Julius Stern (Musiker)

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Julius Stern

Julius (proper name Isaiah Isaac) Stern (* 8 August 1820 in Breslau; † 27 February 1883 in Berlin[1]) was a German music educator and composer of Jewish faith. He significantly revitalized Berlin ‘s musical life in the mid-19th century by founding the Stern’schen Gesangverein (1847), the Stern’schen Orchesterverein (1855), and the Stern’schen Konservatorium (1850), Berlin’s first conservatory.


Stern was the son of music dealer Moritz Stern (1778-after 1859) and his wife Täubchen, née Berliner.[1] He received his first violin lessons from his father, and later from Ignaz Peter Lüstner (1793-1873). Together with his sister and pianist Julie and his father Stern came to Berlin in 1832, his mother and younger sisters joined him a short time later. He first began an apprenticeship in a silk factory in 1835 before being accepted as an eleve at the music section of the Royal Prussian Academy of Arts in 1837, studying counterpoint and composition. At the age of 14 he became a member of the Berlin Sing-Akademie as a choral altoist, and in 1843 he is listed in the membership directory as a tenor.[2] In Berlin Stern received violin lessons from Hubert Ries and Leopold Ganz, who were members of the Royal Court Orchestra.[3][4]

Between 1838 and 1854 Stern maintained an intense correspondence with Robert Schumann, whom he admired, and to whom he dedicated his Lieder op. 8 in 1841. In 1853/54, both composers even considered an “exchange” of their posts (Düsseldorf/Berlin).[5]

A two-year travel scholarship from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, arranged on the recommendation of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Giacomo Meyerbeer, enabled Stern to study singing in Dresden with Johannes Aloys Miksch from 1843. Stern also traveled to Paris, arriving there in September 1843. Here he succeeded Conradin Kreutzer as director of the German Singing Society and met Hector Berlioz. He also stayed with the banker Auguste Léo, where he met Frédéric Chopin.

In 1846 Stern returned to Berlin and in 1847 founded the “Stern’schen Gesangverein”, which soon became a rival to the Sing-Akademie. The founding of the “Stern’schen Gesangverein” can be traced back to the musical societies of the singer Henriette Sonntag, née Countess Rossi. She entrusted Stern with the direction of these semi-public performances in her home in 1846. The founding members of the society on October 15, 1847, besides Stern and the treasurer Theodor Leo, were Isabella Behr, Charlotte von Bronikowska (née von Bülow), Bertha Friedheim, Natalie Jähningen, Marie Jüngken, Henriette von Merckel, and Caroline Seidler-Wranitzky.[6] The first rehearsals and performances took place in Stern’s spacious apartments, and later the singing society performed at various venues in Berlin, including Arnim’s Hall, the concert hall of the Schauspielhaus at Gendarmenmarkt, and the Singakademie.[7] The “Stern’sche Gesangverein”, which Stern directed until 1874 (and which continued to exist until 1911/12[8]), initially performed works by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and later also the Choral Fantasy, Missa solemnis and 9th Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven. The repertoire also included Bach’s Magnificat and works by Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Weber and Schumann. The choir also performed with notable soloists of its time such as Joseph Joachim, Amalie Joachim, and Clara Schumann.[9] In 1849 Stern was appointed Royal Director of Music for his services. In Berlin Stern took up residence in various tenement houses, around 1848 initially at Spittelbrücke 2,[10] and from the 1870s at Friedrichstrasse 214 in the center of Berlin.[11]

Together with Theodor Kullak and Adolf Bernhard Marx, Julius Stern founded the “Music School for Singing, Piano and Composition” (from 1852 “Conservatory of Music”) in 1850; it was the first conservatory in Berlin. On 20 January 1852 he married Elisabeth Meyer (1831-1919), eleven years his junior, daughter of the Berlin merchant Itzig Meyer,[12] whose sister Jenny Meyer (1834-1894) later became an esteemed concert singer. From 1857, after the departure of the two co-founders, the school operated as the Stern’sche Konservatorium. The institute, which was directed by Stern until 1877 and existed until its expropriation by the Nazis in 1935/36, was one of the most important educational institutions for young musicians in Berlin and had both renowned teachers and students. In addition to being the sole director of the conservatory, Stern also took on the post of conductor of the choir of the synagogue of the Reform congregation in Johannisstraße under Rabbi Samuel Holdheim.[13]

In 1855 Stern founded the “Stern’schen Orchesterverin” (Stern’s Orchestra Association) in order to no longer be dependent on the Königliche Kapelle, until then Berlin’s only orchestra, for performances. The orchestral society performed, among others. Works by Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Wagner, and Liszt, among others, with Liszt conducting his own works at a concert of the Orchesterverein on December 6, 1855. Since the association was financed only by its income, it existed only until 1857 due to economic problems.[14]

From 1869 to 1871 Stern directed the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, originally founded by Carl Liebig in 1843. In 1873/74 he took over the direction of the Reichshallen concerts. In the same year he joined the Society of Friends. Stern was appointed Royal Professor in 1860 on account of his services.[15]

The grave of Julius Stern is located at the Jewish Cemetery Weißensee in field A1, row 22.


Berlin memorial plaque on the house, Friedrichstraße 214, in Berlin-Kreuzberg

The Berlin University of the Arts named an institute after the composer: Julius Stern Institute for the Promotion of Young Musicians.[16]
On 16 October 2014, the Senate of Berlin and the District Office of Mitte honoured the musician’s work by placing a Berlin commemorative plaque on his last residence, Friedrichstraße 214.[17]

Works (selection)

At a young age, Stern composed a number of songs that were quite popular in their day.

  • op. 1: Five songs. Gustav Crantz, Berlin 1839
  • op. 3: Pictures of the Orient after texts by Heinrich Stieglitz. Gustav Crantz, Berlin 1839
  • op. 4: Barcarole for high voice, violoncello and piano. Gustav Crantz, Berlin 1839
  • op. 8: Six poems by Reinick, Eichendorff, Burns, Chamisso. Heinrichshofen, Magdeburg 1841 (dedicated to Robert Schumann[18])
  • op. 9: Sacred overture. Hofmeister, Leipzig 1843
  • op. 10: Six poems. Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig 1842


  • Richard Stern, Erinnerungsblätter an Julius Stern, Leipzig 1886
  • Robert Eitner:Stern, Julius. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Vol. 36, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1893, p. 106 f.
  • Festschrift on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Conservatory, edited by Ernst Eduard Taubert, Berlin 1900
  • Bodo Rollka, Volker Spiess, Bernhard Thieme: Berlin Biographical Dictionary, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-7759-0369-0, p. 385
  • Cordula Heymann-Wentzel: “The Stern’sche Conservatory of Music in Berlin – a Private Educational Institute Owned by Berlin Jewish Families.” In: Beatrix Borchard, Heidy Zimmermann (eds.): Musikwelten – Lebenswelten. Jüdische Identitätssuche in der deutschen Musikkultur, Cologne 2000, ISBN 978-3-412-20254-5, pp. 249-263
  • Dietmar Schenk: “Das Stern’sche Konservatorium der Musik. Ein deutsch-jüdisches Privatkonservatorium der Bürgerkultur Berlins, 1850-1936”. In: Berlin in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Yearbook of the Berlin State Archives 2000, pp. 57-79
  • Ottokar Hahn: The Julius Stern Institute: Present and History. Festschrift on the occasion of the 155th anniversary of its foundation. University of the Arts, Berlin 2005, ISBN 978-3-89462-124-7
  • Dietmar Schenk, “Das Stern’sche Konservatorium der Musik 1850-1915”. In Musical Education in Europe (1770-1914). Compositional, Institutional, and Political Challenges, ed. by Michael Fend and Michel Noiray. Berlin 2005, vol. 1, pp. 275-297
  • Marcus Chr. Lippe: “Stern, Julius”. In: Ludwig Finscher (ed.), Musik in Geschichte undGegenwart, Personenteil Bd. 15, Kassel 2006, Sp. 1438
  • Richard Stern: Reminiscences of Julius Stern. Xlibris Corporation, 2008, ISBN 978-0-554-70627-6
  • Andresen, Geertje, “Stern, Julius”. In: New German Biography 25 (2013), p. 271 [online version]; URL:
  • Cordula Heymann-Wentzel: Das Stern’sche Konservatorium der Musik in Berlin. Rekonstruktion einer verdrängten Geschichte, dissertation UDK Berlin, 2014, online at:
  • Briefwechsel Robert und Clara Schumanns mit Korrespondenten in Berlin 1832 bis 1883, ed. by Klaus Martin Kopitz, Eva Katharina Klein, Thomas Synofzik (= Schumann-Briefedition, Serie II, Band 17). Dohr, Cologne 2015, ISBN 978-3-86846-028-5, pp. 637-694

Web links

Commons: Julius Stern– Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. a b Death register StA Berlin II, No. 145/1883
  2. Hinrich Lichtenstein On the history of the Singakademie in Berlin, Berlin 1843, p. 40.
  3. Cordula Heymann-Wentzel: Das Stern’sche Konservatorium der Musik in Berlin. Rekonstruktion einer verdrängten Geschichte, dissertation UDK Berlin, 2014, p. 60f. Online at:
  4. Andresen, Geertje, “Stern, Julius” in: Neue Deutsche Biographie 25 (2013), p. 271 [online version]; URL:
  5. Cf. the correspondence between Robert Schumann and Julius Stern between 22 November 1853 and 14 February 1854, in: Schumann-Briefedition, Serie II, vol. 17: Briefwechsel mit Freunden und Künstlerkollegen (Briefwechsel Clara Schumanns mit Korrespondenten in Berlin 1832 bis 1883), ed. by Klaus Martin Kopitz, Eva Katharina Klein, Thomas Synofzik, Cologne 2015, pp. 680-690.
  6. Heymann-Wentzel, 2014, p. 84f.
  7. Heymann-Wentzel, 2014, pp. 88-91.
  8. Heymann-Wentzel, 2014, pp. 111, 117.
  9. Heymann-Wentzel, 2014, pp. 93-97.
  10. Stern, J. In: Allgemeiner Wohnungsanzeiger für Berlin, Charlottenburg und Umgebungen, 1849, Teil 1, S. 469. “Componist und Gesanglehrer”.
  11. Stern, Julius. In: Berliner Adreßbuch, 1874, Teil 1, S. 824. “Königlicher Professor und Musikdirector, Director des Stern’schen Gesangvereins, des Conservatoriums und der Reichshallenkapelle”.
  12. Jacob Jacobson: Die Judenbürgerbücher der Stadt Berlin. Berlin 1962, p. 180.
  13. Heymann-Wentzel, 2000, p. 261.
  14. Heymann-Wentzel, 2014, pp. 133-140.
  15. Marcus Chr. Lippe: “Stern, Julius”, in: Ludwig Finscher (ed.), Musik in Geschichte undGegenwart, Personenteil Bd. 15, Kassel 2006, Sp. 1438.
  16. Julius Stern Institute of the UdK
  17. A memorial plaque for Julius Stern. In: Berliner Zeitung, 17 October 2014.
  18. Schumann-Briefedition, Serie II, Vol. 17: Briefwechsel mit Freunden und Künstlerkollegen (Briefwechsel Clara Schumanns mit Korrespondenten in Berlin 1832 bis 1883), ed. by Klaus Martin Kopitz, Eva Katharina Klein, Thomas Synofzik, Cologne 2015, p. 639.