Theodor Zoellner

(Herman) Theodor Zoellner. Conductor, teacher, organist-choirmaster, b Dornburg, Saxony, Germany, 13 Apr 1854, d West Indies after 1922. The Zoellner family settled in Berlin (Kitchener), Ont, in 1861, and the father, Hans A.

Zoellner, Theodor

(Herman) Theodor Zoellner. Conductor, teacher, organist-choirmaster, b Dornburg, Saxony, Germany, 13 Apr 1854, d West Indies after 1922. The Zoellner family settled in Berlin (Kitchener), Ont, in 1861, and the father, Hans A. Zoellner (d ca 1906), who had been a singer and conductor in Germany, became a leader of local singing societies, directed two Sängerfeste, and drafted the constitution for the German-Canadian Choir Federation in 1873. The younger Zoellner studied at home with his father and in Cincinnati. In 1880 on his return to Berlin he taught voice and instruments. In 1883 he founded the Berlin Philharmonic Society, dedicated to the performance of such large-scale works as The Creation (1883) and Messiah (1887). For an 1896 performance of Mendelssohn's St Paul there were 160 voices in the choir. The instrumentalists Zoellner engaged to accompany these performances were billed, sometimes, as the Philharmonic Orchestra. He also organized and directed opera, operetta, and other performances, often employing visiting musicians. Zoellner directed two men's choirs, the Sängerbund of Berlin and the Orpheus of Waterloo, and his appointment as conductor of the 1886 International Sängerfest and the 13th Peninsular Sängerfest (1901) attested to his stature as the leading musician of his time in the Berlin-Waterloo area. The first professional musician to teach music in schools in Berlin, Zoellner served as singing master 1897-1922 in the public system and at St Jerome's College. His program was based on the sol-fa system. He involved the entire school population in choral performances in the town rink. He became organist-choirmaster ca 1890 at the Church of the New Jerusalem and held the same position (ca 1898-1908) at St Peter's Lutheran Church.