Georg Hausmann, cellist
Georg Hausmann was the second son of Bernhard Hausmann of Hannover. He came from a well-established, middle-class, and musical family. Bernhard, like his father Martin, had a strong love for art and music, and played the violin in amateur music-making gatherings throughout his life. Bernhard’s brother Fritz, who became a Professor of Mineralogy at the University of Göttingen, also loved music and was friends with Ludwig Spohr and Carl Maria von Weber. Nevertheless, becoming a professional musician would have been a strange concept for them.
Georg was from a new, “Romantic” generation, the same as Felix Mendelssohn, who had to create the role for himself as a respected, prominent, legitimate member of the public sphere. As primarily a performer, Georg found a different way to make an honorable living. This was through his efforts in establishing and participating in Quartet Societies and Clubs that played the “classical” music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. He also maintained his ties to amateur musicians among the nobility, beginning with his official patron, the Duke of Cambridge (1774-1850), erstwhile Viceroy of Hannover and enthusiastic violinist. On the other hand, he played his own solo bravura cello pieces at any number of concerts all over England, Scotland and Ireland. These ranged from London events with famous names at the venerable Hanover Square concert rooms to being one of a series of humble performers at poorly-attended events in English provincial cities. This was a time of transition for the professional musician. Georg’s generation went from one gig to the next, snatching at the coattails of popular virtuoso performers while looking for something more substantial to come along.
Georg and Robert Hausmann
Georg and Robert were first cousins once removed; Georg was Robert’s great uncle’s son. Besides both being cellists, Robert played Georg’s actual cello. In 1839 Georg bought a 1724 Stradivarius cello from the English instrument collector Andrew Fountaine, which is now known as the “Hausmann” cello. Fountaine (1808-1872) was a wealthy dilettante who at various points in his life owned one Amati, six Stradivarius, and three Guarnerius vioins, together with this Stradivarius cello.
There are many reviews of concerts Georg played that admiringly mention his instrument. One review from Vienna made the peculiar remark in 1858: “His Stradivari is an instrument among the first of its kind, which is why he calls it his wife.”1Sein Stradivari ist ein Instrument erster Gattung, welches er deßhalb seine Frau nennt.” “Aus Wien,” Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (1858): 56.1 When Georg died, the cello became the property of his father, who was a zealous instrumental collector. There was an auction of Bernhard’s instruments after his death in 1873, which received publicity due to the enormous price one of the Stradivarius violins sold for: with a reserve price of 1000 Thalers, it ended up selling for more than twice that (2065 Thalers).2Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 69 (1873): 434.Robert did not inherit the cello directly; Bernhard bequeathed to him the money to buy it at the auction for 200 Thalers.