Carl Linger, The Complete Songs

For voice and pianoforte
Prussia (1840s) – Adelaide (1849-62)

Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA045
ISBN 978-0-9925674-4-6 / ISMN 979-0-9009656-4-6


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Carl Ferdinand August Linger was born in Berlin on 16 March 1810 and died in Adelaide in 1862. After early music studies in Berlin; Linger visited Milan and Venice to further his composition career and later returned to his home city. He had a series six songs published in that city which are in the first in this volume. Also in Berlin he also wrote Sechs Zwischenspiele for Orchestra as well as other works that are mentioned. These include two operas, King Alfred and The Combat with the Dragon. In 1849 Carl Linger migrated to the Colony of South Australia and took up farming near Smithfield, a venture that was unsuccessful. Relocating to Adelaide, Linger made a major mark on the music and artistic life of Adelaide. Sadly his first wife passed away in 1860 and he then married the soprano Christiana Cranz (below). On his death, caused by dropsy on 16 February 1862, there were many eulogies. He is regarded as the ‘Father of Music in Adelaide’.

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Only twelve extant songs known to have been composed by Carl Linger survive. Thee first six songs are all set to texts by German poets who were fashionable at the time. The titles of the songs and the authors of the texts are as follows:

  1. Muttertändelei. Gottfried August Bürger 1747-1794
  2. Schweizerlied. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749-1832
  3. Amen (Wenn ich in Bettchen steige). Karoline
  4. Herbstlied. Ludwig Tieck 1773-1853
  5. Endliche Karoline
  6. Mailied. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Five songs in the composers autograph survived in Adelaide as late as 1968, owned at the time by two descendants of the composer, namely a Miss Nora Haenel and a Miss Wischmann. The five songs in this collection, including one set in English with a parallel German text are:

  1. Wenn Still mit Seinen Letzten Flammen. Franz Emanuel August Geibel 1815-1884
  2. In der Ferne. Gustave Hermann Kletke 1813-1886
  3. Mein Herz und deine Stimme. August Graf von Platen-Hallermüde 1796-1835
  4. In der Ferne. Robert Eduard Prutz 1816-1872
  5. Through Long Dull Years I Know Fell Sorrow, or in German Ich Kannte nur des Lebens Schmerzen. The author of the poem is not been traced.

I do not know of these first four songs being performed in Adelaide but the final song in English was first mentioned as being sung by Miss Christiane Mathilde Cranz, later Mrs Carl Linger on 3 August 1854 and then again in the Carl Linger tribute concert, given on 10 September 1863.

MDA045 pic3The final song, and that which has secured Linger a notable place in Australia’s musical history is The Song of Australia. Composed to a set of five verses by the Adelaide poetess, Caroline Carlton, the song won a competition sponsored by the Gawler Institute. Of the ninety-six poems submitted, Carleton’s verse was the winner and the setting of the song by Linger was first performed in public on 12 December 1859. It is the finest of the patriotic songs of the Australian Colonial period, a genre of music that has generally had an undistinguished record.