Kornelius Neufeld

Kornelius (Herman) Neufeld. Choir conductor, educator, administrator, composer, b Nikolajewa, south Russia, 10 Dec 1892, d Winkler, Man, 14 Jan 1957. As a youth he studied voice at the Moscow Cons and with Max Pohl in Berlin and sang in Moscow's Simin Opera Chorus.

Neufeld, Kornelius

Kornelius (Herman) Neufeld. Choir conductor, educator, administrator, composer, b Nikolajewa, south Russia, 10 Dec 1892, d Winkler, Man, 14 Jan 1957. As a youth he studied voice at the Moscow Cons and with Max Pohl in Berlin and sang in Moscow's Simin Opera Chorus.

Emigrating to Canada in 1923, Neufeld settled in Winkler, a Mennonite community south of Winnipeg. He organized the Bergthaler Church Choir there in 1928. He subsequently established and conducted choirs and instrumental groups among Mennonite communities from Ontario to British Columbia, and for this work was nicknamed 'the Wandering Conductor.'

Neufeld considered it his mission, among Canadian Mennonites, to 'transform a cultural hinterland into a singing people.' The prevailing tradition of Mennonites in Canada at the time excluded secular forms of musical expression, and Neufeld has been credited with creating an increased tolerance of the secular repertoire. He accomplished this by founding in 1936 the Winkler Musical Festival, which stimulated the establishing of similar events in other Mennonite centres, and by strengthening regional choral workshops in conjunction with the traditional Mennonite 'Sängerfeste.'

Neufeld attempted to establish a western Canadian Mennonite music publishing operation and indeed published his own choral works (see Catalogue of Canadian Composers) and two cantatas, To the Youth and Zion, the City of God (1952). He also imported music published by Swiss companies. In later years, however, the business continued only as a printing company.


Further Reading

  • Brown, Frank. History of the Town of Winkler Manitoba: 1892-1973 (Winkler 1973)