Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications

School of Music


Hellmesberger Family

1) Georg Hellmesberger, snr.

b. Vienna, 24.4.1900. - d. Neuwaldig, nr. Vienna, 16/8.1873.

Teachers: - For violin, his father, Simon Hellmesberger, Joseph Böhm; for theory and composition, E. A. Förster. He entered the Vienna Conservatory when it started instrumental tuition in 1819. From 1810-12 he had been, in the company of Schubert, a chorister at the K and K Seminary.


Caroline Unger, Johann Michael Vogt, Ignaz Schuppanzigh, Nicolas Lenau, Karl Holz, Otto Nicolai.

Professional Appointments

  • Assistant violin teacher, Vienna Conservatory, 1821.
  • Titular Professor there, 1826.
  • Full Professor, 1833.
  • Director of the Hofoper orchestra, 1829.
  • Member of the Hofkapelle. 1830.
  • Concertmaster at the first concert of the Wiener Philharmoniker in 1842.
  • Georg Hellmesberger retired from his positions in 1867.

Chamber Ensembles

Formed a String Quartet in the 1830s with Leopold Jansa, Mathias Durst, and Aegidius Borzaga.


  • His sons, Joseph and Georg, Jacob Dont, Mathias Durst, Karl Heissler, Johann and Joseph Schrammel, Ludwig Straus.

2) Joseph Hellmesberger, snr.

  • b. Vienna, 3.11.1828.
  • d. Vienna, 24.10.1893

Teacher: father, Georg Hellmesberger.

Associates: Brahms, Bruckner, Otto Nicolai, Johann von Herbeck, Wagner, Raff, Volkmann.

Professional appointments

  • Director, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (1851-93).
  • Conductor, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (1851-9).
  • Teacher at Vienna Conservatory from 1851.
  • Concertmaster, Hofoper (from 1860).
  • Solo violin, Hofkapelle, (from 1863).
  • Court Kapellmeister (1877-93).

Chamber ensembles: Hellmesberger Quartet, founded 1849. Original membership; Karl Heissler, Mathias Durst and Carl Schlesinger. 1855 line-up: Durst, F.Dobyhal, Borzaga. In 1858 Bernhard Cossmann became the cellist, then in 1859 Heinrich Röver. Reinhold Hummer, Joseph Sulzer and David Popper also appeared as cellist. In 1867 Adolf Brodsky became second violinist, and in 1870, Joseph Hellmesberger jnr. took over. In 1883 the quartet included three Hellmesbergers, with Ferdinand Hellmesberger as cellist. Viola, J. Maxintsak, a pupil of Joseph snr.

Pupils: Leopold Auer, Adolf Brodsky, Arthur Nikisch, Hans Wessely, Franz Drdla, Joseph Hellmesberger, jnr., Hermann Graedener, Johann and Joseph Schrammel, Fritz Kreisler, Franz Kneisel.

3) Georg Hellmesberger, jnr.

b. Vienna, 27.1.1830. d. Hanover, 12.11 1852.

Teachers: for violin, his father, Georg Hellmesberger, snr.; for theory and composition, Prof. Ritter.

Associates: Joseph Joachim, with whom he appeared together with his brother Joseph in London in 1847; the singer, Josef Staudigl.

Professional appointments

  • Director of Ballet, Hanover Court Theatre, 1850.
  • Kapellmeister at the Hanover Court, 1851.

Georg Hellmesberger was a prolific composer, producing over a hundred works, including several operas.

4) Joseph Hellmesberger, jnr. ("Pepi" Hellmesberger)

b. Vienna, 9.4.1855 d. Vienna, 25.4.1907

Teacher: his father, Josef Hellmesberger, snr.

Associates: Hans Richter, Gustav Mahler, Arnold Rosé

Professional appointments

  • Solo violin at the Hofoper and the Hofkapelle, 1878.
  • Director of ballet music and concertmaster at the Hofoper, 1884.
  • Vice-Kapellmeister, 1889.
  • Hofkapellmeister, 1899
  • Director, Vienna Philharmonic, 1901-3.
  • In 1903, Josef Hellmesberger resigned his official positions in Vienna, following a scandalous affair with a ballet dancer. In 1904-5 he was Kapellmeister in Stuttgart.

Chamber ensembles: Joseph jnr. joined the Hellmesberger Quartet in 1870. After his father's retirement in 1889, he took over its leadership: the other members were Julius Egghart (violin 2), Theodor Schwendt (viola), and his brother Ferdinand (cello). The quartet was dissolved in 1905, when Ferdinand moved to Berlin (see below).

Pupils: George Enescu [more to follow].

5) Ferdinand Hellmesberger; son of Joseph Hellmesberger, snr.

b. Vienna, 24.1.1863. d. Vienna, 15.3.1940.

Professional Appointments

  • From 1884 to 1902 taught at the Vienna Conservatory.
  • 1886-1902: member of the Hofoper Orchestra.
  • 1902: became Kapellmeister at the Kaiser-Jubiläums-Stadttheater, which became the venue of the Vienna Volksoper.
  • 1905-1910: Director of ballet at the Royal Opera in Berlin.
  • After 1910 was director of the spa orchestras in Baden bei Wien, Marienbad, and Karlsbad.


  • R.M. Proel - Die Hellmesberger (Vienna, 1947).
  • O. Strasser - Joseph Hellmesberger (in Musikblatter der Wiener Philharmoniker xlviii/4 (1993) 117-24).


The Hellmesberger editions fall into three categories.

1) The 1865 Peters edition of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas is clearly the work of Joseph senior (though heavily indebted to Ferdinand David's 1843 edition).

2) The editions of chamber music published by Universal around the turn of the twentieth century are all described as edited by the Hellmesberger Quartet; from the date one might assume the dominant figure to be Joseph jnr., with perhaps some input to the cello part from Ferdinand, but it also seems likely that the indicated bowings (there are very few fingerings) represent a tradition going back to the days when Joseph snr. led the ensemble. Such a view is corroborated by the description of the Schumann Op 47 Quartet as being edited by Georg and Joseph Hellmesberger.

3) The editions by "Joseph Hellmesberger" of violin concertos, published by Cranz and Universal. Again it is not easy to decide whether father or son is responsible for the annotations, but here too it seems likely that Pepi, if he had studied these works with his father, would, on overseeing the publications, have retained many of his markings.

  • Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Violin solo, BWV 1001-6 (Peters, 1865).
  • Beethoven: String Quartet in B flat, Op 18 No 6 (Universal, 1901).
  • Beethoven: Violin Concerto, Op 61 (Cranz, c. 1910).
  • Haydn: String Quartets Op 54, in G, C, and E (Universal, c. 1901).
  • Haydn: String Quartets Op 74, in C, F, and G minor (Universal, c. 1901).
  • Haydn: String Quartets Op 76, in G, D minor, C, B flat, D, and E flat (Universal, c. 1901.
  • Mendelssohn: Octet, Op 20 (Universal, c. 1902).
  • Mendelssohn: String Quintet, Op 18 (Universal, c. 1903).
  • Mendelssohn: String Quintet, Op 87 (Universal, c. 1902).
  • Mendelssohn: String Quartets, Op 12, 13, 44 nos 1-3, 80, and 81 (Universal, c.1902).
  • Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Op 64 (Cranz, 1898).
  • Mozart: Clarinet Quintet, K581 (Universal, c. 1902).
  • Mozart: String Quartets, K387, 421, 428, 458, 464, 465, 499, 575, 589, and 590 (Universal, c. 1903).
  • Mozart: String Quintet, K593 (Universal, date unknown).
  • Rode: Violin Concerto No 4 (Universal, date unknown).
  • Rode: Violin Concerto No 8 (Cranz, date unknown).
  • Rode: Violin Concerto No 11 (Universal, 1901).
  • Schubert: String Quartet, D804 (Universal, 1901).
  • Schubert: String Quartet, D810 (Universal, 1901).
  • Schubert: Sonatas ("Sonatinas") for violin and piano, D384, 385, 408 (Universal, c. 1903).
  • Schumann: Piano Quartet, Op 47 (Universal, c. 1903).
  • Schumann: Piano Quintet, Op 44 (Universal, c. 1903).
  • Spohr: Violin Concertos Nos 7, 8, and 12 - Op 38, 47 and 79 (Cranz, 1898).
  • Spohr: Violin Concertos Nos 9 and 11 - Op 55 and 70 (Cranz, 1900).
  • Viotti: Violin Concerto No 22 (Universal, 1901).