Theophil Wendt

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Theophil Wendt (1874-1951)). Conductor.


Born in London on 22 August 1874.

Wendt’s first engagement as conductor was in 1894 for a circus band in Cairo as part of a holiday job while studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Shortly thereafter in 1896 he was recommended by the Principal of the RAM for a post in piano and harmony at the Diocesan School for Girls in Grahamstown. He was later also appointed as choirmaster and organist at the St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown. He served as an infantry trooper during the Anglo-Boer War and settled in East London in 1902. Here he conducted a performance of The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan.

He travelled and worked in Argentina and London, joining George Edwardes’ Light Opera Company with which he toured for almost two years. The company toured South Africa between 1911 and 1913. Whilst on tour with the Light Opera Company, a deputation of Cape Town musicians met with Wendt and encouraged him to apply for the post of conductor for the newly formed Cape Town Municipal Orchestra, and on 1 January 1914 he was appointed as conductor of the first professional symphony orchestra in South Africa.

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

He conducted a production of The Mikado in East London in 1902.

Wendt was the first conductor of the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra.


Sjoerd Alkema. 2012. "Conductors of the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra, 1914-1965: a historical perspective". University of Cape Town. Unpublished PhD thesis.

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities W

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to Main Page