C. August Hamann
(1827 - 1892)

  Signature, 1890

Carl (or Karl) August Hamann  (1827--1892) was born on September 11, 1827 in Berlin Germany, a son of Johann and Anna Dorothea Hamann.1   His first musical training came from his father. Later he studied the piano and organ with Carl August Haupt at the  Royal Academy of Church Music in Berlin, and composition with Carl Friedrich Rumgenhagen, music director of the Berliner Singakademie.2 His father died when he was twenty and he became responsible for the support of the family which he did by giving piano lessons. With this as motivation his musical skills improved to the point where he was appointed accompanist to the Royal Orchestra of Berlin. When he was offered a permanent position with the Royal Chamber Concerts, he and his family, chose instead to emigrate to the United States in August, 1851. He was accompanied by his mother, his brother, Johan Adolph Hamann, and two sisters, Augusta, and Anna Dorothea, arriving in New York on October 4, 1851.3 Disappointed by the opportunities he found in New York, August went on to Columbus, Ohio where he had friends living. On June 26, 1852, he made a primary declaration of his intention to become a citizen of the United States in the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, Ohio.  The following year he and his family moved to the Boston area and took up residence in the Cambridgeport neighborhood.

In Boston Mr. Hamann served as solo horn under several of the great conductors of the day including Joseph Gungl,  Carl BergmannCarl Zerrahn,  and in Selwyn's Theatre Orchestra conducted by Charles Koppitz. 4 Later he was the horn player in the Boston Theater Orchestra conductd by Napier Lothian. He also appeared a number of times with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club (see reviews below) and as accompanist to  Camilla Urso, the celebrated violinist. In the summer of 1863, at the height of the Civil War, he was registered as eligible to do military duty, but was apparently not conscripted into service, as he continued to appear locally as a musician.5 In 1873 he became the organist at the Cambridge North Avenue Congregational Church.

Personal Life
Mr. Hamann's first wife, Lucy Belle Hardy, was born in Newburyport on October 24, 1839. They were married on August 22, 1857 and together had the following children: Lucy (1858-59), Fannie E. Hamann, (1859 - 1866), Charles A. Hamann (ca. 1863 - ), Emory H. Hamann, (1864 - ), Louisa (1867 - 68) Hamann and Bertha Jessica Hamann (1867 - ). This marriage ended in divorce in 1869.6 In 1873, at about the time of his second marriage, he moved from Cambridgeport to Someville, Massachusetts. Mr. Hamann's second wife, Elizabeth (Elise) Maria Augusta Lehmann, was born in May, 1847 in Germany. Together they had three children, including Dora (ca. 1879 - ) and Elizabeth (or Elise) A. Hamann (ca. 1874 - ) who became a music teacher. Upon the death of her father Elise took on her father's teaching responsibilities.7  It wasn't until April 24, 1890 that Mr. Hamann took the oath of allegience and became a naturalized citizen of the United States using the Declaration of Intent that he had filed in Columbus, Ohio, some thirty-eight years earlier.

Two years after becoming a citizen of the United States, August Hamann died on January 6, 1892 and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery. He was survived by two sons and one daughter from his first marriage, and his widow and two daughters.

Mr. Hamann's horn of choice was designed and made by Elbridge G. Wright of Boston. His endorsement (above) dated February 25, 1868,  appeared in catalogs of the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory which was formed in 1869 by the merger of E.G. Wright & Co. and Graves & Co. The Boston version of the horn is shown at the right.

Some reviews

New Orchestra. A number of the best artists in the Musical Fund Society, especially Germans, have organized a separate, smaller orchestra, with the view  to giving frequent concerts somewhat after the manner of the “Germanians.” … Mr. Hamann, who played the fine horn solo at a late Quintette Soirée is to be first horn.
[Dwight’s Journal, I no.2 (17 April 1852) p. 15]

Mr. Hamann, the fine French  hornist, is down for a solo  on Senora De Ribas’ very attractive programme for her complimentary concert this evening.
[Dwight’s Journal, I no. 4 (1 May 1852) p. 30]

We understand that changes have been made in the distribution of the instruments expecially the wind instruments, hitherto a chronic weakness of the body, which are of the greatest importance to the unity and vitality of the whole. It is amicably settled that a number of the older members retire from the actual occupancy of certain instruments and give place to fresher and more accomplished artists…. Messrs. Hamann (a new member and an excellent player) and the younger Fries, the horns; Messrs. Dorn and Endres being still available for supplementary horns.
[Dwight’s Journal, II no.9 (4 December 1852) p.71]

Mendelssohn Quintette Club – The Second Chamber Concert, Thursday Dec. 9th, drew a large audience, who seemed deeply interested to the end. The Sextet by Beethoven, for string quartet and two horns obligato (in E flat, op. 81) tasked the solo-playing capacity of the horns rather too severely in the first and last movements, though they were played by such skilful artists as Messrs. Hamann and Eichler.  We fancy that Beethoven must have written that, more for the gratification of some extraordinary couple of hornists, than from the promptings of his own taste and genius;  why make the slow but honest horns perform the work of flutes? The Adagio was more suited to the genius of the instrument, where it enriched and filled the harmony with its warm mellow tones.
[Dwight’s Journal, II no.11 (18 December 1852) p.86] 

January 15, 1853:  Fourth Musical Fund Concert
We congratulate the Society on the accession of so artistic a horn player as Mr. Hamann. His solo was well selected, an expressive Adagio, not too long, and without the fashionable nuisance of absurd variations; and from the sweet pure, feelingly modulated tones of his instrument it breathed like a mysterious voice melody from forest depths. All was within the tone sphere and genius of the instrument.
[Dwight’s Journal, II no.16 (22 January 1853) p.125-126.]

Also appreciated for his pianistic skills, Mr. Hamann performed with the Quintette Club of Boston on February 10, 1857. Though not impressed with the overall program the reviewer in the Boston Dailey Atlas had this to say regarding Mr. Hamann: "An Andante of Haydn for violoncello and piano, was exceedingly well given by Messrs. W. Fries and Hamann, and was received with much applause."

On January 29, 1862 Mr. Hamann was a featured soloist on a concert by the Orchestral Union conducted by Carl Zerrahn. The work was described as a "German Song arranged for orchestra, (first in this country) with Horn Obbligato." In December of the same year he appeared with the Quintette Club as a horn player performing as soloist and in the Beethoven Septet, op. 20.

In November 1864, Mr. Hamann volunteered his services to the National Sailor's Fair, held at the Boston Theatre. On March 16, 1865 he once again accompanied violinist Camilla Urso before a vast audience at Huntington Hall in Lowell Mass and the following week at Lyceum Hall, in Salam: "...the accompanimets were well and artistically played by Mr. Hamann."

On March 27 1867, he performed at Huntington Hall with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club and fellow members of the Boston Orchestral Union in the Schubert Octette. He also played a horn solo, "Le Songe".

Boston Journal, September 10, 1868.

Mr. Hamann was listed first in the horn section of the huge orchestra amassed for the National Peace Jubilee held at the Boston Coliseum in June 1869. The event was organized by Patrick Gilmore. Reportedly there were 100 choral groups represented with a total of 10,926 singers, 525 musicians in the orchestra, and 486 musicians in the wind band. The orchestra horn section comprised 31 players from Boston, New York, and Cincinnati.

On March 18, 1870 he performed as a horn player on a concert for the Harvard Musical Association in Hummel's Septet. Also on the program were Schumann's Second Symphony, and Weber's Oberon Overture, conducted by Carl Zerrahn. 

In 1873 Mr. Hamann moved to Somerville, Massachusetts and became organist at the Cambridge North Avenue Congregational Church. At the smae time he  became the horn player in the Boston Theater Orchestra conductd by Napier Lothian. In 1886 he was obliged to resign and retire from public performance for health reasons. He did, however maintain an active private teaching studio until his death on January 6, 1892,


Peace Jubilee, Boston June, 1869

Karl Hamann's Stein with horn motif

 Special thanks Mrs. Joan Popovic, great-grand-daughter of August Hamann  for providing family information and photos of Mr. Hamann, and to Robert Eliason and Robb Stewart for their assistance. Also thanks to Cinde Waller for the photos of Karl Hamann's stein which has since been returned to the family, and to Michelle Bacich for information on her great-grandmother, Mabel Keith Bowditch Fitzgerald.

1. Estimates of Mr. Hamann's birth year found in public records vary from as early as 1826 to 1830. His statement on naturalization documents state 1829, however family records indicate 1827 which is used here. For most of his life Mr. Hamann used only the given name, August, however there are several references in Boston and Somerville city directories where he is named C. August Hamman. He, like many in his generation, was probably named after the great German reformer, Karl (or Carl or Charles) August (1757 - 1828), Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. So well liked in Berlin because of his relationship with Prussia, the famous Karl-August-Platz in Berlin (Mr. Hamann's birthplace), was named for him in 1897 almost seventy years after his death. That Mr. Hamann was one of his many namesakes is evidenced in particular, in the his notice of filing for divorce from his first wife in 1869 where he states his name as C. August Hamann, as do several city directories. In the 1892 Somerville directory, where he is also listed as "Hamann,  C. August, music teacher (449 Washington, B), house 262 Summer" (corner of Cedar St.). Within the same listing is his son, "Hamann, Charles A., Jr., bookkeeper  (B.) , h. 69 Cedar". the latter address located just up the street from Mr. Hamann's.  Son, Charles A. Hamann married Alice B. Baker, on August 11, 1889.

2. The newspaper clipping shown on this page has the name "Rumpenhagen" which is also found in one contemporary account but is certainly a misprint. Carl Friedrich Rungenhagen (1778- 1851) was a well-known composer and music teacher in Berlin, and was undoubtedly Hamman's teacher.

3. In the 1855 Massachusetts State Census, August (29), Dorthe (55), Augusta (25), and Dorothea (7) are listed living in Cambridge.  Mr. Hamann's brother, John [or Johan] Adolf Hamann was a very successful Jeweler in New York City.

4. In addition to conducting theater orchestras, Koppitz was professor of orchestration at Boston University.

5. August Hamann appears in the Consolidated List of all persons of Class II, subject to do military service in the Fourth Congressional District consisting of a part of the Counties of Suffolk and Middlesex Counties of Massachusetts. Class I comprises all persons subject to do military duty between the ages of twenty and thirty-five years, and all unmarried persons subject to do military duty above the age of thirty-five years and under the age of forty-five. Class II comprises all other persons subject to do military duty. Mr. Hamann was listed as being 37 years old.

6.  The Massachusetts State Census, taken on May 1, 1865 for Ward Four of Cambridge states that Lucy was born in Haiti. In addition to the children listed above, the household included Mr. Hamann's mother, Anna D. [Dorothea] Hamann, age 63. Son Emory was listed as Emily H. (female) age 7 months. Mr. Hamann accused Lucy of adultery and published a formal notice on July 8, 1869 naming Eugene Bowditch as co-respondent. The full name of daughter Louisa (1867-68) was Louisa Bowditch Hamann, and apparently August registered her as his own daughter since he had not yet filed for divorce. According to Boston birth records Lucy Bell and Eugene Bowditch later had another daughter, Mabel Keith Bowditch born January 24, 1870. Following his divorce from Lucy, Mr. Hamann's mother and two sons moved to Cincinnati to live with his sisters, Dora and Augusta. The 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Cincinnati lists the following: Dora Haman (53), Dora Haman (25), Augusta Haman (30), Charles Haman (7) and Emery [sic] Haman (5). Age differences of mother Dora (Dorothe) and sister Augusta between the 1855 census and 1870 might be due to vanity, while dates for sister Dora (Dorothea), and sons Charles, and Emory are consistent with other records. Custody of daughter Bertha Jessica was awarded to her mother, Lucy. Following her divorce from Mr. Hamann and her marriage to Mr. Bowditch, Lucy married Dr. John Foye with whom she had a son John Wilson Foye (1875-1890) and the family moved to California. Bertha Jessica took the name Foye and married a Mr. Clayton. Mabel Keith Bowditch also took the name of Foye as a child,  and later became an actress under the name of Mabel Keith. She married Clarence Fitzgerald with whom she had a son, Bertram L. Fitzgerald (1895-1974). Mabel died February 22, 1909. Lucy Bell's fourth husband was Charles G. Lidstrom (or Leidstromm) of San Francisco. Lucy and her son John Foye were killed in an avalanche in  Logansville, California on January 17, 1890; Mr. Lidstrom's life was spared in the snow slide. Mr. Hamann's sister Augusta never married, however as noted in the clipping above, his other sister, Dora, married Mr. Max M. Peyser in Cincinnati, but with tragic results:
A Strange Story. The Cincinnati Enquirer tells a strange story of the sudden death of a wealthy citizen, his lunacy, marriage, and strange ending. It says that Mr. Henry Strasberg, a merchant, yesterday called on Coroner Maley and demanded to have an inquest on the body of Max M. Peyser, a merchant on Fourth street, who died under what is considered suspicious circumstances. Mr. Peyser had married the day before his death, and was sitting, on the morning of his death, at the breakfast table. He then complained of pain, stood up, went into an adjoining room and fell dead. Dr. Barholow was called in, and he, together with a student of Good Samaritan Hospital, cut open Peyser's body, and  prepared to hold a post-mortem examination. Upon what authority he did this is not stated. The Coroner immediately took the matter in charge and took the contenst of the man's stomach into his posession for analysis. Dr. Bartholow gave the cause of Peyser's death as consumption. The history of the case  is a strange one.  Peyser had been a successful merchant on Fourth street up to about seven months ago, when he became crazy.  On a writ from the Probate Court he was sent to the Longview Asylum, and Mr. N. Bettmann was appointed administrator of his estate, which was valued at $50,000. At Longview he seemed to grow better, and about six weeks ago he was let out, when he resumed charge of his affairs. On Thursday last he married Miss Dora M. Hamann, a lady of about thirty-five, (Peyser was about fifty [40 years, 1 month, and 20 days according to the death notice],  who had for ten years managed the business at his store on Fourth stree, and for whom he had always shown great affection. The license for the marriage was got from the Probate Court. Miss Hamann and her mother had been living at No. 46 Dayton street, and it was herre ther Mr. Peyser was married. The morning following his marriage he dropped dead a few minutes after breakfast, as above stated. Miss Hamann is a Christian, while Mr. Peyser was a Hebrew, and the marriage naturally caused much talk among those acquainted with the parties; not only becouse of the respective ages of the pair, and the social relations.
The man's craziness, his wealth, his strange marriage, and sudden death, altogether make a story that is being widely discussed, and it excites great comment and conjecture.
[New York Commercial Advertiser, June 14, 1873]

7. According to the 1900 Census only two of the three children survived, and only the two daughters are mentioned in the above clipping. On April 5, 1899, daughter Elizabeth A. Hamann married Adolph F. Wehner of Newark, N.J. The ceremony was held at her mother's residence, 262 Summer St., West Somerville, however sister Dora was not mentioned as being in the party.

Ninth Census of the United States, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1970

Tenth Census of the United States, Somerville, Massachusetts, 1880

Boston Evening Transcript, February 13, 1892

Hamann, August. Petition for Naturalization, U.S. District Court, Boston Massachusetts, v. 214, pp.65-65a, April 24, 1890

Massachusetts State Census, Cambridge, Ward 02, Middlesex, Massachusetts, 1855

Massachusetts, State Census, Cambridge, Ward 04, Middlesex, Massachusetts, 1865

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