GLACKEMEYER, FREDERICK (baptized Johann Friedrich Conrad), musician, merchant, composer, and music teacher; b. 10 Aug. 1759 in Hanover (Federal Republic of Germany), son of Johann Wilhelm Glackemeyer and Anna Sabina Queren; m. first 25 Sept. 1784 Marie-Anne O’Neil at Quebec, and they had 16 children, including Louis-Édouard* and Henriette, who married Théodore-Frédéric Molt*; m. there secondly 2 Sept. 1813 Josephte Just, and they had a son and a daughter; d. there 13 Jan. 1836.

As available documents and Pierre-Georges Roy*’s article on the family show, little is known about Frederick Glackemeyer’s life before 1784. He had enlisted in 1777 and served as bandmaster of a detachment of German troops under Lieutenant-Colonel Johann Gustav von Ehrenkrock, but there is no information about the date of his arrival in the province of Quebec. When he received his discharge from the army in 1783, Major-General Friedrich Adolph von Riedesel, the officer commanding the German troops on duty in the province, offered him a position as organist at Lauterbach (Federal Republic of Germany), but he decided to settle in the town of Quebec.

From June 1784 till September 1832 Glackemeyer was involved in activities that connected him with amateur musicians, various officials, and certain figures and institutions of the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec. In mid 1784 he began the first phase of a long career spent serving music-lovers and supporting a number of musical activities that existed somewhat precariously in the town. Throughout the period 1784–1825 he sold musical instruments imported from England at his home and also taught a variety of instruments there. In 1784 he was giving instruction on the piano, guitar, violin, and flute, to which by 1825 he had added the viola and cello. The opening of numerous commercial establishments by 1785 may have forced Glackemeyer to take on related tasks (copying music, repairing and tuning various instruments), as well as to carry a much larger quantity and diversity of instruments and accessories, including from 1788 musical scores. Like his rivals, Glackemeyer by then made use of the press. From November 1788 to November 1796 and January 1808 to April 1826, he quite regularly inserted advertisements of goods and services in the Quebec Gazette, the Quebec Mercury, the Quebec Herald, Miscellany and Advertiser, and from 1794 the Times (Quebec), of which he was a founding subscriber. He also participated in musical events in 1792 and 1831 as a singer and was the leading tenor in a concertante by Ignaz Pleyel presented on 30 Jan. 1822 by the Quebec Harmonic Society. It is likely that the £10 paid him late in 1790 by the Quebec Assembly, an association that organized dances, was for work as a professional musician.

The great frequency with which Glackemeyer moved his business from place to place – he was at 25 Côte de la Montagne in October 1790, on Rue Buade in October 1792, at 5 Rue Sainte-Famille in 1795 and at no. 19 in 1798, and on Rue Saint-Joseph (Rue Garneau) from February 1814 until at least 1826 – may be related to his limited commercial success, which was not helped by the financial difficulties, uncertain health, and family problems that cast a shadow over his life around 1822. At that time Glackemeyer witnessed the temporary disappearance of the Quebec Harmonic Society. It had been founded in December 1819 and he had been made vice-president at a general meeting held in the town on 14 Nov. 1820.

Glackemeyer’s name had come to public attention when on at least two occasions – in December 1785 and August 1791 – he joined other Quebec citizens in signing formal addresses published in the Montreal and Quebec periodicals. Glackemeyer had a second means of recognizing dignitaries: composing musical works with special titles, for example, “General Craigs March,” a signed work written during Sir James Henry Craig*’s term as governor (1807–11), and “Chateauguay March,” an arrangement for orchestra played at a dinner in honour of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles-Michel d’Irumberry* de Salaberry on 24 Sept. 1818. According to musician and journalist Nazaire Levasseur*, Glackemeyer became friends with Prince Edward* Augustus during his stay at Quebec, and as a result the prince appointed him bandmaster of a regiment from Brandenburg-Schwerin stationed at Quebec on George III’s orders. As bandmaster he is said to have given open-air concerts twice weekly on the Esplanade. Levasseur’s claim is, however, suspect.

An enumeration of the parish of Notre-Dame in Quebec done in the autumn of 1792 by curé Joseph-Octave Plessis* indicated that Glackemeyer resided on Rue Buade, was German, Protestant, and a musician, and that he had four parishioners, two of them communicants, living in his house. Although, according to Pierre-Georges Roy, he was not converted to Catholicism until late in life, his children, like both his wives, were practising Catholics. This situation explains why the fabrique hired Glackemeyer in the years from 1802 to 1824 to adjust, tune, and repair the organ, although not to play it. Glackemeyer undertook to write a “March compôsée pour le Revd. Monr. Tabeau,” probably to mark the installation as organist of the young curate Pierre-Antoine Tabeau* at the end of June or beginning of July 1807. The Ursulines hail Glackemeyer as the music-master of longest standing in the annals of the convent.

Given the present state of knowledge of the period in Canadian musical history during which Glackemeyer was active at Quebec, it is scarcely possible to adjust the general appreciation put forward by his biographers, which is based more on his personal merits than on his pre-eminence or the importance of his contribution to Quebec’s cultural life. Nevertheless it does seem that Glackemeyer’s competence to give instruction on the various instruments he professed himself ready to teach can be called in question. Indeed, John Lambert*, who spent some time at Quebec during the first decade of the 19th century, likely had Glackemeyer in mind when he noted that “there are only two music-masters in Quebec, one of them is a good violin performer; but for any other instrument, they are very indifferent teachers.” The “March compôsée pour le Revd. Monr. Tabeau” bears out this remark: the fingering scattered through the score shows an obvious lack of skill at the manual. However, such doubts do not extend to the composer’s style of writing and techniques of composition in the well-structured works that have survived.

It may well be that Glackemeyer, like Marie-Hippolyte-Antoine Dessane* after him, pursued some ideal in the field of music. But judging from a passage in a letter written to Quebec lawyer Louis Moquin on 22 July 1824, he appears rather to have been a businessman anxious to augment his modest means in order to secure a good education and an honourable place in society for his numerous children.

Lucien Poirier

ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 2 sept. 1813, 15 janv. 1836; CE1-61, 25 sept. 1784. AP, Notre-Dame de Québec, Enregistrement des bancs, 1813–14; Livre de comptes, 1802–24; Livre de comptes rendus par le procureur de l’œuvre et fabriques, 1814; Orgues, cloches, tableaux, 1802, 1818. Arch. of the City of Hanover (Federal Republic of Germany), Reg. of baptisms, 13 Aug. 1759. ASQ, S, carton 7, no.53; carton 11, no.39; Coll. Glackemeyer, titre de la reliure F, piano-forte, 52–53, 63–64. BVM-G, Coll. Gagnon, corr., Frederick Glackemeyer à Louis Moquin, 22 juill. 1824. Private arch., Béatrice Miller-Desmeules (Québec), Cécile Lagueux, “[Livre de musique]” (ms). John Lambert, Travels through Canada, and the United States of North America, in the years 1806, 1807, & 1808 . . . (3rd ed., 2v., London, 1816), 1: 302. Recensement de Québec, 1818 (Provost), 241. Le Canadien, 26 sept. 1818; 25 août, 1er sept. 1824. L’Écho du pays (Saint-Charles[-sur-Richelieu], Qué.), 21 janv. 1836. Montreal Gazette, 1 Dec. 1785, 2 June 1791. Quebec Gazette, 24 June 1784; 7 Oct. 1790; 18–19 Aug. 1791; 23 Feb., 25 Oct. 1792; 18 July 1793; 26 June 1794; 16 July 1795; 3 Nov. 1796; 14 May 1801; 13 Jan., 26 May 1803; 14 June 1804; 27 June 1805; 12 June 1806; 30 June 1808; 25 May, 14 Sept. 1809; 14 June 1810; 13 July 1815; 13 May 1819; 27 June 1822; 21 April 1823; 15 Sept. 1825; 8 June 1831. Quebec Herald, Miscellany and Advertiser, 24 Nov. 1788; 20 May, 9 Dec. 1790. Quebec Mercury, 1 May 1809; 28 June 1814; 24, 31 Jan. 1815; 12 Oct. 1819; 24 Nov. 1820; 21 June 1822; 1 June, 14, 24 Aug. 1824; 13 Sept. 1825; 11 April 1826; 7, 24, 26 Sept. 1832. Times (Quebec), 18 Aug. 1794; 8 June, 13 July 1795. Dictionnaire biographique des musiciens canadiens (2e éd., Lachine, Qué., 1935), 122–23. Encyclopedia of music in Canada, ed. Helmut Kallmann et al. (Toronto, 1981). P.-B. Marineau, “De ses archives, ‘L’église paroissiale de Québec,’ son service musical, 1760–1865: investigation, collection et publication” (travail présenté au Conservatoire de musique du Québec, Qué., 1977). Willy Amtmann, La musique au Québec, 1600–1875, Michelle Pharand, trad. (Montréal, 1976), 28, 272–81, 291, 294, 303, 407. Burke, Les ursulines de Québec, 4: 673–74. Canadian musical heritage, 4a, ed. Lucien Poirier (Ottawa, 1985), 13–15; 7, ed. Lucien Poirier (Ottawa, 1987), 78–79. V. E. DeMarce, The settlement of former German auxiliary troops in Canada after the American revolution (Sparta, Wis., 1984). Bernard Dufebvre [Émile Castonguay], Cinq femmes et nous (Québec, 1950), 102, 177–81. J. M. Gibbon, Canadian mosaic: the making of a northern nation (Toronto, 1938). Helmut Kallmann, A history of music in Canada, 1534–1914 (Toronto and London, 1960), 46, 49–52, 54–55, 60–62, 67, 78, 81, 125. Marcelle Rousseau, “The rise of music in Canada” (ma thesis, Columbia Univ., New York, 1951), 44–45. Helmut Kallmann, “Frederick Glackmeyer: des données nouvelles sur sa vie et son style musical,” Assoc. pour l’avancement de la recherche en musique de Québec, Cahier (Québec), 8 (1987): 86–92. Nazaire LeVasseur, “Musique et musiciens à Québec: souvenirs d’un amateur,” La Musique (Québec), 1 (1919): 26–27, 52–53, 62–64, 74–75. P.-G. Roy, “La famille Glackemeyer,” BRH, 22 (1916): 195–205.

Cite This Article

Lucien Poirier, “GLACKEMEYER, FREDERICK (baptized Johann Friedrich Conrad),” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed July 25, 2024,

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Author of Article:   Lucien Poirier
Title of Article:   GLACKEMEYER, FREDERICK (baptized Johann Friedrich Conrad)
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1988
Year of revision:   1988
Access Date:   July 25, 2024