel, 1925)
  • South Australiana, 22, no 2, Sept 1893, p 93
  • Music, Mar 1897, p 9
  • Quiz (Adelaide), 15 Dec 1898
  • Australian Musical News, 1 Oct 1936, p 1, p 28
  • Observer (Adelaide), 1 Oct 1921
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 21 Mar 1932
  • Chronicle (Adelaide), 31 Mar 1932
  • M. J. Krips, History of Music in South Australia Before 1900 (B.A. Hons thesis, University of Adelaide, 1973)
  • R. Roennfeldt, A History of the First Hundred Years of Lutheran Church Music in South Australia (M.A. thesis, University of Adelaide, 1981)
  • German Settlers in South Australia (file in Australia collection, University of Adelaide Library)
  • Lutheran Church Archives (North Adelaide)
  • University of Adelaide Archives
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Annegrit Laubenthal, 'Reimann, Immanuel Gotthold (1859–1932)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 16 April 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]


13 January, 1859
Hahndorf, South Australia, Australia


19 March, 1932 (aged 73)
Norwood, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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