Auguste van Biene

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Auguste van Biene (1849–1913)[1] was a Dutch born composer, cellist and actor.


Born and bred in Rotterdam, he studied music at the Brussels Conservatory then went to London, where he eventually became the principal cellist in Sir Michael Costa's Covent Garden orchestra. He later became a touring musical director for Richard D'Oyly Carte's Comedy Opera Company, and in the 1880s he conducted successful light operas and Victorian burlesques. By the 1880s he had also become a theatrical manager as well as an actor and playwright. In 1892 he commissioned Herbert Keen and James T. Tanner (1858-1915)[2] to write a highly successful musical play called The Broken Melody for him. He wrote the score and starred in the work, and toured with it for many years, with his second wife, the actress Mrs Van Biene (1873–1955)[3] as part of the company.

He died on 23 January 1913 while on stage at the Brighton Hippodrome, playing the cello in the play The Master Musician, with his son conducting the orchestra.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

He visited South Africa in 1903 to perform The Broken Melody in the Good Hope Theatre on 13 July, before what Boonzaier refers to as "one of the biggest audiences ever assembled in that theatre". Boonzaier says he also saw him in a play called Dear Old Dad, probably during this period.


D.C. Boonzaier. 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.415

Go to the ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities V

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page