Georg Wendler (1883 - 1963)

Georg Wendler's signature, 1909

Georg Wendler (1883--1963 is best remembered for his career as principal horn of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1909-1928), and for his association with the Ed. Kruspe brass instrument company in Erfurt Germany, including the development of the "Modell Prof. Wendler" compensating double horn. He was born in Leobschütz, Germany (now Poland)  on July 12, 1883, a son of Guido Wendler.[1]   At the age of 14 he became a student of Friedrich Gumpert (1841 - 1906) in Leipzig. He was appointed to the position of first horn in Leipzig, then moved to the Kaim Orchestra in Munich (later the Munich Philharmonic). From 1906 to 1909 he was principal horn in the Hamburg State Philharmonic under Max Fiedler. Mr. Fiedler became the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1908 and after his first season invited Mr. Wendler to come to Boston. On July 11, 1909 he and his first wife, Dorothea[2], arrived at Ellis Island, New York on the U.S.S. Cincinnati. From New York the Wendler's first traveled to Chicago, apparently to visit family, and while there Georg  declared his intention to become a U.S. citizen on September 13.[3]  A week later he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the 1909-1910 season replacing Karl Schmid as principal horn of the second quartet.[4]
Mr. Wendler was featured as a soloist on June 6, 1910 with the Boston Pops in the Entr'acte from Galathee for flute and horn, by Victor Massé.  On March 31, 1911 Mr. Wendler appeared on a recital presented Harvard University's New Lecture Hall by pianist/composer Arthur Battelle Whiting, performing the Brahms Trio, op. 40, with Silvain Noach, second concert master of the BSO.[5] In June of the same year the Edison Phonograph Company announced the first recording by Gustave Heim, cornet, and the Waldhorn Quartette of "The Post in the Forest." The quartet comprised George Wendler, Franz Hain, Wilhelm Gebhardt and Heinrich Lorbeer, all members of the Boston Symphony.[6]

In 1913, Max Hess, principal horn of the first quartet, broke a tooth, and as a result Mr. Wendler moved to the principal position of the first quartet which he held until his retirement from the orchestra in 1928.[7] The horn highlights of  the 1913 season was two performances of Mahler's Fifth Symphony given on November 22 and again by popular demand on February 27.[8] 

In May of 1914 Dorothea Wendler visited relatives in Germany. While she was there Germany began invading its neighbors starting World War I, and Dorothea applied for an emergency passport to return to the U..S. for her "protection." Actually, she fibbed on the application stating that her husband was already a naturalized citizen of the United States, but the passport was granted anyway and she arrived home on September 23, 1914. On the Fourth of July, 1915 Mr. Wendler showed his patriotism by assisting in a patriotic service at the First Baptist Church in Arlington. It wasn't until June 5, 1916 that he signed his Oath of Allegiance uaing the his Declaration of Intention filed in Chicago in 1909 and finally became a natrualized citizen of the United States. A year later in 1917 the United States joined in World War I against Germany and its allies. At the same time there was growing resentment in the U.S. against anything German, and on March 14, 1918 the New York Herald published an article protesting the appearance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall that night because of its 23 German "enemy aliens." Mr. Wendler was included in the list of "frankly Teutonic names", even though he had already become a naturalized citizen.[9]

On January 11, 1920 the Fourteenth Census of the United States was recorded at the Wendler's address in Boston, listing George and Dorothy.
On February 25, 1920 the Boston Musical Association founded by oboist Georges Longy, presented a concert featuring works by composer and harpist Carlos Salzedo. On the program was "Three Poems by Sara Yarow" by Salzedo for soprano, six harps, oboe, bassoon, and horn, with George Wendler. The poems are "Ecstacy", "Despair", and "Humility," Later the work was also presented as part of the Pittsfield Massachusetts Music Festival on September 25, 1920.  According to one reviewer "there is a long instrumental introduction to the poem "Ecstasy in order to set the proper mood." Another reviewer from New York found "The composition was in the extreme form, but it was not so extreme as the poems which were of the flesh fleshly." Apparently sometime during the same period the Wendlers were divorced. On June 1, 1920 Dorothea traveled to Hamburg Germany "to bring my mother for her health and also for my own health. My mother's condition grew worse and she was unable to make the trip back to America. She died in Hamburg October 23, 1921." Among other family ties in the United States she listed her divorced husband, George Wendler. [10]

On April 11, 1921 Mr. Wendler applied for a passport for the stated purpose of going to France to "travel" for four to five months, sailing on board the S.S. Lafayette leaving on May 7, 1921. A second destination written, but then crossed out, was "Germany (if married) to see our parents."  On September 25, he returned apparently accompanied by his new wife, Ilse Kruspe Wendler.

Boston Herald September 1, 1909

Passport photo - 1921


1913 again


Ilse Kruspe was born on October 11, 1898 in Erfurt, Germany. She was the daughter of Fritz and Auguste Kruspe  and the grand-daughter of the brass instrument maker, Eduard Kruspe. Fritz Kruspe had taken over the management of the family firm in 1893, but died in November of 1909 at the age of 47. In 1915, ownership of the firm Ed. Kruspe was officially passed to his widow, Auguste, and two children Ilse and Walter Kruspe (born April 16, 1904). [11] 

Following the 1921 - 1922 Boston Symphony concert season the Wendlers spent August and September in Lunenburg, Vermont as the guests of Mrs. Herbert T. Silsby. On August 31, Mr. Wendler "showed great brilliancy of touch and technique" on a recital at the Congregational Church, giving "his apprciative audience music which was a revelation."  The program included Wiegenlied by Richard Strauss, and the Horn Concerto by Franz Strauss, in which Mrs. Wendler "gracefully assisted Mrs. Selsby at the piano.  ... The entire proceeds of the evening ($32.15), will be given to the Monday Night Study Club, of which Mrs. Silsby is president, and will be used to bring other talent into our midst." A month later, Mrs. Silsby entertained a few friends at Silsbyland cottage, with Prof. and Mrs. Wendler as guests of honor. "During the evening Prof. Wendler, accompanied by the talented hostess, rendered a number of classic selections on the French horn, of which he is master, which were greatly enjoyed by the listeners.
In the summers of 1923 and 1924, George and Ilse Wendler returned to Germany, not only to visit family but also for business purposes. The October 1, 1924 issue of Zeitschrift für Instrumentenbau reported the following:
When the company Ed. Kruspe, brass instrument factory in Erfurt, was registered in the Commercial Register,  Professor Georg Wendler, Boston (USA) has joined as a general partner in the company. The merchant Guenther Wendler in Erfurt is granted power of attorney.

The above announcement was followed two months later on December 1, by another notice that the firm of Ed. Kruspe had been granted D.R.G.M. 888990 for a double horn design. This was  "Modell Professor Wendler" (shown at right), a modification to the Gumbert Kruspe that Mr. Wendler had been using for most of his career. It would become one of the most popular compensating designs.

Mr. and Mrs. Wendler at lived briefly in Erfurt again in 1926, returning to Boston for the concert season. Following the 1927-1928 season Mr. Wendler retired from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and he and Ilse moved permanently to Erfurt where he beagan full time management of Firma Kruspe.

Wendler Model horn from the color catalog of the late 1930s courtesy of Peter Heldmann

Through his contacts with musicians in American orchestras Mr. Wendler was able to increase sales of Kruspe horns (see advertisement at right). In 1933 only Georg Wendler and his mother-in-law, sixty-year-old Auguste Kruspe, were the only shareholders in the general partnership. According to District Court of Archives of Erfurt the partnership was dissolved that year with the withdrawal of Mrs Kruspe. In 1934, the company celebrated its 100th anniversary (see photo below). [12]  Mr. Wendler successfully saw the company through World War II. Even after the economic upheaval resulting from the creation of the German Democratic Republic (DDR, 1949 - 1990) when Erfurt became a part of Soviet East Germany the company remained in private hands.  In 1953 at the age of seventy Mr. Wendler requested that it be deleted from the business register (Handelsregister) so that the business activity could be continued as a craft workshop (Handwerksbetrieb) with nine workers. The following year master instrument maker, Rudi Schneider (seen in photo below) was appointed head of operations and in 1961 Mr. Wendler, as sole owner, once again requested that the company be removed from the business register in order to transfer it to Rudi Schneider.

Two years later, Georg Wendler died in Erfurt on May 9, 1963, and his wife Ilse Kruspe Wendler died there on March 16, 1982.

Firma Ed. Kruspe Centennial Celebration, 1934
In the front center Ilse and Georg Wendler; Auguste Kruspe, widow of Fritz Kruspe; and Dorothea Kruspe, widow of Ed. Kruspe.
Standing directly behind Georg Wendler is his successor, Rudi Schneider.
(Photo by kind courtesy of Meister Peter Heldmann)

A very special thank you to Meister Peter Heldmann, owner, proprietor, and master instrument maker of Firma Ed. Kruspe.  Special thanks to Peter Hirsch for providing the information and June 1910 Edison Phonograph Monthly page pertaining to the cylinder recording of "The Post in the Forest" by Gustave Heim and the Waldhorn Quartette. 

1. In 1911 Georg and his first wife, Dorothea, returned to Germany to visit his father, Guido. Other possible family members include a Guido Wendler, born June 6, 1881, who was killed in action in 1917, and Günther Wendler who was given power of attorney for Georg at Ed. Kruspe in 1924  while he continued in the Boston Symphony.

2.  Wilhemina Lotte Dorothea [Wendler] was born on October 7, 1888 in Wandsbeck (or Wandsbek), Germany, one of the boroughs of Hamburg. She probably met Georg while he was the principal horn in the Hamburg State Philarmonic. Her family name has not been found, however she later mentions having two uncles, Edward Keeck (or Kieck) living in Buffalo, NY, and Theo. Riese living in Chicago. In May 1914, she returned to Hamburg Germany to visit family. While there she witnessed the start of World War I in July and the following month she applied for an emergency passport at the American Consulate General for the purpose of "protection." Her Chicago relatives,  Theodor (70) and Auguste (60) Riese were also passengers on the S.S. Olympic on the return trip in September. 

3. Georg stated his address as 6148 Morgan St, Chicago. It appears that he and Dorothea spent the time between their arrival at Ellis Island and settling in Boston by visiting her uncle, Theodor Riese or other family in Chicago. On October 20, 1909 Theodore F. Reise (son of Theodor and Auguste Reise) and Anna Dohl were married in Chicago. Unfortunately the Wendlers probably had to miss this family event since it fell between the second and third weekly concerts of the Boston Symphony.

4. He was certainly hired by conductor, Max Fiedler, based their previous association in Hamburg. The BSO had a total of eight horns organized into two quartets.  The other members of his quartet were William Gebhart, Albert Hackebarth, and Carl Schumann. The first quartet was headed by Max Hess and included Heinrich Lorbeer, Franz Hain, and  J. Phair.

5. The Harvard Crimson  (March 31, 1911) also listed the following as the first work on the program: "Mozart, 1756-1791. Waldhorn and pianoforte. Sonata, G-minor. I. Moderato--Presto. II. Large--Allegro commodo."

6. Apparently Max Hess had been the principal horn for the Waldhorn Quartette in 1908. The original official photograph of the group including Mr. Heim shows Mr. Hess standing at the left with his Bopp single horn. In the June 1910 Edison Phonograph Monthly photograph, Mr. Wendler's head has been superimposed atop Mr. Hess's torso, however the horn he is holding is Mr. Hess's Bopp and not his own Kruspe compensating double. Mr. Wendler is listed in the caption, so he is no doubt the one who made the recording (see Larkey, 1976).

7. Douglas Yeo (1988) shows Mr. Wendler replacing Max Hess in the 1912-13 season, which is possible depending on when Mr. Hess had his unfortunate tooth accident. No change in seating was noted in the printed Programmes, however, until the start of the next season. For the first concert of the 1913-14 season there were only six horns listed. Albert Hackebarth,Wilhelm Gebhart, and J. Phair had left the section, and Bruno Jaenicke joined to take Mr. Wendler's place as second principal. By the second concert, however, the full complement of two quartets was restored with the addition of Alfred Resch and Erwin Miersch.

8. Max Hess had played the world premiere of Mahler 5 in Cologne under the composer's direction on October 18, 1904. He was heard again when the Boston Symphony Orchestra first performed it in 1906, in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. It wasn't played again by the B.S.O. until the April 19, 1913 concert, probably with Max Hess playing the third movement horn obbligato once again. Probably to feature the other two horns in the section,  the February 27 1914 performance of Mahler 5 was followed by Richard Wagner's A Siegfried Idyl.

9. The article's headline was "Shall Doktor Kart Muck with His 23 Enemy Aliens Play in Concert To-Night? Not if Patriotic Societies, Outraged Citizens and Thousands of Protests Can Prevent It! Carnegie Hall Flings Wide Open Its Doors to Kaiser's Own Music Director." One reason given in addition to the orchestra's many German musicians was that music director Dr. Karl Muck, who was still a German citizen, had  not been opening concerts with the "Star Spangled Banner." In fact the B.S.O. had already been banned from several other U.S. cities. The concert was held as scheduled, however, to a sold out house, with Dr. Muck under police guard, and yes, he did play the "Star Spangled Banner."

10. Since she had been away for an extended period of time, Wilhelmine Lotte Dorothea Wendler was required to sign an Affidavit to Explain Protracted Foreign Residence and to Overcome Presumption of Expatriation (Form 213 Consular) at the U.S. Consulate in Hamburg in order to obtain a return passport. She further explained that "It is now necessary for me to remain pending the settlement of her estate and for other personal business."

11. George Wendler was probably aware of Ilse from the time she was a child since the horn he preferred to use was the Gumbert-Kruspe model developed in 1906 by Fritz Kruspe and Edmund Gumpert and shown in the photos above. Wendler was probably already using this horn before coming to the United States in 1909 and very well could have purchased it personally from Ilse's father, Fritz Kruspe, at the Ed. Kruspe firm in Erfurt.

12. Johann Eduard Kruspe was born in May 9, 1831 and was only three years old in 1834, the date used by Firma Ed. Kruspe for its founding. In fact Mr. Kruspe did not establish the company under his own name until 1864, however he had taken over the workshop of Carl Christian Zielsdorf, which had been established circa 1834. Hence the date 1834 actually refers to the founding of the parent company by Zielsdorf.

Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920

Langer, Arne; Wenke, Wolfgang. Musikinstrumente von Weltrang, Die Firma Kruspe in Erfurt, Stadmuseum and Theaterr, Erfurt, 2012

Larkey, Amy; "Gustav Heim and the Waldhorn Quartette", The Horn Call, v.VII, no.1,  The International Horn Society, November, 1976

Howe, Mark Antony De Wolfe; The Boston symphony orchestra: an historical sketch, The Atlantic monthly press, Boston, 1914

Pizka, Hans. Hornisten-Lexikon / Dictionary for Hornists. Kirchheim b. München, Hans Pizka Edition, 1986. ISBN 3922409040

Yeo, Douglas; "Horn Players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1881-1988", The Horn Call , v.XVIII, no. 2, p.47ff, The International Horn Society, April, 1988

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