Sam Hanna Bell Samuel Beckett John Hewitt Bernard (Barney) Hughes James Joseph Magennis VC Frances Elizabeth Clarke Stewart Parker William Carleton Rosamond Praegar

Heinz Hammerschlag (1905 - 1998):
Musician; textile manufacturer

Heinz Hammerschlag arrived in Belfast in March 1939 while Germany was moving to complete the dismembering of his native Czechoslovakia. Born in the city of Brno, capital of Moravia (Morava in Czech), son of a textile manufacturer who intended him for the trade, the keenly musical Hammerschlag nevertheless also studied in Berlin at the Stern Conservatory (the Stern'sches Konservatorium), the State Academy for Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna (the Staatsakademie für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, which not long before had produced the legendary Herbert von Karajan) and the Paris Conservatoire, becoming a highly accomplished violinist.

He decided to stay in Belfast and pursue his trade and his musical interests. He was a born pedagogue, never reluctant to provide counsel and opportunity, vocational training for otherwise unskilled young labour at his large textile concern, and always keenly encouraging of musicians. He quickly became well known as a chamber music player: continuing this central European tradition of Hausmusik, he regularly was to be found, with like-minded friends and acquaintances, playing in their homes. These musical activities, especially during the war years with all their restrictions, are still remembered today, Hammerschlag's exceptional violin playing (and vibrant personality) especially so.

His first marriage to Alice Berger, an abstract artist from Vienna who was widely exhibited throughout Ireland and was associated with the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, ended on her passing in 1969; in 1974 he remarried, his new wife a Northern Irish musician, Joy Roger. Queen's University, Belfast awarded him an honorary MA in 1983.

Born: 4 December 1905
Died: 21 January 1998
Richard Froggatt

Wesley McCann


Obituary, The Guardian, 25.2.98; Belfast Telegraph, 5.4.2007, "The legend who lived in lost Belfast" (Diarmuid Kennedy); personal knowledge