Correspondence, photographs, programmes and cuttings, with some music and a recording, belonging to the cellist Carl Fuchs.
Carl Fuchs Papers
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Carl Fuchs (1865-1951) was a German cellist. Born in Offenbach, Frankfort am Main, he was the son of leather manufacturer (and later carriage manufacturer) who was a keen amateur musician and music-lover. His first teacher was Robert Riedel (d.1895), then principal cellist of the Frankfort Opera House. In 1881 he entered the Frankfort conservatoire, studying under Bernhard Cossmann (1822-1910). Cossmann had been the friend of Berlioz, Heine, Blow and Liszt, and through him Fuchs came to know Clara and Robert Schumann (Clara was also on the staff of the Conservatoire).
Fuchs remembered playing under Brahms in the Frankfort Museum Orchestra - they played Brahms' symphonies in D and F, at that time only in manuscript. In 1885 he began his year of military service, but was allowed to continue to practice and perform, and conducted the 118th Infantry Regimental choir during his year. Also in that year he met Karl Davdov (1838-1889) through his maternal uncle's acquaintance with the Erakoff family of St Petersburg.
Fuchs studied with Davdov, initially during the summer of 1886 in Thuringia, before going to the St Petersburg Conservatoire in the autumn until Davdov left in the spring of 1887 following a relationship with student pianist. Despite this, Fuchs was to admire Davdov throughout his life. At this time Fuchs played in the Symphony Concerts under Rubinstein; he also met Tchaikovsky, Cui, Sapellnikov and Auer. On leaving St Petersburg Fuchs and Davdov went to Leipzig, where he first met the violinist Adolph Brodsky.
Early in 1887 Fuchs first went to Manchester where he had been invited to appear as a soloist at the Gentlemen's Concerts. He took with him a letter of introduction to Charles Hall (then conductor of the Gentlemen's Concerts Society orchestra in addition to his own orchestra) from Clara Schumann. Fuchs also played in London, meeting Piatti, the painter Sir Frederick (later Lord) Leighton who had been at school in Frankfort with Fuchs' father, and Augustus Manns. Fuchs gave the first English performance of Brahms C minor trio, with James Kwast (the Dutch pianist) and Carl Deichmann (violin).
Fuchs returned to Offenbach to serve his time as a sergeant before being discharged, and undertook a number of other concerts. In Strasbourg he met Paderewski and was a close friend until the pressures of Paderewski's self-imposed musical and political life drew them apart. Returning to the UK in the autumn of 1887 Fuchs toured under Manns in Scotland, before settling in Manchester in the spring of 1888. He joined the Schiever Quartet in Liverpool, but his principal work was with the Hall orchestra, becoming principal cello under Hans Richter.
On the founding of the Royal Manchester College of Music in 1893 Fuchs was invited to become Professor of the Violoncello, remaining in post until his retirment in 1942. In 1895 Adolph Brodsky became Principal (having arrived in Manchester two months earlier to lead the Hall orchestra) and formed the Brodsky Quartet with Fuchs, Christopher Rawdon Briggs (2nd violin) and Simon Speelman (viola).
In 1896 Richter invited Fuchs and other members of the Hall orchestra to take part in the Jubilee performances at Bayreuth. Fuchs also performed with Saint-Sens, Richard Strauss, and Joachim, often at the Schiller-Anstalt (the German club founded in Manchester in 1859; the Eye Hospital now stands on its site).
In July 1914 Fuchs and his wife and sons (aged 15 and 11) visited his mother in Jugenheim. Sadly she died during their visit, in September, and in November all able-bodied British subjects were interned. Fuchs spent a few months at the racetrack at Ruhleben, leading and participating in musical events and forming friendships with Edgar Bainton and John Pauer, the son of the German pianist Max. As he had done military service in Germany, Fuchs was soon released although he was restricted in his movements for the duration of the Great War. His wife and sons were permitted to return to England in January 1915, whilst Fuchs lived with his sister at Jugenheim, playing at Darmstadt in the first performance of Parsifal, and also in Frankfort. He also taught a number of pupils including the dramatist Georg Kaiser.
During the war and enforced separation from his family Fuchs' health gave way, and he was admitted to the Alsbach Sanatorium for a time. He recovered sufficiently to arrange two concerts in Frankfort, the first on November 8th. The concert was attended by a good audience, despite the fear of demonstrations following the deposition of the King of Bavaria. Following the Armistice, Fuchs was allowed to return to England in March 1919, resuming work in 1920. He remained Professor of the Violoncello at the RMCM until his retirement in 1942, and was a member of the Board of Professors. In 1945 he was elected Professor Emeritus in recognition of his services to the College since its opening.
Fuchs also taught at the Newcastle Conservatoire (1897-1938) after the war whilst Edgar Bainton was Principal (1912-33). He died in 1951.
Fuchs probably played the ex-Cossmann Gofriller cello (thought to be by Carlo Bergonzi) made at 1726 at Cremona (29.5 width 17 5/8 and 14 1/4 inches; ribs 4 3/4 and 4 5/8 inches).
Fuchs' Musical and other recollections, an English version of his Erinnerungen eines Offenbacher Cellisten, was published Manchester: Sherratt and Hughes, 1937, and gives a fuller account of his life.
6 series, imposed arrangement:
- Programmes and cuttings
- Royal Manchester College of Music
Open for consultation
Delia Fuchs (Carl Fuchs' niece), 1999.
Description compiled by Joanne Fitton in direct relation to the description created by Sarah Wickham on RNCM catalogue.
Other Finding Aids
Royal Northern College of Music Archives Catalogue (CALM).
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright is subject to the provision of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1984.