ZELMAN, Alberto (1874-1927)

ZELMAN, Alberto (1874-1927)
was born at Melbourne on 15 November 1874. His father, Alberto Zelman, the elder, was born at Trieste, Austria, in 1832 of Italian parents. He was educated as a musician and made his mark as a conductor in Northern Italy. He then went to Calcutta, India, where he was successful for some years as a teacher and conductor, and about 1870 came to Australia as conductor of an opera company. He settled at Melbourne, was much esteemed as a man and as a musician, was for many years conductor of the Melbourne Liedertafel, and was a well-known teacher of the pianoforte. His compositions included orchestral works, masses and many solos for the violin. He died at Melbourne on 27 December 1907 leaving a widow; and four sons. Of his sons, Alberto also took up music. He was educated at King's College, Melbourne, and showed early talent as a violinist, afterwards becoming a teacher of the violin. He was connected with the Melbourne Philharmonic Society for over 30 years, first as leader of the second violins in the orchestra, and from 1912 as conductor. He was leader of the British Musical Society's quartet, and after the death of Marshall Hall (q.v.) founded and conducted the Melbourne symphony orchestra. Considering that this orchestra had no endowment Zelman did remarkable work with it, and he was always hoping that all the musical interests in Melbourne would pool their resources so that his native city should have a permanent, properly supported orchestra. In 1922 he visited Europe, and at Berlin was invited to conduct the Berlin philharmonic orchestra. He was enthusiastically received, and in November of the same year conducted the London symphony orchestra at London, but was less successful than at Berlin. On returning to Australia Zelman resumed his teaching and conducting, and died at Melbourne after a short illness on 3 March 1927. He married Maude Harrington, a well-known singer, who survived him. He had no children. A brother, Victor Zelman, studied painting and became known as a capable painter of landscapes; an example of his work is in the national gallery, Melbourne. Zelman was a slight, rather wistful looking figure of a man, devoted to music, and free from the jealousies not infrequent among musicians. He was kindly and sympathetic, a good violinist and an excellent and enthusiastic conductor. His too early death was a loss to musical culture in Australia.
The Age, Melbourne, 30 December 1907, 4 March 1927; The Argus, Melbourne, 4, 7, 14 March 1927; personal knowledge.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Zelman — /ˈzɛlmən/ (say zelmuhn) noun Alberto, 1874–1927, Australian musician; founder of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 1906, now known as the Victorian Symphony Orchestra …  

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