Memoirs of Madame Giulia Pelzer

Published by Robert Coldwell on

Typescript in Appleby Collection, Guildhall School of Music. Transcribed by Robert Coldwell, 11 Jan 2015.

A long life, graced with interesting and varied experiences, which bear a rich harvest of happy memories, is the lot of only a fortunate few, but amongst these few, must surely be placed Madame Giulia Pelzer, who was born in London, on December 11, 1837, at 39 Great Portland Street, and who is still living at 2, Southampton Street, Bloomsbury Square, which has been her home and studio for the last sixty-six years.

Though naturally unable to lead as active and busy a life as she used to do, she still follows the events of the day with warm interest, especially those connected with Music and the Drama, and her correspondence – letters arriving even from far distant places – is a source of great pleasure to her. She replies to all letters herself and her handwriting, still clear and well-formed, is remarkably easy to read.

Friendships formed in the Past still live as friendships in the Present, not in dim fitful gleams of Memory, but in the actual touch of hand with hand, for she greets her friends, her past and present pupils, in her Studio, and many hours of mutual enjoyment are spent there, as she sits talking to them, surrounded by all the interesting mementoes of her artistic and musical career, and not only of her own, but those of her father and sister, for she is the daughter of Ferdinand Pelzer, who was the famous guitarist and teacher, and her sister was Catherina Josepha Pelzer who became Madame Sidney Pratten, whose name is so well-known to all Guitarists of the present day, both in England and abroad, and whose beautiful compositions for the instrument never fail to give the greatest pleasure to both player and listener.

The Guitar was scarcely known in England before 1809 though it was both well known and played in most of the countries of Europe before that date, and Lulli, in France, and Monteverde, in Italy, had composed for it and used it in the orchestra.

It was Ferdinand Sor, a native of Barcelona, who first made it known to the English. He was a member of an Operatic Company, and had fought on the side of Spain, in the Peninsular War. Then, taking refuge in France, he later crossed over to England, bringing his instrument with him.

His clever performances immediately attracted attention and brought the Guitar into public notice, but it was Ferdinand Pelzer who gave the real impetus to Guitar playing in England and established it in public favour, for his style of playing and his skill as a musician, revealed in a way hitherto unknown, the instrument’s capabilities, its expressive tones and beautiful harmonies.

Ferdinand Pelzer was born in 1801 at Treves, the ancient capital city of the Rhine Provinces. His father, Jacob Pelzer, a clever and famous mathematician, was the Headmaster of a College whose standard of tuition and reputation were so high that students from all parts of the country sought for admission.

He had a family of several sons, the youngest being Ferdinand, who grew up and underwent his military training during the years that the Continent was still suffering from the effects of the French Revolution and the ambitions of Napoleon.

One of his brothers, some years after, went to America, and buying land in Carolina, founded what came to be known as “The Pelzer Colony.”

Ferdinand had inherited his father’s skill in Mathematics and assisted in the collage teaching, but also found time to study Music of which he was passionately fond. Though Singing and the Pianoforte both shared his attention, the Guitar was his favourite instrument, and recognising its possibilities and beauties, he studied it with enthusiasm.

The college was a large building having on the ground floor, a spacious hall, which was used as a lecture room. Above was a long gallery, on to which opened class-rooms and studios, and it was in this college that were billeted, during a sudden French invasion, the French General Legrand, with his principal officers, and a band of soldiers.

      The General was accompanied by his wife, and his only child, a young girl named Marie. She had a fresh complexion, dark eyes and an abundance of dark hair, fine as silk, and possessed a voice that charmed all who heard her sing.

      What more natural then, than that Ferdinand should fall in love with her, as he accompanied her on the Guitar when she sang the favourite airs from the Operas?

      And what more natural, too, than that she should fall in love with the instrument and its player – a young man above the medium height, fair-haired and blue-eyed, and of attractive manners?

      War’s alarms may perhaps have interrupted the course of true love, but they did not hinder it, for General Legrand, giving his consent to his daughter’s marriage, the ceremony took place in 1820.

      They had decided to spend their honeymoon in London, and when crossing the Channel there occurred one of those unexpected meetings that often cause a change in one’s plans, and sometimes even charge the course of one’s life.

      On the boat was an English officer – a Captain Phillips, who was evidently attracted by their appearances, but not knowing who they were, judged them to be brother and sister.

      It was clearly the young girl who attracted him the most, for he seized the first opportunity of finding her alone for a moment, to try and make her acquaintance. It so happened that her husband had left her to go below to bring her some refreshment and on returning (no doubt more quickly than the Captain either expected or wished) found him in his bride’s company, endeavouring to talk to her in her own language. Ferdinand, who had a good knowledge of English, immediately expressed his surprise and annoyance, in the Captain’s own tongue, and demanded an explanation of his behaviour.

      All the Captain could do was to apologise, which he did most profusely, and the incident ended more happily than it might have done, for it was the beginning of a loyal friendship.

      The Captain asked Mr. Pelzer where they were going to stay while in London, and on being told the name of a hotel, said “Oh no. Come and stay with me. I have a large house in Grosvenor Place. There is plenty of room. I shall be very pleased if you will come.”

      So Mr. Pelzer and his bride, no doubt greatly interested, and warmly appreciating the Captain’s kindness, cancelled all their other arrangements and accepted his offer, and this acceptance proved the commencement of Ferdinand Pelzer’s musical career in England, for the visit was prolonged and the Captain introduced his two young guests to the best English society of that day.

      George IV was on the throne, and the aristocracy sought pleasure and amusement in glittering functions and evening parties, and very soon the Guitar was heard in their drawing-rooms, and by its expressive tones and beautiful harmonies, established itself as their favourite instrument.

      Mr. Pelzer immediately became in great request as a teacher, and he was called upon to play at concerts and evening parties. His first pupils were the Duchess of Argyll, the wife of the sixth Duke, and the Lady Elizabeth Mary, the youngest daughter of the first Duke of Sutherland.

      In 1821 [ed. 1831?] Mr. Pelzer and his wife went on a visit to Mulheim-am-Rhein, where General Legrand was then stationed, and it was while there that his first child was born, and received the names Catherine Josepha, who was destined to become the renowned Teacher and Composer, whose solos so feelingly express in Music the words of Shelley in his beautiful poem “with a Guitar.”

      On returning to London, they took up residence in Albany Street, Regent’s Park, where a house had been taken and made ready for them by Captain Phillips. Not only had he furnished it throughout, but even the coal-cellar had been stocked with coal. Such an act of friendship could spring from nothing less than great appreciation of Mr. Pelzer’s character and talents.

      The years that followed were brilliant in Musical events, and Mr. Pelzer was greatly in request to play at Concerts, Musicales, end at the evening parties given by the nobility, in whose families he also gave lessons, gathering around him a large circle of interested pupils and influential friends.

      In this musical environment, grew up his daughters, Catherina Josepha, Annie and Jane, and his son Ferdinand. They were taught the Guitar and the Piano, and by the time that Catherina was seven years of age she had made such progress, and so gifted was she, that she could play Giuliani’s third concerto for the Guitar, and had played in public in England and on the Continent .

      In 1831 there came to London many of the great Guitarists of the time – Regondi, Schulz, Giuliani and Legnani, and Sor again returned after a tour of Continental towns. Among this group, Regondi stands out as a youthful prodigy. Though not more than ten years of age at this time, he had already played in the chief cities and towns of Europe, and not long after his arrival in London concerts were given in the Hanover Square Rooms, at which he and Catherine Josepha Pelzer played duets together and their youthful appearance and clever performances created quite a sensation.

      Paganini, the Violin Virtuoso, also arrived in London, and at one of his concerts played duets for Violin and Guitar, Legnani being the Guitarist.

      Paganini, himself, had learned the Guitar when as a youth he lived in Italy, and after the Violin, it was his favourite instrument. “I love the Guitar” he once said “for its harmonies.”

      It was at this time that Mr. Pelzer did so much to perfect the art of Guitar-making. He co-operated with these great Masters of the instrument, during their stay in England, and called upon the well-known makers, Panormo and Lacote to employ their labour and skill in making Guitars according to their improved designs, and the result was instruments perfect in proportion and finish, and of great beauty of tone.

      By 1836 Mr. Pelzer had removed with his family to 39 Great Portland Street, and the Concerts he continued to give were always eagerly looked forward to. Moscheles, who was resident in London, as pianist and teacher, often played at these Concerts, in duets for the Guitar end Piano. He also gave lessons to Mr. Pelzer’s daughter, Jane.

      It so happened that while visiting Mr. Pelzer one day he heard someone practising in an adjoining room. He listened silently for several minutes, and then evidently struck by something unusual in the playing asked “Who is playing the Piano?” “It’s my little girl, Jane,” replied Mr. Pelzer. “Well” said Moscheles, “if I may be allowed, I should very much like to have her as my pupil.”

      Mr. Pelzer, greatly pleased, readily gave his consent, and the little girl became the favourite pupil of Moscheles. It was for her that he arranged the Fantasia inscribed – “A brilliant Fantasia for the Pianoforte. On a favourite Cavatina from Rossini’s Zelmira. And a ballad from Mozart’s Seraglio. Composed for his pupil Miss Jane Pelzer, by J. Moscheles.”

      It was published by Metzler und Madame Giulia Pelzer has the copy her sister used. She has also the book of Guitar Music written by Carulli, Carcassi, and Molino , which Captain Phillips presented to Mr. Pelzer on June. 10, 1836 “as a pledge of friendship and an acknowledgement of his talent “

      Among Mr. Pelzer’s increasing circle of pupils were Lady Augusta Frederica, the second daughter of the Marquis of Aylesbury, and the Ladies Elizabeth Georgiana, and Constance Gertrude, the two young daughters of the second Duke of Sutherland. Their Governess, the Countess Debinski, a Russian lady, also received lessons from him.

      It was while he was once on his way to Stafford House[1] , the residence of the Duke, that he had the misfortune to break one of his legs, through falling from the top of the omnibus on which he was riding. Long weeks of forced leisure followed, which were however much enlivened by the visits of friends, and we may be sure that Mr. Pelzer did not allow these weeks to be a period of idleness. He was a Composer as well as a teacher, and utilised them by writing many of the solo and dances that became so popular, and the tutor that was recognised as a standard work.

      When Mr. Pelzer was able to resume his teaching, the Duke of Sutherland always sent his carriage to bring him to Stafford House, and he was driven home again when the lessons were finished – one of the many acts of kindness and courtesy for which the Duke was so well-known.

      The next years – the first of queen Victoria’s reign – saw Giulia Pelzer growing up into childhood, followed by her little brother Christie and her youngest sister Cunigunda. When about four years of age Giulia was walking in Portland Place with her nurse, who was carrying Christie in her arms. The nurse was dressed in the fashion of the early Victorian days, wearing a coal-scuttle bonnet, a lore shawl and long wide skirts. Giulia also wore the child’s dress of the times, frilled trousers, long frock and a little bonnet.

      Intent on watching everything that was passing before her eyes, Giulia suddenly let go her nurse’s skirt and wandered away to get a better view of something that had attracted her. Presently she returned, and, as she thought, caught hold of her nurse’s dress, but soon to her great surprise, found herself with a lady, whom she had never before seen, and who was giving her into the charge of her nurse, smilingly saying “that she did not belong to her.”

      It being found necessary for the family to have a change from town life, Mr. Pelzer now took a house at Exeter, and they stayed there for about seven years, living near Northernhay, “a lovely hill” as Giulia called it. She was a lively, vivacious child, with blue eyes, and light golden hair, which fell in full round thick curls on to her shoulders.

      She and Cunigunda had lessons on the piano and Guitar, and they were Bent to a small Preparatory School. An old lady who lived near them, in the same terrace, would often look out for them on their way to school and taking Giulia indoors would fill her pockets with figs, raisins, currants, and other things that children love.

      Giulia made a special friend of a farmer’s little girl, who went to the same school. Whenever opportunity offered, they would roam away together, and during the blackberry season would always know where to find the richest and ripest blackberries.

      From Exeter, Mr. Pelzer, with his daughters Annie and Jane, travelled to various towns, giving Concerts and training boys and girls in Choral Singing, on a method peculiarly his own, which was later adopted by most teachers of singing . At Farnham, a Concert was given in the Grand Hall, and his pupils gave selections before a large audience, the Bishop of the Diocese requesting a repetition of Haydn’s “Lord of All.” Annie played the Guitar and the English Wheatstone Concertina (invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1829, and then having a long run of popularity) and Jane gave Pianoforte Solos.

      After the Concert, Mr. Pelzer was presented with a silver snuff-box and case, in which was inscribed “Presented to Mr. Pelzer by his pupils at Farnham, to mark their sense of his kindness and assiduity, as their instructor in Class Singing, and to be a remembrance of March 21, 1843.”

      He also gave a Concert in the large dining-room at Powderham Castle, Exeter, the seat of the Earl of Devon. Pupils, numbering from 250 to 300 voices, came from the surrounding districts. They performed “Harmony”, “The Happy Choirs,” “The Mariner’s Hymn,” and the Catch “Poor John is dead” to an appreciative audience.

      Giulia though scarcely ten years of age, was capable of giving a lesson in her father’s absense. One of Mr. Pelzer’s pupils at this time was Sir Stafford Northcote, who later became the first Lord Iddesleigh. He used to ride on horseback into Exeter from his home “The Pynes” at Upon Pyne, and stabled his horse at the New London Inn. One afternoon while Mr. Pelzer was giving him his Guitar lesson Giulia and Cunigunda were playing in the garden. Their play was interrupted by a tap on the window and they saw their father beckoning to them to come in. Entering they were told to sing “Sweet Good Night.” They took up their small guitars and sang it together. Sir Stafford must have been struck by the way in which Giulia played her accompaniment, for when, some weeks later, he came to receive his lesson and found that Mr. Pelzer was not at home he asked that Giulia might be allowed to take her father’s place and give the lesson, feeling sure that she was quite capable. So Giulia was brought into the room and became Sir Stafford’s teacher for that hour, using as a pointer the long pencil that he offered her. A young teacher, surely, but one whose cleverness and intelligence were equal to the role she was called upon to play.

      “I am going to Rome, very soon, to see the Pope” Sir Stafford said, when the lesson was finished “and I will bring you a present when I return.” Sir Stafford kept his word and brought back with him a rosary which Giulia greatly prized, as she did several other presents he gave her.

      Giulia was a general favourite, her father’s pet end her mother’s little companion and helper. She used to love to brush her mother’s long dark hair, and the day that her little brother Christie was lost, she it was, who helped most of all in the search for him. They thought he must have wandered far away, and searched everywhere for him, without success. Mrs. Pelzer then notified the Exeter Town-crier who “cried” the loss of the little boy, his age, and his appearance. Mrs. Pelzer and Giulia were sitting together, anxiously awaiting the result and hoping that the little wanderer would soon be brought safely home when a peculiar sound came from a large cupboard in the room. Wondering what it could be, they opened the door, and there, before their eyes, was Christie, curled up in a corner, eating blackberry jam, some empty jars beside him, and his lips and cheeks showing unmistakably with what delight he had been spending his “lost” time. So great was the pleasure at finding him safe and sound, that punishment for his raid on the jam was unthought of.

      But little Christie’s next adventure had not such a happy ending, and his death was a deeply-felt sorrow to all the family. One year there was a very hard winter, and the water dripping from the water-butt in the garden, froze into long icicles. They attracted Christie and he was discovered with one in his mouth, swallowing the water as the icicle melted. Shortly afterwards symptoms of illness appeared. He was immediately put to bed and the doctor was sent for, but neither the skill of the doctor nor of the nursing could save him.

“Mother” he whispered faintly, as the end drew near “there’s a little boy at the window.” Mrs. Pelzer followed his gaze, but saw nothing. Presently the words were repeated. “There’s a little boy at the window – a little boy, mother.” And Mrs. Pelzer knew as he lay dying in her arms, that he had seen his guardian angel who would meet him when he passed through death into life.

Catherina Josepha made a cross for his little grave in the cemetery.

But pleasures sometimes follow on the heels of sorrow and Giulia had the delight, in 1847 of hearing Jenny Lind sing the Soprano Arias from Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment.” The great singer, having finished her operatic engagement in London, was making a tour of the chief towns and cities and appeared at the Exeter Subscription Rooms.

Before the family left Exeter, early in 1849, they suffered another loss by the death of Jane, who died of brain fever while still in early youth.

Once again in London they took up their ordinary occupations. Annie received pianoforte lessons from Richard Harvey, and instruction in the singing of some Spanish songs from Don Ciebra and Regondi, who was once more in London after a long tour through Europe, gave her lessons on the Concertina, on which he was an expert performer, and for which he composed solos and concertos. At these lessons, Giulia was made to sit in the room as a chaperone, which must have been somewhat tedious to one of her brightness and vivacity.

Giulia, herself, made quick progress in music, though there were times when she wilfully refused to practise.

Annie found her one day amusing herself when she ought to have been diligently practising. She took her into an upstairs room and forcing into her hands “Magnall’s Questions” – that book of torture for the young of those days – told her to learn by heart the pages she had chosen. Then she went out, locking the door behind her. It is not at all improbable that Giulia threw the book into the farthest corner of the room. However, she always enjoyed her music lessons from her father, whether on the Piano or the Guitar, for although he was of a passionate temperament, he was a most patient and painstaking teacher.

He had once been giving Giulia a lesson on Beethoven’s C Minor Sonata – the Pathetique – and when it was over he sat down to rest and enjoy his pipe. It was always the rule in the house that at such times he was never to be disturbed. Giulia remained in the room, quietly occupied, and presently her father fell asleep.

Cunigunda came in and tapped her smartly on the arm, indicating that she was ready for a game. Giulia, not feeling inclined, took no notice. Cunigunda then gave her a forceful push, Giulia, suddenly roused to anger, sprang up. Then began a chase round the room. In the rush one of them caught against their father’s foot, knocking off his slipper. He awoke like an angry lion. The children fled to a room at the top of the house, their father following. Cunigunda took refuge in a cupboard and Giulia dashed under a bed. Her father, discovering her, brought her out, and leading her downstairs by the ear, dropped her on to the piano-stool. “Play” he commanded her. She commenced to play the Sonata again, no doubt feeling very glad that her punishment was so light and pleasant, and when she had finished the Andante, she found that he was leaning over her, the tears running down his cheeks, and she heard him say “What a wonderful man was Beethoven, to write such Music!”

There was another occasion when Giulia showed a great disinclination to practise, and declared that she would rather help with the family washing. Her parents allowed her to have her way, knowing full well what the result was likely to be.

So with a large apron folded round her she took her place in the wash-house with the washer-woman. She had the garments and socks to soap, soiled parts to rub, and she stood on a stool before the copper, pushing down the clothes with a stick. The washerwoman was silent. Giulia was very happy, obeying any orders that were given, and taking dinner and tea with the washer-woman. When the work was finished, and bed-time came, she went, in happy spirits to say good-night to her parents.

But there was no response, such as she had expected.

“We don’t kiss a washerwoman” her father said solemnly.

She turned to her mother and was met by the same words. When she left the room, she was a sadder little girl than when she entered it, and at an early hour the next morning she was seated at the piano, practising earnestly.

But pleasure must keep step with work, and where young people are together, there will be the need for fun and jollity; so it happened that Giulia, Cunigunda and Ferdinand decided to have a little masquerade after their own fancy. Mr. Pelzer had always free entree to any theatre, so they arranged to carry out their plan, one evening, when he and their mother were at the Opera. As secrecy was necessary, they first asked their Irish servant, who had been left in charge of the house, if she would not prefer to have the evening free, and to go out. She confessed she would, and was delighted to receive their permission.

When she had gone, they dressed themselves up in order to hide their identity. The two girls clothed themselves in shawls belonging to the Irish servant, and Ferdinand wore his father’s coat and put on a pair of large-rimmed spectacles. Then taking their instruments – Ferdinand his Concertina, and his sisters their Guitars, they left the house, and locking the door behind them, hid the key under the mat. They made their way towards Regent’s Park, quite unconcerned, indeed no doubt amused, at the enquiring and curious glances of the passers-by.

They stopped before one of the large houses, and standing at the entrance, commenced to play “Beauty’s Praise” from Weber’s “Preciosa.” At its conclusion, and just as the last notes died away, the door opened, and a butler appeared, who handed to them a half sovereign. Surprised and delighted at this golden gift, their thoughts immediately flew to the pleasures to be obtained from it, and very naturally they hurried away to the shops that sold the best sweets and confections. Then they returned home not only to share the feast and enjoy it, but to avoid the discovery of their absence, and the consequences that they knew might follow.

Luckily they arrived home as secretly as they left, and no one was any the wiser, but for Giulia and Cunigunda, this little prank had a sequel. For months afterwards, whenever their wishes came into strong opposition with Ferdinand’s, he would threaten to divulge the whole affair, and declare that they, themselves, had been the instigators of it.

In any case, the consequences for Giulia at least would have had a quick termination, for her father, very often, liked to take her with him when he went to give a lesson. It was on one of these occasions that she was taken to the house of Mr. George Hudson, so well-known as “The Railway King” owing to the number of railway lines he projected and financed.

While Mr. Pelzer gave the Guitar lesson to Mr. Hudson’s young daughter, Giulia found much to interest her, and when the time came for them to leave Mrs. Hudson asked that she might be allowed to stay to lunch and spend the afternoon with them. Giulia’s blue eyes shone with pleasure when she heard her father agree, and it turned out to be an afternoon of something more than pleasure; it was memorable, for she drove out with Mrs. Hudson in a handsome barouche, with coachman and footman in grey livery, and she saw (Queen Victoria driving out with her two eldest children, the Princess Victoria and Edward Prince of Wales. The two royal children interested her greatly especially, as she knew they were only just a few years younger than herself.

Mr. Pelzer, who often travelled to various towns to give lessons, was one day called to Peterborough by a lady who was residing at the Great Northern Hotel during the absence of her husband in India. Her name was Mrs. Wilkinson and she was accompanied by her little daughter, a child of about ten years of age. During the weeks of Mr. Pelzer’s stay, the little girl listened to the Guitar lessons her mother was receiving, and to the music Mr. Pelzer played, and often expressed a wish to learn. At last a small guitar was obtained for her, and the time that she had spent in amusing herself, was now given up to learning the instrument that had so greatly attracted her. Her perseverance and steady practice resulted in her being able to play, in a few weeks, the accompaniment to the song “Du, du liegst mir im Herzen.”

Mr. Pelzer happened to mention that his young daughter could play, and often sang that song. Mrs. Wilkinson at once asked him to let her come and stay with them. So Giulia, to her great delight, was brought to the hotel and stayed for a time as the guest of Mrs. Wilkinson. The two children were allowed to arouse themselves unhindered and permission given to them to play about the hotel, except when a train was coming into the station. They were told that they must watch the railway signals, which could easily be seen from the windows, and if they indicated the arrival of a train, they were to retire and not be anywhere in sight when the travellers entered. The railway system being, in those days, almost in its infancy, but few trains were arriving , and the children soon found out when to expect one.

One afternoon they saw a train signalled, and at once ran into a little room situated at the end of a corridor. There they used to take their guitars as there was nothing in the room that could provide them with much amusement during the time they were obliged to remain in it. They commenced to play, and an elderly lady, who had arrived, hearing the sound of music and young voices singing, “Du, du liegst mir im Herzen” walked along the corridor and opening the door of the room from whence the voices came, entered. Her eyes fell on the two children, each in strong contrast to the other. Giulia, with her light golden hair falling in full thick curls and her younger playmate, very dark, with curls in thin corkscrew fashion.

“You darlings!” the lady exclaimed, clapping her hands. She wore a cashmere shawl that had a broad white border, and across the front of her bonnet lay a grey silk feather. As she advanced further into the room, a brooch fell from her dress. Giulia noticing it, ran forward and picking it up, returned it with a curtsey.

The lady smiled and thanked her. Then taking the brooch she pressed it into Giulia’s hand, telling her to keep it. It was a gold coronet brooch, and has ever since been greatly prized, for the giver, as Giulia learned a little later, was the Duchess of Kent, the mother of Queen Victoria. She had been on a visit to Burleigh House, the seat of the Marquis of Exeter, and had arrived at Peterborough, on her way to London.

In a few weeks Giulia’s visit came to an end, and she had to bid good-bye to her little playmate. Once more at home, she was made to attend school with more regularity, and she devoted as many hours as she could to the study of music and her instruments. By the time she was fourteen she was ready to take part in a Concert given by Annie.

Giulia at this age was well-grown. Her hair was still as golden, her eyes still as blue, as they had been in early childhood. Her complexion was clear and fair and her rounded cheeks carried a rosy colour. She had well-shaped hands.

The Concert was held at 45 Dover Street, Piccadilly, the London residence of Mr. and Mrs. David Jones. Their estate at Pantglas, was situated a few miles from Carmarthen, the town Mr. Jones represented in Parliament. A numerous gathering of the nobility assembled for the concert. The house was large and beautifully appointed and the richly dressed company produced a striking effect. Mrs. Jones stood on the first landing and greeted the company as they were ushered up the stairs by servant-men dressed in grey jackets and breeches, silk stockings and buckled shoes. Then they passed on into the concert-room, which had the appearance of having been embowered in flowers.

The programme was well-arranged and attractive. Ernst and Pratti, the one as renowned on the violin as the other was on the ‘cello, both took part in it. Annie was the sole pianiste and played also with Ernst and Piatti, in some of Beethoven’s Trios. An interesting feature was her performances on the Concertina. She played several of Regondi’s solos and gave duets for Concertina and Piano. In these latter, Giulia was her accompanist. It was her first appearance as a performer in public. She wore a dress of white muslin. She had bronze sandal shoes with the cross-over elastic on the instep, and her hair was dressed in curls according to the fashion of the time.

When she had finished her part of the programme and had played the last chords she rose from the music-stool, and as if seized by a sudden impulse, fled from the platform. She was hurrying towards the artists retiring room when an old gentleman whom she had to pass, caught her between his knees. “Oh, please let me go” she gasped, surprised and frightened. The next instant she was free, but not before he had pressed a kindly fatherly kiss on her cheek. Later Mrs. Jones who had witnessed the little incident, came to her and told her that the old gentleman was the Duke of Wellington, the victor of Waterloo.

This appearance at her sister’s concert was not intended to be the commencement of Giulia’s career; she was still youthful and further study was necessary, as well as association with other girls of her own age, as her sisters were both many years her senior, and were already established as teachers, and occupied in the demands their profession made upon them. Catherina Josepha had a gracious patron in Lady Henry Somerset, whose friendship drew her into the rjght environment and atmosphere for the development of her career and her happy talent for composition.

After another year at home Giulia was sent in 1853 to the Benedictine Convent at Hammersmith. Here she had not only good tuition but the advantage of daily contact with many girls of her own age. One special friendship was made with the daughter of Augustus Pugin, the famous architect.

Mr. Pelzer visited the Convent once a week to give lessons in Singing, Harmony, the Guitar and the Piano, and found many earnest students. In the large grounds that surrounded the Convent grew a fine full-leaved mulberry bush. In summer the girls would sit around it, busy with sewing, mending and reading. Here Giulia would bring her guitar and play and sing to them, her friend Margaret Pugin undertaking to do her sewing for her.

At the back of the Convent, the grounds stretched towards the open country. There were walks bordered by trees, and here the girls were not allowed to roam except by special permission and under safe conduct and supervision. They used to call this “going into the country.” The surveillance would appear strict, but on the whole the girls were entirely happy at the convent. Giulia spent about three years there, during which things had progressed and interesting events taken place in the musical life of the family in London.

In September 1854, Catherina Josepha was married to Mr. Robert Sidney Pratten, the renowned Flautist and continued, as Madame Sidney Pratten, her interesting career as teacher of the Guitar and Composer. Annie and Cunigunda had a wide circle of pupils for the Piano, Guitar and Concertina and gave annual Concerts which were held in the New Beethoven Rooms in Queen Anne Street, Cavendish Square.

These Concerts were given under the partronage of the Duchess of Sutherland, the Duchess of Argyll, and the Countess Grosvenor. At a concert held on April 9, 1856, the following programme was gone through.


Part I

Quartette in E flat Op. 16. Piano, Violin, Viola, Violoncello (Beethoven)

      Miss C. Pelzer, Herr Witt, Mr. Ries & Mr. Withers

Serenade “Deh! vieni alia finestra.” (Mozart)

      Mr. Walworth

Solo Pianoforte “La Violete” (Herz)

      Miss C. Pelzer

Duett. “Tell me, where do fairies dwell.” (S. Glover)

      Misses Favelli

Serenade. Violin, Viola, Violoncello, Concertina, Guitar (De Call)

      Herr Witt, Mr. Ries, Mr. Withers, and the Misses Pelzer

Part II

Cavatina “Infelice” (Verdi)

      Mr. Walworth

Concertante Piano and Violin (De Beriot)

      Miss C. Pelzer and Herr Witt

Duett “The Hunter”

      Misses Favelli

Ballad “Martin, Man-at-Arms” (Loder)

      Mr. Walworth

Duett Pianoforte (Herz)

      The Misses Pelzer


In those days, the Musical Profession had ample opportunities and a wide field before it. Music in the home, being, as now, a necessary relaxation and enjoyment, was then provided by the family itself, fathers and mothers sometimes taking part. Some accomplishment for the daughters was the acknowledged standard and rule of the home, and each learnt the instrument of her choice. Besides, a girl, especially if she were of nice appearance, who possessed some accomplishment, whether instrumental or vocal, was sure to be popular and a welcome guest everywhere, and this knowledge was a great incentive to the learning of some instrument, and the ambition to rise above the attainments of the mediocre players.

Madame Pratten’s pupils came to her from the families of rank and wealth. One young girl was so beautiful that it was difficult for Madame Pratten to keep her eyes and thoughts on the lesson, she was constantly drawn to look at her and study her features and expression. It was during those days – days of a busy life and a happy congenial marriage, that she composed most of her songs and solos for the guitar, as well as duets and trios. She also brought out a Tutor, with the excercises simplified and short solos easily arranged, which she wrote especially for those students whose social engagements prevented them giving as much time to the study of the instrument as they would have liked. Madame Pratten’s compositions for the Guitar were different from any that had been written before; she introduced new effects, arranged phrases and combinations of notes and chords, that showed the capabilities and beauties of the instrument in a manner that was entirely new.

She loved the Guitar and could make it respond to every mood and feeling and to the lightest touch. The Guitar does not thrust its tones upon you; it demands a listening ear, and a sensitive mind attuned to the same spirit that its tones reveal. From its six strings can be drawn the voice of the Piano, Harpsichord and the Harp, and Madame Pratten made it speak in each voice.

She rose to eminence in her profession, and a pupil once remarked to her that she must feel very gratified at her great success both as a teacher and composer, and Madame Pratten replied by covering her face with her hands and saying: “l feel as meek as a little mouse.”

Wien Giulia returned from the Convent, she did not remain very long at home, for she had a strong desire to gain some experience abroad. Cardinal Manning, a friend of the family, suggested she should go to the Convent of Notre Dame, a few miles from Malines, and teach the Guitar and the English language. Giulia fell in with the suggestion and the opportunity presenting itself, and all arrangements being favourable, she decided to go.

Her father gave her a Lacote guitar, an instrument of great beauty of tone, which he told her “would carry her through the world” – the truth of which she has since proved. He took her to the boat, and as she was travelling alone, requested the kindly notice of the Captain on her behalf. He introduced her to a French lady on board, travelling to Brussels. She spoke almost perfect English and gave friendly attention to Giulia, inviting her, before they parted at Antwerp, to come and visit her. It was very late when the boat arrived, so Giulia went for the night to a hotel. After a breakfast of coffee, rolls and butter, she continued her journey to Malines.

She was soon at her ease in her position as teacher and felt much interest in the foreign faces before her, and though the domestic arrangements of the Convent had not the same comfort and convenience to which she had been accustomed she quickly adapted herself to them. The food provided was ample and nourishing, good rich joints of mutton and beef having a plentiful place in the menu. The daily life was well regulated and work was not allowed to encroach on leisure.

During her stay at the Convent a lady arrived from Brussels on a visit, bringing her little girl Melanie, with her. She was the wife of Monsieur Vanderstraten, the Burgomaster of Brussels. During her visit, she became acquainted with Giulia and taking a great liking to her, asked her to spend her next holidays with them, and to give English lessons to Melanie. Giulia agreed. She felt, on her part, that it would be a pleasure to meet her again and make her further acquaintance, and she liked Melanie, who was bright and intelligent, and of a docile disposition.

On arrival at Brussels, several weeks later, she was greatly impressed by its fine imposing buildings and she noticed with interest the rather elaborate head-dress adopted by the women.

She met with every consideration in the home of the Burgomaster, who dwelt in a house that consisted of two parts, one part of great age and the other a more modern addition. She shared their comfortable family life, and evenings spent at the Opera House were both an enjoyment and an education. It was while staying with Madame Vanderstraten that she had a strange experience, one that few, even older than herself would have passed through with the same coolness and courage.

Her bedroom was in the old part of the house – a room in which sounds from the outside were only faintly heard. In the middle of the night, she woke up suddenly from a deep sleep and felt instinctively that she was not alone in the room, although she heard nothing, nor could she distinguish, in the darkness, any form or movement. She lay quite still, listening for the slightest sound, her eyes piercing the darkness. Then came the feel of hands creeping over the bed. She was certain there was no one standing at the bedside, yet the hands wandered with a gentle pressure over her form. Then gradually they ceased. In the morning she spoke of her curious experience and Monsieur Vanderstraten explained “Oh that was my old Granny; she died in that room. She comes sometimes, as if she wanted to know there was still somebody occupying it.” Giulia refused to change into another room; she continued to use the one given her to the end of her stay.

The family led a rather uneventful and quiet life. Monsieur Vanderstraten was old, thin and very tall. His wife, about thirty years of age, and charming as well as pretty, did not seek the ordinary pleasures that might be expected from one of her years and station, but seemed to prefer the same quiet life, even but rarely entertaining her friends. Giulia, amidst this placid existence, found her own amusements, and spent time in study, and at the end of the holidays returned to the Convent.

The passing years brought changes to the family at home, and Giulia decided to leave the Convent and return to London to continue her teaching there.

Her father had died suddenly from heart failure, as he sat resting in his chair. With many and sincere expressions of regret from friends and pupils he was laid to rest in Kensal Green Cemetery, in 1861, in the same grave as his wife, who had not long pre-deceased him. A few years later Annie Pelzer was married to Dr. Althaus, and was gradually relinquishing her teaching to retire into private life.

Giulia once more in London, established herself as the foremost teacher of the Guitar. Energetic, and greatly interested in her art, and especially in those whom she taught, she had not long to wait for pupils, and soon found herself with an increasing clientele. There were many who came to her for instruction, who intended to be teachers themselves, and to be able to say that they had been the pupils of Miss Giulia Pelzer, was the “hall mark” and guarantee of their standard of tuition and capability.

The marriage of Giulia to Mr. King-Church took place on December 10th 1867, at the Catholic Apostolic Church in Gordon Square. Relatives, friends and pupils attended in such numbers that the Church was crowded. Giulia’s wedding-dress was of white silk, her veil covered her face, and fell around her in enveloping folds. Her bouquet, her bridegroom’s gift, was composed of beautiful large lilies. Dr. Grasman, who had been her mother’s physician, gave her away, and the reception was held at the house of Mrs. Humphreys, a personal friend.

The honeymoon was spent at Hythe, in the country house of General King, Royal Staff Corps, a relative of the bridegroom. It was a comfortable, delightful house, surrounded by grounds, and in summer there grew white currants as large as cherries. General King called it “The Tomb” because it was this house to which he retired when he felt the need of rest in the silence of the country.

When Mr. and Mrs. King-Church returned to London, they lived for a time in a house in Bloomsbury Square. They occupied the upper rooms, those below being used by a lady called Mrs. S., the tenant of the premises. Everything went happily, until in the course of time a little daughter was born to Mrs. King-Church. Then Mrs. S. strange as it may seem, was seized with a jealousy that knew no bounds. She herself had never had the gift of a child, and to see the happiness of another person in what had been denied to her was more than she was able to endure. Whenever she could, she made opportunities to meet the baby’s nurse, and fell upon her with all kinds of questions, and expressions of spite poured forth from her. The nurse, advised by Mrs. King-Church tried as much as possible to avoid meeting her, and if it happened that an encounter took place she always passed on with unheeding ears and a silent tongue.

Before long, Mr. King-Church decided to find another house, and eventually he brought his wife and child to 2 Southampton St. Bloomsbury. Thirty years before, it had been the house of Dr. Steggall, a brother of Charles Steggall, Mus. Doc, and it was here that Mrs. King-Church had been brought after her christening, Dr. Steggall and his wife being her godparents.

Mr. King-Church made several improvements in the house making it more adaptable for the needs of family life, and the entertainment of friends. He was a clever designer of houses, and in this capacity had been employed to plan both town and country houses for many wealthy and influential people. Mrs. King-Church found that the needs of family life end the attention required by a large house, left her no time for her profession, so she relinquished it, and devoted herself entirely to the home, feeling that in it, and in the care of her family, lay her first duty. In the years that followed she became the happy mother of nine children, whose general education, on reaching school age, was entrusted to Miss Woods who had a Preparatory & Kindergarten School in Queen’s Square. But Mrs. King-Church did not allow her musical talent to lie idle; she gave it for the entertainment of her friends and the education of her children. It was now that she and her husband attended the wedding of Cunigunda, her only unmarried sister, who became the wife of Mr. Arthur Roots, a Solicitor.

After fifteen years spent in the work of wife and mother she once more entered public life and resumed her teaching. In her professional capacity she reverted to her former name and soon became known as Madame Giulia Pelzer. 

From this time began the busiest years of her life. Still having the oversight of her home, she received her pupils and took lessons herself on the Mandoline from the great Italian Christofaro. Then she turned her attention to Art Needlework, inventing new stitches and designs in Oriental and Antique forms for use in embroidery. She held exhibitions of her work, the Duchess of Newcastle inviting her to give one at her house. These exhibitions at once drew the attention of ladies who already were skilled in needlework, but who had never attempted any designs in such rich and uncommon forms, and they requested Madame Pelzer to make further designs and to teach them her stitches. Lady Gordon-Lennox, the Countess of Lanesborough and Lady Fanny Fitz-Wygram were amongst the many who received instruction from her. The work of Madame Pelzer’s own hands – bedspreads, hangings and cushions, found their way into many aristocratic homes, and she designed and made five smoking-coats for English and Foreign ambassadors.

In 1887 Madame Pelzer was appointed as teacher of the Guitar and Mandoline at the Guildhall School of Music. The lessons were arranged with great regularity, following each other in quick succession, and she was obliged to remain at her post for seven consecutive hours only broken by a few minutes allowed for a little refreshment. Each lesson was of half an hour’s duration and pupils were expected to be regular and punctual, so as to take their places exactly to the minute. And they had to finish as punctually. If a pupil happened to be late Madame Pelzer, rather than remain unoccupied, would continue the lesson she was already giving.

Many young girl-students came under her tuition at the Guildhall School. One was the daughter of Lady Nicholson, a girl with fair hair and beautiful violet eyes.

Concerts were held every year in the Steinway Hall and Recitals given regularly in the Practice Boom of the School. Solos, duetts and Trios were performed from the works of De Beriot, Greig, E. German and Elgar, and the guitar music from the compositions of Sor and Madame Sidney Pratten. Colonel Temple and Mr. Henry Truscott, the youngest son of Sir Francis Truscott, the Lord Mayor of London in 1879, were among the performers. Mr. Truscott had a good tenor voice and sang traditional Guitar songs to his own accompaniment.

A young girl who had for some time been receiving lessons from a Mandoline teacher and had not made much progress, at last entered the Guildhall School and come under Madame Pelzer’s tuition. One day while the lesson was in progress, Sir Joseph Barnby, who had not long succeeded Mr. Weist Hill, as Principal of the School, happened to be going round to each class room, to note how the students were responding to their teaching, and entered Madame Pelzer’s room, remaining hidden behind a tall piano. He heard her pupil complain “I have tried this chord a thousand times, and I cannot play it yet.” Madame Pelzer said “Well, we will play it six times, then I think you will be able to play it easily.” And she explained the nature of the chord, its position, and how it was to be fingered. The pupil followed her instructions exactly and was able to play it without any difficulty. Before he left, Sir Joseph Barnby asked Madame Pelzer to come to his private room at her first opportunity, when later she went there, he congratulated her, and said “What tact you have in teaching, Madame Pelzer. I wish some of the other teachers would show as much when they give a lesson.”

Besides her attendance at the Guildhall School of Music, Madame Pelzer was occupied with her private pupils, five of whom resided in Lowndes Square. To three of them she gave instruction in designs and stitches for embroidery, and of her pupils for the guitar one was Mrs. Pitt-Draffen, an elderly lady who told her that as a girl she had heard Schulz play, Madame Pelzer mentioned that she, herself, possessed his Guitar. It had been given to her father by Schulz, as he lay on his death-bed, in 1860. Mr. Pelzer, during the last months of suffering that Schulz had to endure, ministered to him in many ways, and provided him with beef jellies and various delicacies prepared by Mrs. Pelzer.

Mrs. Pitt-Draffen wished to have the Guitar and would not be satisfied till it was sent to her. In time, however, she found it was too large for her to play with ease, so she was obliged to return it.

She had a bull-finch, a special pet, that always seemed to like company and the sound of music. Once, during a lesson on the soprano air “Ciascum lo dice” from “La Fille du Regiment” Madame Pelzer took up the guitar and in order to show how certain chords should be played to accompany the voice, sang it through. No sooner had she commenced than the bull-finch began to pipe his own accompaniment to it, keeping in the right key to the end. Mrs. Pitt-Draffen was so surprised and delighted that she immediately removed from her finger a single-stone diamond ring and presented it to Madame Pelzer, who, however, refused to accept it, as she had already received from her hands many gifts, including some of lovely lace.

Mrs. Gillespie, another pupil, was once playing near an open window. A dove flew in and settling itself in her work-basket remained there until the music ceased.

But in contrast to these, an accident once happened. Madame Pelzer had arrived at Lady Cooper’s house in Surbiton to give her pupil her usual lesson. It was summer, and Lady Cooper always liked, when the weather permitted, to receive her lesson in the garden. Everything being in readiness except for the guitar, Lady Cooper told her little girl, a child of six, who was playing about in the garden, to go into the house and bring her instrument from the drawing-room, In a few minutes she returned, bringing a guitar that was a remnant of jagged edges of Swiss pine and satinwood, a voiceless guitar, that had once been a perfect specimen of Panormo’s workmanship. The little girl had run with it, trailing it behind her, through the hall, and down the stone steps into the garden.

The autumn of 1895 was a sad one for Madame Pelzer. The health of her sister, Madame Sidney Pratten, had been giving some anxiety, and despite all the means taken to restore her, she passed away early in October. Although seventy-four years of age, her love for her profession induced her to teach almost to the last, and she died with mental faculties still active. Hers had been an industrious life, spent in happy surroundings, that were darkened only when her husband died in 1868. In the first years of widowhood, grief had stayed her hand for a time, but when her mind had recovered from what she felt to be a crushing blow, she resumed her teaching, and again began to compose and give Concerts. These were held at Steinway Hall, and at the residences of The Duchess of Newcastle and Mrs. Sassoon.

H.R.H, the princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne was Madame Pratten’s pupil and gave her patronage to these Concerts, also being present when other social engagements allowed. The Princess very often took her lessons after dinner, and at 11p.m. would send for Madame Pratten, who usually hired a carriage to take her to Kensington Palace, but General Landers, whenever possible, gave her the use of his, and as it passed through the gates, the sentry, recognising the rank of its owner, always saluted.

At the Concerts held under the patronage of the Princess, Madame Pratten performed her own compositions, repeating the general favourites “Elfin’s Revels,” “Eventide,” “The Indian March,” and “A Spanish Romance.” She was assisted by famous artists of the time, songs being rendered by Mlle. Titiens, Madame Sainton Dolby, and Miss Maud Santley, and pianoforte solos were given by Tito Mattei.

Madame Pratten received her pupils in the drawing-room of her house in Dorset Street, Portman Square. It was a room filled with numerous curios, musical instruments, and a great many volumes of music, while countless photographs of friends and pupils, and quaint china and bric-a-brac occupied every table and cabinet. Everything in it was an interesting evidence of her busy and varied life.

Guitarists who played her compositions, and especially those who were fortunate in coming under her tuition and advice, heard the news of her death with great regret, and her funeral in Brompton Cemetery was largely attended.

It was now left to Madame Pelzer to continue the musical traditions and history of the family, as teacher and performer. While giving unstinted time to her pupils, who now included the wife and eldest daughter of Sir Frederick Milner, and others of rank and position, she gave her usual concerts, and turned her talent to writing solos and various studies for the guitar. The care of the house was still in her hands, and though the eldest members of the family made no calls on her time, the youngest required her motherly attention. Whenever she had a few minutes to spare she employed them by working out designs for embroidery.

Into these busy days with their interesting associations there came another bereavement, one that touched her more closely than the death of her sister, Mr. King-Church, whose devoted companionship had made their marriage an ideally happy one, passed away in 1896. She was not alone in her sorrow, family and friends shared it with her, and their many tokens of sympathy and kindness helped her through the weeks and months that followed, until she was able to take up, and once more, weave together the threads of her life end profession, and look forward bravely to the unknown future.

To visit her friends, and especially to entertain them in her own home, were, apart from her profession, two of her greatest pleasures, and she was able for years to do both, but the Great War, with the upheaval and the chaos that it brought, changed the current of her life, and disordered the smooth routine of her daily occupations. Many of her pupils felt called upon to use their time and substance, in every way they could, for the needs of the Empire and its defenders.

Madame Pelzer faced these years, and their empty hours, with the inborn courage that was always here. Her difficulties called forth new efforts, and she filled the time formerly given to teaching, in various occupations, devoting much to correspondence with her absent pupils and friends.

When the war was over and people began to resume their normal lives, Madame Pelzer found herself once more in her Studio at work on the things she loved. Of her pupils, not all returned to her. Some had died under war conditions and others had made new ties and gone to live in distant places.

She had some very earnest students of the guitar, who were articled pupils, and she taught, by correspondence, two young Japanese at Tokio. Their letters written in almost correct English, were more than usually interesting .

A lady named Mrs. Jack, living at South Yarra in Australia came over to England, to place her daughter at College. She was the widow of a Government official, and being a guitarist, wished to have some tuition during her stay in London. Madame Pelzer’s name was brought to her notice and she went to see her at her studio and entered on a long course of lessons. In the friendly intercourse that ensued she told Madame Pelzer several things concerning her life, and of the death of her husband.

They had come over to England in 1902 for the Coronation of King Edward VII. They stayed at the Ritz Hotel and enjoyed so much being in London that they extended their visit several weeks longer than they intended. They entertained lavishly, sparing no expense. They day before their return they gave a luncheon party, and afterwards she went for a drive in Hyde Park, her husband preferring to remain indoors and rest. When she arrived back some time later, she found him dying from what was proved to be a serious malady of the stomach. There was no hope of saving him.

It was a tragic end to their visit. The coffin containing tier husband’s body, was conveyed in the same vessel in which she sailed on her return journey, and on arrival was taken to South Yarra, where the burial took place.

Her love of music, she told Madame Pelzer, and her study of the guitar had been a great solace to her ever since.

Madame Pelzer allowed her to take her lessons on her own instrument, the Lacote guitar that her father had given her, and Mrs. Jack one day expressed a wish to buy it. But Madame Pelzer told her it was not for sale. Mrs. Jack seemed much put out and gave way to an attack of nerves and temperamental disturbance. Madame Pelzer calmly but sternly told her to control herself. Her words took effect and Mrs. Jack expressed regret. Madame Pelzer who had been greatly touched by the story of her life, felt much sympathy towards her, and promised to lend her the guitar, on certain conditions, but that the idea of selling it could not be entertained.

When Mrs. Jack returned to Australia, she had the pleasure of taking the guitar with her. It remained in her keeping till her death in early Summer 1931. Then her son wrote to Madame Pelzer informing her of his Mother’s death and saying that he would return the instrument. It arrived in perfect condition just before Christmas of the same year.

To Madame Pelzer it was as the return of a faithful well-known friend. Only those who love their instruments – and there are many who do – can understand this feeling. Like a valued much-read book, an instrument is a companion for all time, responsive to all the calls made on it, to every mood and feeling, whether of joy or sorrow.

In Madame Pelzer’s surroundings the Past and the Present dwell side by side, in musical association. In her studio are the guitars once possessed by the famous, both men and women, who trod the stage of life, playing their part in the days of the last century. There is the guitar that was Napoleon’s prized possession, on which he played his accompaniments when he sang to Josephine, in the hours snatched from war. It was recovered during his disastrous change of fortune, by Captain Bachville, who fought under him, and who later gave it, battered, soiled and dilapidated as he found it, to Ferdinand Pelzer, whose pupil he became. It was afterwards sent to Lacote, its original maker, to be repaired and renewed. Madame Pelzer has also the Guitar used by Madame Malibran, the renowned singer and daughter of Garcia. It is a handsome inlaid instrument as is that made specially by Panormo, and presented as a gift to Ferdinand Sor. This is not the only one belonging to that great player, there is an older one with the old form of peg-head.

Further additions to this interesting collection are the guitars of Regondi and Ferdinand Pelzer. One of Regondi’s instruments is in Japan, the other, his Concert Guitar, with additional bass strings, is a treasure of this collection, and to all these have been added Madame Pratten’s own instruments, akin a notable list.

Madame Pelzer’s activities and associations have been a vital part of her life. They have filled her days with overflowing interest, enlarging her sphere and giving welcome experiences, and now that the accumulation of years, with its toll on her energies, has laid its staying hand upon them, she has the pleasure of remembrance – a bountiful store – and the reflection of her length of days in the treasured possessions she has gathered together, and which adorn her home. One especially there is that holds the most happy and personal remembrance. It is the representation, built in cork, of the house at Hythe, where she and her husband spent their honeymoon.

It was planned and built by General King’s coachman, and is cleverly carried out, every detail being correct.

Life has led Madame Giulia Pelzer along smooth and fair paths and into pleasant places, and bestowed upon her long years that span the wide distance of a century, leaving her the last descendant of the Pelzer family and linking her with the famous Post Masters of the Guitar, with whom her father was contemporary. Their portraits are in her studio.

She has carried forward their musical traditions, their standard of teaching and performance, and has kept alive the interest in the guitar, and the knowledge of its own special history. A serene mellowed old age is hers, and although sight and hearing have shown a lessening of their powers, her mind still remains alert and receptive, and she can relate from her store of memories, many incidents of the far past, or enter, with the same interest, into discussions on things of the present, expressing views and opinions that reveal her wide outlook and testify to the knowledge she has garnered through the years.

She has lived to see undreamed of changes in the realm of Music, and has watched the effect of the gramophone and wireless on the musical life of the people, and though she enjoys listening to certain broadcast performances, it is a greater pleasure to her to receive those pupils who are devoted to their instrument and who still come to her for guitar instruction, knowing that in her teaching they find the high standards and the attainments of the Old Masters.

On the 12th December 1932 – just two days after her birthday, she wrote to a friend “I have had a very happy birthday.. and have entered on my 96th year, and so much to do.”

Around her fulness of years are entwined many acts of kindness, happy memories, and the affection and remembrance of friends, breathing a fragrance that will remain to the end.


[1] Ed. Now know as Lancaster house.

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