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Council for Research in Music Education

The Professionalism of Private Music Teaching in the 19th Century: A Study with Social
Author(s): Michael Roske
Source: Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, No. 91, Eleventh
International Seminar on Research in Music Education (Spring, 1987), pp. 143-148
Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the Council for Research in Music
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Michael Roske
Institut fur Musikpadagogik der
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universitat
Frankfurt am Main
West Germany

In the 18th century, great changes in politics, education, economics,

cultural life, art and music took place. Some of those changes can be found
in the structures of occupations, such as private music instruction. Whereas
in many schools the amount of music taught in schools decreased, private
music teaching increased steadily, peaking in the mid-19th century.

At the middle of the 19th century, private music instruction for the first
time led to a professional image of music pedagogy. The piano teacher became
the prototype of professional music instruction. Both men and women began to
regard teaching a specific instrument as their vocation (having a didactical
interest in music written for their particular instrument) . Large towns
provide a rich source for observation of the historical processes of
professionalization in the field of instrumental teaching.

Rudolf Lüdekes1 thesis, which deals with the history of private music
education in the 19th and 20th century, includes sources which are usually
neglected by the historical researcher in the field of music education.
Although Ludekes1 work is excellent, special analyses of textbooks for
instrumental teaching and examination of local archives were not included.
His method concentrates on music journals and monographical studies in local
music history while other sources of research citations are omitted. A
thorough understanding of trends in the professionalization of private music
instruction needs a broader base. Although Ludeke speaks of an emphasis on
"SociaJ history and economic history of the private music teacher occupa-
tion," he primarily adapts a theoretical concept (similar to "Gewerbefrei-
heit") to private music instruction thus writing an economic history while
neglecting the contributions of social and professional history to the
professionalization of music pedagogy.

History must describe the role of the private music teacher in terms of
the conflicts between educational and artistic life. A vocation results from
social and cultural attitudes as well as from the professional differ-
entiation between performance and the teaching and learning of music. The
present research makes a heuristic attempt towards a better theoretical basis
of music pedagogy concentrating on professional development and venturing
into relatively unexplored socio-statistical data.


While inspecting archival resource studies in Northern Germany, the author

had the good fortune to find a systematic index of private music teachers in
the directories of Altona. From these directories the structure of the
professionalization of instrumental instruction could be traced across a
period of about 50 years. Data in the directories provided a list of 100
names of instrumental music teachers. In addition the first and the last
occurrence of a name was documented for each person. The years 1802-1805,
1807-1809, 1811-1813, 1815-1827, 1829, 1831-1834, 1836, 1837, 1839, 1841,
1843, 1845, 1847, 1849, 1850 were selected. Some years were omitted due to

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144 Professionalisation

missing or incomplete directories. The use of a pattern of alternating years

from 1837 on seems to be justified by an increasing number of teachers. The
evaluation was stopped with 1850.

Data from street directories usually contain a paucity of information

about music-professions. From the alphabetic listing of names (with
addresses and professions) we can learn something about the occupations of
the population of a town. With respect to music, however, such designations
are often inaccurate. Differentiations between pedagogues and performers are
often not made in the 19th century. The term "Musicus," for instance, was
used for nearly all musical professions and does not reflect the reality of
musical life. Even census-lists are ineffective with regard to the history
of professional musicians. For example, within the records of the census in
Schleswig-Holstein from 1803, not a single notice can be found from which one
could identify music instructors. Comparing census records, however, with
the designated music teachers in the Altona street directories, some of the
"musici" of the census could be identified as full or part-time private music
instructors. Moreover, additional information was available from local
historical literature, biographies, autobiographies, and other material found
in the archives. A list which was found in the Staatsarchiv Hamburg was
analyzed. This list (made by Cantor Nicolaus Jungclaussen in 1803)
contains the names of all examined musicians who were engaged in church music
in Altona at that time. Other helpful documents included a Üst^ of
signatures by examined musicians who had introduced a petition in 1803, as
well as a paper added to a memorandum by Cantor Petersen /rom 1843 which
contained the names of examined and unexamined town musicians.


The directories and other related sources differ in quality. It is

evident that there was a disproportionate (relative to the general population
in Altona) increase in private music teachers in the first half of the
19th century (see graph). In 1802, only four music teachers were identified,
whereas about ten years later this number had increased fourfold. In 1843
(forty years later) , the number of teachers had multiplied tenfold. In
Altona, a maximum was reached when, in 1845, the townfolk could choose among
45 music teachers.

Another interesting aspect of this history is the role of female teachers.

Their entrance into the profession began rather slowly, buy by 1821 a steady
rate of growth can be observed. The number of male colleagues at times
stabilized (1813-1821 and 1833-1837) , or even decreased (1821-1825 and 1827-
1841). The percentage of female teachers, 16.7 percent in 1821, increased to
35.9 percent in 1849 (see Table 1).

Within the investigated period, the average professional teacher's

career was 10.9 years, with the range being one year to forty years (see
Table 2) . Furthermore, the average female music teacher continued her
professional activities for about 9.2 years whereas her male colleague taught
12.2 years. It is a striking fact that one third of all music teachers (male
and female) were engaged no longer than five years in the music teaching

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Roske 145


Development of Private Music Teachers in Altona


Percentage of Female Teachers in Altona from 1821-1849

Year of the
street Total of Female
directories all teachers teachers in %

1821 18 16.7

1825 16 25.0

1829 28 28.6

1833 31 22.6

1837 34 26.5

1841 31 32.3

1845 45 35.6
1849 39 35.9

The musical instruments on which instruction was sought show a particular

preference for the pianoforte distantly followed by voice, violin, and

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146 Professionalisation


Duration of Instructional Activity of Private Music

Teachers in Altona Between 1800 and 1850

*The sex of 4 persons could not be identified from the material.

guitar. Among the private music teachers in Altona, 45 percent instructed at

least two instruments. (26 percent taught two, 15 percent three, 4 percent
four or more instruments, and 8 percent could not be identified.) Of the
remaining 47 percent who offered instruction exclusively on one instrument,
33 were piano teachers.

Of the 100 music teachers, more detailed data for 76 persons were found
from which conclusions about their activities could be drawn. The street
directories and the census list or registers of musicians found in the
Staatsarchiv Hamburg make it possible to delineate three work situations for
private music teaching:

1) full time music teachers,

2) music teachers with additional music related employment, and

3) music teachers with additional employment in nonmusic fields.

Group 1 consists of 32 persons being identified by specifications like

"music teacher," or "gives music lessons on the guitar." Among the 34 music
teachers belonging to group 2, there was a considerable number of military
musicians (13 persons) , performers in the band of the Altona militia. Group
2 is completed by organists (who in most cases possessed only an honorary
position in the church in the 19th century) 10
as well as by precentors,
instrumentalists, music directors, and composers, but also an instrumental
craftsman, an instrumental manufacturer, a chorus member, and a female owner
of a music shop. Among the ten members of the group with an additional,
nonmusical occupation, a variety of activities were identified. Some private
teachers gave lessons in fields other than music, and there was a teacher in
an orphanage, a tradesman dealing with linen, a mechanic, a banker, and even

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Roske 147

a chief of a lottery branch office. The latter was married to a music

teacher and even his activities included collection of taxes and sale of
books and paper. Two others appear to have been actors.


There is ample material in Altona documenting females with a private music

vocation in the -first half of the 19th century. Among the 33 piano teachers,
22 were female. Apparently, piano teaching early on became the domain of
(mostly married) women. Besides piano teaching, however, there seems to be
some evidence for a rather gradual feminization of the entire music teaching
profession. The unsteady status of the private music teacher, evident in
rapidly changing vocational descriptions, was a special problem of female
music teachers. Males, however, usually had relatively clear-cut vocational
descriptions. For instance, nearly a fourth of the males were specified as
"Musiklehrer" (music teacher; 9 times) , "Privatlehrer" (private teacher;
once) , "Lehrer der Guitarre" (guitar teacher; 2 times) , "Lehrer der Musik"
(teacher of music; once) , or "Clavier-Lehrer" (piano teacher; once) .
Although the German language knows female forms for these terms they were not
used in much of the Altona material.

The statistical analyses show a good deal of mobility within the music
teaching profession. Nearly one third of the teachers were not engaged in
music lessons longer than five years (see Table 2) suggesting a rather mobile
occupational field. Increased demand for musical instruction was answered by
a reduction in the quality of teachers in part because professional
regulation of teacher training did not yet exist.

Because the average music teacher career encompassed 10.9 years, private
music teaching demonstrated a certain amount of stability in Altona. More
complete statistical data from biographical or local studies might afford
deeper insights in this sphere. However, the present investigation has
already revealed some interesting relationships between the stability and the
quality of instruction. Sustained teacher careers apparently enhance local
music history.

A striking example of this is Johann Peter Rudolf Reinecke (1795-1883) ,

whose teaching activities can be followed for 23 years through the Altona
street directories. At the end of this period this descendant of a rather
poor family of craftsmen was promoted from his private teaching status to a
public position of music teacher in the teacher training institute at
Segeberg. Reinecke 's biography traces his professional career to the music
life of his birth town in many ways. He was engaged in both private and
public music activities within and beyond the urban frontiers of Altona for a
long time.

Reinecke exemplifies a type of music teacher in the 19th century who tried
to raise professional standards while securing higher status in a broader
social context, by no means an easy task for that time. To this day, the
instrumental teacher is not yet free from the conflicts of the very real, yet
ever-changing, social structures within music and music teaching.

It is no question that problems of identification and pedagogic develop-

ment within musical teaching focus on theoretical aspects of the profession.
Historical research can, by documenting the development of music instruction,
give music pedagogy (a younger discipline) some basic understanding of its
foundations. Better information about the historical situations and struc-
tures of music teaching can help the profession to manage increased or sudden
demands. Music pedagogy is confronted with such demands not the least of
which have to do with current forms or models of teacher training.

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148 Professionalisation

Social history of the music teaching profession as a result of open-

minded methodical research might not only contribute to a better understand-
ing of the process of professionalization but could lead to practical
consequences in teacher training by improving the alternatives for profes-
sional development in music teaching.


^chunemann, G. (1931). Geschichte der deutschen Schulmusik (Tell 1. 2nd, rev

edition). Leipzig, p. 284 ££.

2Lüdeke, R. (1958). Zur Geschichte der Privatmusikerziehung in 19. und 20. Jahrhundert
Ein beitrag zur sozialen und wirtschaft lichen Entwicklung des privaten Musikerziehungswesens
in Deutschland von der Einführung der Gewerfebreiheit bis 1920 (2nd Vol.). Ed. Diss.
Berline (Humboldt-University) .

Today the street directories are to be found in the Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Al tona was an
independent town belonging to the Danish empire in the early 19th century but is now a
suburb of the Freie Hansestadt Hamburg.

4Staatsarchiv Hamburg - Dienststelle Altona: Bestand 3, Abt. XXXII A ii A/66, Altonaer

S tad turns ikanten-AX ten No. 38.

5Altonaer Stadtmusikanten-Akten No. 37, folio 2.

6Altonaer Stadtmusikanten-Akten No. 46, folio 5.
Around 1850 Altona counted about 32,000 inhabitants which means an increase of about 39
percent over the census of 1803.

Duration of instruction here is defined as the difference between first and last
occurrence of a music teacher in the evaluated years of the Altona street directories. No
attention was paid to names missing from the intervening, single years.

The term "additional employment" cannot describe a difference in occupational emphasis

if there was more than one professional activity because a decision as to whether an
occupation was full-time or not was impossible using the present data. If could also not be
determined whether different activities were carried out successively or simultaneously.

Cf. especially: Edler, A. (1982). Der nordelbische Organist: Studien zu Sozialstatus,

Funktion und kompositorischer Produktion eines Musikerberufes von der Reformation bis zum
20th. Jarhhundert. Kassel u.a. Kieler Schriften zur Muslkwissenschaft. Hrsg. von F.
Krummacher, H. W. Schwab. Bd. 23.

This number is related to female teachers who exclusively gave piano lessons. Only two
female teachers did not teach piano at all.

2A case study on this matter was undertaken by the author in another context: Roske, M.
(1985). Sozialgeschichte des privaten Musiklehrers vom 17. zum 19. Jarhhundert, mit
Dokumentation. Mainz. Muslkpadagoglk: Forschung und Lehre. Hrsg. von S. Abel-Struth.
Bd. 22.

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