Frédérick Glackemeyer

Frederick (b Johann Friedrich Conrad) Glackemeyer. Band conductor, string-instrument and keyboard player, music dealer, teacher, b Hanover 10 Aug 1759, d Quebec City 12 Jan 1836. Since EMC 1981 appeared, it has been confirmed that Glackmeyer was born in 1759, not 1751.

Glackemeyer, Frederick

Frederick (b Johann Friedrich Conrad) Glackemeyer. Band conductor, string-instrument and keyboard player, music dealer, teacher, b Hanover 10 Aug 1759, d Quebec City 12 Jan 1836. Since EMC 1981 appeared, it has been confirmed that Glackmeyer was born in 1759, not 1751. His father, Wilhelm Glackemeyer, played the fife in a military band in Hanover. All that is known of Frederick's childhood was related a century and a half later by Nazaire LeVasseur; it suggests anecdotal exaggeration. At five he began to learn the viol, and his rapid progress and precocious virtuosity soon drew him to the attention of princes and nobles, who invited him to play at their court. Despite the prospect of a brilliant future in his native Germany, LeVasseur recounts, the youth, lured by a spirit of adventure, embarked with his instruments on a sailing ship bound for Canada. Recent research has confirmed that he was recruited into one of the mercenary regiments assembled for service in Canada under the command of Baron von Riedesel, and that he probably arrived at Trois-Rivières in June 1777 at the age of 17. Considering that the youth could hardly have found a teacher in Canada, but must have depended henceforth on his own resources, LeVasseur's picture of a child prodigy assumes some credence. It has been documented that Glackemeyer gave lessons to the baron's two daughters during the winter of 1783 on one of Quebec City's few pianos. He was discharged in June 1783 with the rank of a private, not a tambour or hautbois, the customary designations for military musicians, and his musical activities as a soldier are not documented. However, on his discharge, Riedesel offered him a position as organist in Germany. Glackemeyer preferred to stay in Canada and accepted 'a considerable present in guineas' (Roy quoting the musician, BRH, Jul 1916, p 195). On arrival in Quebec City, the seat of government and the cultural capital of Canada, Glackemeyer began teaching viol, bass-viol, violin, and piano. Advertisements which appeared between 1784 and 1819 illustrate his activity as an importer and dealer in musical instruments and sheet music, a repairer of instruments, a piano tuner, and a music teacher.

Glackemeyer evidently wanted not only to earn a living but also to foster the development of music in the area. There were subscription concerts in Quebec City at that time, and Glackemeyer, with Francis Vogeler, is known to have taken part in them, at least in 1790 and 1791. LeVasseur relates that Prince Edward, later Duke of Kent, who lived in Quebec City 1791-4 and was a music lover, held the German musician in high esteem and put him in charge of the regimental band.

A Lutheran who converted to Roman Catholicism, Glackemeyer was organist 1816-18 in the Quebec Basilica. Glackemeyer is known to have been vice-president in 1820 of the Quebec Harmonic Society, but presumably was its founder in December 1819. He apparently imported numerous chamber music and orchestral parts (preserved in the Séminaire de Québec) for the society. He left several unpublished compositions. Two piano scores were located by Louise Courville at the Petit Séminaire de Québec in the 1970s, the 'March [sic] composée pour le Revd. Mons. Tabeau. Pour la solemnité [sic] de S. Pierre et S. Paul' (ca 1807) and 'General Craig's March,' possibly composed at the governor's arrival in 1807. Another march, Châteauguay, not yet located, was played 24 Sep 1818 at a dinner given by the citizens of Quebec City in honour of Lieut-Col de Salaberry, hero of the battle of Châteauguay (1813). The march for Father Antoine Tabeau is printed in CMH (vol 4) and recorded by the Trio Nouvelle-France in their own instrumentation (RCI 500), which became the Ensemble Nouvelle-France (Siscom SC-08211/Harmonia Mundi HMB-5145). There also survive voice and piano arrangements by Glackemeyer of two 'chansons des voyageurs canadiens,' 'Mon père a fait faire un étang' and 'En roulant ma boule roulant,' in a manuscript notebook from ca 1817.

Glackemeyer is remembered best as a pioneer; his great influence was due to his competence and the far-reaching effects of his teaching. He can be regarded as the first professional musician to have made a long and lasting contribution to Quebec City and one of the fathers of Quebec musical life. One of his daughters, Henriette-Angélique, married Theodore Molt, and a grandson married a daughter of Brauneis senior.

See also Louis-Édouard Glackemeyer (his son).


Further Reading

  • Roy, Pierre-Georges. 'La famille Glackemeyer,' BRH, Jul 1916

    LeVasseur, Nazaire. 'Musique et musiciens à Québec,' La Musique, May, Jun, Jul 1919

    Kallmann, Helmut. 'Frédérick Glackemeyer: des données nouvelles sur sa vie et son style musical,' Cahiers de l'ARMuQ, 8, May 1987

    DCB, vol 7