Henri Van der Meerschen is best known as one of the six founding members of the London
Symphony Orchestra in 1903-1904 and subsequently as third horn in "God's Own Horn Quartet"
in that orchestra.
The other members of the quartet were Adolph Borsdorf (principal), Thomas Busby (second),
and Alfred Edwin (A.E.) Brain (fourth), father of Alfred and Aubrey Brain, and
grand-father of Dennis Brain. On September 30, 1903 forty-six members of Henry Wood's
Queen's Hall Orchestra suddenly resigned after it was announced that "deputies"
(substitutes) would no longer be allowed. Among them were Borsdorf, Busby and
Van der Meerschen who, with three others formed a committee to organize the London Symphony
Van der Meerschen was born in Brussels on September 30, 1866. He attended the Brussels Conservatoire first to study voice with horn as his second instrument, studying under Louis-Henri Merck. There he earned the Premier Prix with distinction in 1885 after which he was invited by Eugène Goosens to join the Carl Rosa Opera Company.
In 1893 he married Annette Sophia Mercy Laubach, daughter of Heinrich Conrad and Anne (Bourne) Laubach of Edinburgh, Scotland. Miss Laubach was was seven years older than Van Der Meerschen having been born on August 30, 1859 in Edinburgh Parish, Midlothian. She came from a musical family, her father having been music teacher and bandmaster of several groups in Edinburgh including the Kenniel (Bo'ness) Brass Band. Her brothers, Franklin and Conrad also became professional musicians. At the time she met Van der Meerschen she was an "operatic artiste" also in the employ of the Carl Rosa Company. Soon after their marriage the couple moved briefly to Glasgow, Scotland returning to London the next year in time for the birth of their first child, Therèsa Anna. It was then that he joined the Queen's Hall orchestra as fourth horn. A few years later their second daughter, Ella, was born and by 1911 the family had taken up residence at 44 Killyon Road, London, S.W.8 where Henri would live for the remainder of his life. Therèsa Anna returned to the family home from Quebec, Canada at about the time of Henri's passing ca. 1934. In 1937 she moved to 12 Geraldine Road in the Battersea district and established the Geraldine School of Dancing. She ran the school until about 1960, after which she moved to 4 Langton clo Becton Lane, New Milton where she lived until after 1971. She apparently never married.
Mr. Van der Meerschen was also an occasional soloist and chamber player.
(from The Oxford Magazine, May 18, 1904)
44 Killyon Road, residence of the Van der Meerschen family
Thanks once again to John Humphries for all his advice, encouragement, information, and photos.
Baptie, David, Musical Scotland Past and Present, J. and R. Parlane, Paislev, 1894
Billiet, Jeroen, 200 Years of Belgian Horn School?,Orphans Institute, Ghent, Belgium, 2008
Pettitt, Stephen, Dennis Brain, A biography Robert Hale, London, 1976
The Oxford Magazine, Oxford University, May 18, 1904
Christening records, Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, Batch C116851, 1855-1862, Source call 6035516
England & Wales Marriage Index, Lambeth District, Greater London, London, Surrey, Jul-Aug-Sep 1893
England & Wales Birth Index, Lambeth District, Greater London, London, Surrey, Apr-May-Jun, 1894
Passenger Manifest, Empress of Britain, Southampton, England, September 17, 1935,
Phone Directories London Surnames A - Z, 1920, 1921, 1924 - 1936,
Phone Directories London Surnames L - Z, 1937 - 1939, 1943, 1956, 1960
Phone Directories Bournemouth/Exeter/Plymouth/Cornwall/Devon (South West)/Isles of Scilly/Portsmouth/Southampton, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1965-1971
Scotland Census, St Andrew Registration District, Edinburgh St Mary, Midlothian 1861
Scotland Census, St Andrew Registration District, Edinburgh St Stephens, Midlothian 1881
Scotland Census, St Andrew Registration District, Edinburgh St Mary, Midlothian 1891