Manns, Sir August Friedrich



Orchestra conductor, to whom the British public owes much of its knowledge of the works of great composers. He was born at Stolzenburg, North Germany. His earliest acquaintance with music began in a family quintet, and his first instruction was received at Torgelow, from the village musician, with whom he studied violin, clarinet and flute. Later he was apprenticed to Urban at Elbing, where he played in the orchestra of the Danzig Opera Company when it came to Elbing. Finally he obtained a position to play first clarinet in a regimental band of Danzig, and at the same time played a first violin at the theatre. When his band was sent to Posen in 1848 Manns became acquainted with Wieprecht, who helped him get a place in Gungl's Orchestra in Berlin, where later he became conductor and solo violin at Kroll's Garden. In 1851 he was appointed bandmaster to Colonel von Roon's infantry regiment at Konigsberg, in which position he had unusual freedom in his methods of work. When the regiment was moved to Cologne, its band enjoyed great reputation, and in 1854 Manns was offered a position of subconductor, under Schallehn, of the band at the Crystal Palace in London. Owing to trouble with Schallehn he resigned his position, and for a few months conducted the summer concerts at Amsterdam, but in 1855 he was appointed conductor in Schallehn's place. As conductor of the band at the Crystal Palace, Manns did great work. He transformed the band from a wind band into a full orchestra, succeeded in getting the concert-room enclosed and roofed in, and began his famous Saturday concerts, through which he did much to develop the musical taste of his London public. With untiring zeal and energy he worked to place before the people the works of the classical masters as a whole. He was also quick to recognize and encourage British musicians. He was a tremendous worker, and, beside his daily music and the Saturday concerts, had the arrangement of special music for many extra occasions and fetes. He replaced Sir Michael Costa as conductor of the Handel festivals in 1883, continuing this work until 1900. In 1896 and 1899 he conducted the music at the Sheffield Festival. In 1903 he was knighted. During forty-three years' work he is said to have conducted about twelve thousand concerts. He died in London.