LAST MODIFIED Wednesday 17 July 2019 7:20

Kohler brothers

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "The Kohler brothers", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 31 March 2020

"MR. RICHARD WILDBLOOD KOHLER", The Illustrated Melbourne Post (25 June 1862) (Samuel Calvert)

KOHLER, Richard Wildblood

(Richard WILDBLOOD, alias KOHLER; R. W. KOHLER; Richard Wildblood KOHLER; Richard KOHLER; R. W. KOHLER; Dick KOHLER)

Professor of the horn, cornopean, cornet-a-piston, concertina, French flageolet, guitar, rock harmonicon, &c., multi-instrumentalist, manager, minstrel serenader

Born Mauritius, c. 1821; son of William WILDBLOOD (c.1794-1862) and Mary WILDBLOOD (c.1797-1849), there with the 82nd Regiment (1819-c.1831)
Arrived (1) Melbourne, VIC, 17 July 1855 (per White Star, from Liverpool, England, 20 April)
Departed (1) Melbourne, VIC, 28 July 1867 (per Avoca, for Galle, via King George's Sound)
Arrived (2) Melbourne, VIC, 13 April 1878 (per Arawata, from NZ, 9 April, with United States Minstrels)
Departed (2) Melbourne, VIC, June 1881 (for NZ)
Died Oakland, California, USA, 26 November 1888 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

KOHLER, John Wildblood

(John WILDBLOOD, alias KOHLER; John W. KOHLER; Jack KOHLER; John Wildblood KOHLER)


Born Cork, Ireland, c. 1831; son of William WILDBLOOD (c.1794-1862) and Mary WILDBLOOD (c.1797-1849)
Arrived (1) Melbourne, VIC, 22 June 1856 (per Shalimar, from Liverpool, 23 March)
Departed (1) Melbourne, VIC, 28 July 1867 (per Avoca, for Galle, via King George's Sound)
Arrived (2) Sydney, NSW, 18 March 1879, (per City of New York, from Honolulu)
Departed (2) ? early 1881 (? for USA)
Died ? San Francisco, California, before 1888 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


Richard Wildblood Kohler, right, and - probably - Horace Bent, ? New Zealand, c. 1866 (photo posted by Allister Hardiman)

Mauritius, Ireland, and Britain (c. 1821 to 1855-56)

From a Shropshire family, Richard Wildblood was born in Mauritius, probably in around 1821, son of William Wildblood (c.1794-1862), who was serving there with the 82nd Regiment, and his wife Mary. His younger brother John was born roughly 10 years later while the regiment was in Cork.

According to the 1862 biographical article, Richard joined his father's regiment in 1835 and served in the band.

He had apparently left the army by April 1843, when he gave two concerts, at Ironbridge and Wellington, back in his home county, Shropshire, playing two cornopean fantasias by Herman Koenig. He next appeared as a cornet soloist in the Edinburgh Musard Concerts in December 1843 and January 1844, on the same bills as the young concertina virtuoso, Richard Blagrove (1826/7-1895).

At the time of the 1851 census Richard was working in Manchester, and had adopted the professional alias of Kohler, effectively creating the impression that he shared some connection with the family of John Augustus Kohler (1805-1878), the London specialist maker of brass musical instruments. His younger brother John, at that stage still calling himself Wildblood, was a 20-year old attorney's clerk.

Over the next few years, Richard led dance bands in Manchester, York, Scarborough, and Bury, and appeared as a soloist on the cornet and concertina.

Australia and New Zealand (1855-56 to 1867)

Richard arrived in Melbourne in 1855 and his brother John a year later. From then until their departure for Galle in 1867 the Kohler Brothers were prominent musical figures in Australia and NZ.

California and the United States (by 1869 to 1879-79)

Having first toured north into Asia, the brothers were in California in mid 1869, performing with Armes Beaumont among others, reportedly prior to making a first visit to the American eastern states.

Australia and New Zealand (1878-79 to 1882)

Richard returned to Australia in 1878 with the United States Minstrels, and left Australia finally, for NZ, with his Hyperion Opera Company in 1881. John joined him for some of this time, arriving from Honolulu in 1879 and departing from Australia probably early in 1881.

In NZ, Richard invested in a waxworks display, which he began showing in Dunedin in June 1881. After his final show, in Auckland, in September 1882, he sailed for Honolulu, and thence to San Francisco.

California (1882 to 1888)

Richard presented his waxworks show in San Francisco in November 1882, and continued presenting it until his last known show, in Oakland, in November 1883. Richard was confined in an asylum by 1884. When he died in 1888, it was reported that John had died earlier.


John Augustus Kohler (1805-1878), the London specialist maker of brass musical instruments.

"Professor W. Kohler" (William Kohler; died Perth, WA, 23 October 1868), magician and "wizard", who also toured the colonies in the 1850s and 1860s

Franz Kohler / Frank Kohler, musician, orchestral horn player, active in Melbourne, c. 1854-60

With thanks to:

Simon Best (NZ) for kindly sharing his research findings into the Kohlers' waxworks show

England and Scotland (to 1855; and later)

18 and 19 April 1843, Ironbridge and Wellington, Shropshire, Richard Wildblood's Easter week concerts

[Advertisement], Eddowes's Journal, and General Advertiser for Shropshire, and the Principality of Wales (22 March 1843), 3

MR. WILDBLOOD HAS the honour to announce his intention to give TWO GRAND EVENING CONCERTS,
The First will take place at the School Room, IRONBRIDGE, on TUESDAY, the 18th of April;
the Second, at the New Town Hall, WELLINGTON, on WEDNESDAY, the 19th Inst..
On which occasion Mr. Herbert Hudson, the Popular Mimetic Vocalist of the day will appear.
Also Mr. John Goodall, the talented Shropshire Violinist, who will perform several of his favourite and highly popular Concerted Pieces, on Violin and Violoncello.
Mr. Wildblood will have the honour of giving two celebrated Fantasias, on that pleasing and much admired Instrument, the Cornopean, by Koenig. Mr. Goodall's Quadrille Band, is expressly engaged for this occasion.
Miss Davies, Organist at St. George's Church, will preside at the Pianoforte. Further Particulars will appear in future Papers.

18 April 1843, journal of Adelaide Darby; in Rachel Labouchere, and Emyr Thomas (eds), Adelaide Darby of Coalbrookdale: her private journal from 1833-1861 (York: Sessions Book Trust in association with Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, 2004), 144

Tuesday 18th April [1843] I have been tonight to a very pretty little concert at the Ironbridge arranged by Mr Wildblood, very spirited of such a young man.

[Advertisement], The Scotsman (9 December 1843), 1

MUSARD CONCERT, WATERLOO ROOMS . . . MONDAY EVENING, 11th December 1843, when the following parties, who were most enthusiastically received at the First Concert, will have the honour of making their Second Appearance: - . . .
Air, "Salut a Angleterre," with Variations, Cornet-a-Pistons, Mr. WILDBLOOD - Koenig . . .
Quadrille Gothique (first time in Scotland), Solos, Flageolet and Cornet-a-Pistons, M. COLLINET and Mr. WILDBLOOD - Musard . . .

[Advertisement], Caledonian Mercury (28 December 1843), 1

at which MASTER BLAGROVE, Celebrated Performer on the CONCERTINA, a New Instrument, MONSIEUR COLLINET, AND MRS. BUSHE, will appear.
Overture "Joko" - LINDPAINTER.
Quadrille, "Polichinelle," Solos, Flageolet and Cornet à Pistons, M. Collinet and Mr. Wildblood - MUSARD . . .
Quadrille, "Royal Irish," which continuing to be most enthusiastically received, will be repeated every evening till further notice, Solos, Flageolet, Cornet a Pistons, and Trombone. M. Collinet, Mr. Wildblood, and Mr. Holtz - JULLIEN . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: Hubert Collinet (1797-1867), flageolet player; Richard Blagrove (1826/7-1895), concertina player

"MUSARD CONCERTS", Caledonian Mercury (11 January 1844), 2

The fourth Musard concert took place in the Waterloo Room on Monday evening, but was rather thinly attended, although there was a well selected variety of overtures, quadrilles, and waltzes. A solo and fantasia on the concertina was performed by Master Blagrove, who displayed a great deal of taste in the management of this sweet instrument, and was deservedly encored in "Auld Robin Gray." "The Light of other Days," and" La Marche Lointaine," were admirably performed by Messrs Wildblood and Holtz, on the cornets à piston. Mrs. Bushe sang three songs in her best style; and, upon the whole, we think these concerts deserve a larger share of patronage than they have hitherto received during the present season.

"DIED", Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser (22 March 1848), 3

On the 12th instant, aged 23, Mr. William Wildblood, schoolmaster at the Ellesmere Union Workhouse, second son of Mr. Wildblood, master of the Madeley Work-house.

"DIED", Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser (15 August 1849), 3

August 6, aged 51, Mary, wife of Mr. Wildblood, governor of Madeley Union House.

England, census, 1851, 30 March; township of Hulme . . . Borough of Manchester, 1

66 Lloyd Street / Margaret Manners / head / . . .
Richard W. Kohler / 30 / Lodger / Professor of Music / [born] Isle of France . . .

England, census, 1851, 30 March; Madeley, Shropshire; PRO HO 1071989

. . . / Maria Cartwright / Head / 22 / [born] Isle of Mauritius, a British Subject
John Wildblood / Brother / 20 / Attorney's Cl[erk] / [born] Cork Ireland . . .

"SCARBOROUGH . . . Spa Saloon Promenade", The Era [London] (17 August 1851), 12

These rooms are now open every Tuesday and Friday evenings, with an excellent company of vocal and instrumental performers, under the management of Mr. R. W. Kohler.

"SCARBRO' . . . TESTIMONIAL OF ESTEEM TO MR. KOHLER", York Herald [England] (20 September 1851), 6

On Saturday evening, the members of Mr. Kohler's band met at the Bull Hotel, for the purpose of presenting to their valued and respected leader, a testimonial of their esteem and regard. It consisted of a very handsome chased silver snuff box, on which was engraven the following inscription: - "Presented to Mr. R. W. Kohler, as a mark of esteem from the members of his band. Scarbro', September 13th, 1851." This circumstance must indeed be flattering to Mr. Kohler, evidencing, as it does, not only the high opinion entertained of that gentleman's abilities, by his professional colleagues, but the estimation in which his private character is also held by them as his more intimate acquaintances. The presentation was made in an appropriate manner on behalf of the band by Mr. King.

[Advertisement], Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser [England] (22 November 1851), 1

FREE-TRADE HALL. CONCERTS FOR THE PEOPLE. Monday Evening next, November 24th, 1851.
SOLO INSTRUMENTALIST, Mr. KOHLER: Cornet-a-Piston and Concertina . . . Organist and Conductor, Mr. D. W. BANKS . . .
PART I . . . Solo, Concertina - Mr. R. W. Kohler - Rode's air with variations, Blagrove . . .
Song - Mr. Perring, "The peace of the valley", Balfe, Cornet-a-piston Mr. R. W. Kohler . . .
PART II . . . Solo, Cornet-a-Piston - Mr. R. W. Kohler, "Think not of me," Roch Albert . . .

[Advertisement], Manchester Times [England] (1 December 1852), 1

KOHLER'S QUADRILLE BAND. - Mr. R. W. KOHLER begs to inform the Nobility and Gentry of Manchester and the surroundings, that he has RETURNED from Scarborough for the winter season. Public Assemblies or Private Parties attended with Piano Forte, Harp, Cornet-a-Pistons, &c. &c. - Address 38, Lower Moss Lane, Hulme.

"BURY CRICKET CLUB", Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (22 January 1854), 6

The first annual ball of this club came off on Thursday, the 12th inst., in the Town Hall Assembly Rooms, Bury, and was attended by nearly 200 ladies and gentlemen, friends and supporters of this noble game. The music was excellent under the direction of Mr. R. W. Kohler . . .

20 April 1855, Richard departed Liverpool

"WHITE STAR JOURNAL. SATURDAY, JUNE 30, 1855", The Tasmanian Daily News (14 September 1855), 4 

When we attempted in one of our earlier numbers, a review of the population on board the White Star, we alluded to one class which we supposed to be numerously represented, viz., the entertaining classes, or those who professionally minister to the amusement of the public. We are not certain that any artistes from the opera, or ballet are here, and indeed the difficulty there is in getting reliable information, without making direct enquiries, has kept us from the subject; but we know that Herr Kohler, the leader of the orchestra, is among us, and the distant echo of his practising is often to be heard . . .

"SHROPSHIRE TALENT", Shrewsbury Chronicle (17 February 1860), 2

"SHROPSHIRE TALENT", Shrewsbury Chronicle (18 February 1860), 2

The celebrated Mr. R. Kohler, who is alluded to in the following paragraph, from the Bendigo Advertiser, of the 15th December, 1859, is the son of Mr. William Wildblood, master of the Madeley Union, Ironbridge, who is better known the musical world under his nom de guerre of Kohler than his own, who, like a second Orpheus has even tuned the reed of the wilds of Australia and made it "discourse most eloquent music":

Mr. R. Kohler's Benefit - We see by advertisement, that Mr. R. Kohler takes his benefit to-night at the Haymarket Theatre. This talented musician is an old favourite of the public on Bendigo, and not alone on that account deserves a bumper house . . .

"MR. RICHARD WILDBLOOD", The Wellington journal and general advertiser for the counties of Salop and Stafford (30 August 1862), 2

Many of our readers, more especially those residing the neighbourhood Ironbridge, &c., will probably recollect Mr. Wildblood, the celebrated cornopean player. This gentleman sometime since left this country for the antipodes, where he is evidently "astonishing the natives." The following extract, which we fear, however, is not strictly accurate in reference the place of birth, &c., we take from the Illustrated Melbourne Post of June 25th:

Mr. Richard Wildblood Kohler, the popular instrumental performer, who is the subject of the present sketch, is a native of Mauritius. He entered the British Army, in which his father held a high position, in 1835, as one of the 82nd Regiment, and soon distinguished himself a member of the regimental band, the versatility which he displayed as executant being really remarkable. In England, Mr. Kohler's talents were availed of by the late M. Jullien, whose celebrated band he joined. He was also private bandmaster to Lord Londesborough, and subsequently conducted with success the Promenade Concerts at Scarborough. On his arrival in Melbourne in 1856, Mr. Kohler's abilities speedily gained for him a leading position in the front rank of resident musicians, and the high opinion which, from the first, the Australian public formed of his executive qualifications has never undergone any modification of a prejudicial nature. Mr. Kohler is master of a variety of instruments, but, in our opinion, excels as a player of the cornet-a-piston. This instrument, which has been much decried of late as an ingredient of the orchestra, regains its good character in his hands. His tone is soft, pure, and solid, without brassiness, and his execution is as skilful as that of the best of his predecessors and contemporaries. The flageolet, concertina, and rock-harmonicon have no difficulties to oppose to the hand of this accomplished musician, while, as a producer of affects in dance music, he is without a rival. Mr. Kohler is at present engaged at the Theatre Royal, and for the last month his solo and obligato performances on "all kinds of music" have been one the chief attractions of the Promenade Concerts there.

A portrait of Mr. Wildblood is also given the same page. - * Kohler a name assumed by Mr. Wildblood.

Australia (1855-1867, and NZ)

17 July 1855, Richard arrived (1) Melbourne, VIC, per White Star, from Liverpool, 20 April

"TO CAPTAIN BROWN . . . 17 July 1855", The White Star Journal (published weekly on board the clipper ship, White Star, during a passage from Liverpool, England, to Melbourne, Australia, with 600 emigrants, in the year 1855) (Melbourne, 21 July 1855), 34 

Dear Sir, The voyage is now coming to an end, and we, the saloon passengers, cannot think of dispersing without uniting in an expression of thanks to you for the untiring vigilance with which you have watched over our safety . . . We remain, dear Sir, Your sincere well wishers, . . . R. W. Kohler . . . Ship White Star of Liverpool, 17 July 1855 . . .

"THEATRE ROYAL", The Argus (30 July 1855), 5

. . . Mr. Thom makes an admirable conductor, and is efficiently supported by Herr Strebinger, as leader, - many of the performers, as Mr. Creed Royal (flute), M. Berry (tuba basso), Mr. Lundberg (clarionet), and Mr. Kohler (cornet a piston) have a European musical reputation . . .

"THEATRE ROYAL", The Argus (1 August 1855), 5

. . . The music was of the highest character, and the solos executed by Herr Kohler, in particular, were listened to with the deepest attention, and were loudly applauded. Those in the Alpine echoes were exquisitely performed, and no less successful were the airs so popular in Melbourne, "The old folks at home," and "Cheer, boys, cheer," and a duet on the cornet-a-piston . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: Bream Thom (violinist, leader); Frederick Strebinger (violinist); Creed Royal (flute player); "Berry" = Charles Berg (trombone, tuba player); John William Lundborg (clarinet player)

[Advertisement], The Argus (25 September 1855), 3

R. W. KOHLER, Professor and Teacher of the Concertina, Cornet-a-pistons, Flute, French Flageolet, and Guitar, will be happy to give Lessons on the above fashionable instruments. Ladies and gentlemen attended at their own residences. A large assortment of new and second-hand instruments, not to be equalled in the colony, on sale or for hire. Address Blue Bell Inn, Little Collins-street east; or Theatre Royal Orchestra.

"MUSICAL INSTRUCTION", The Argus (25 September 1855), 5

It is probable that Melbourne will soon be hotter supplied with instructors in the different departments of music than any city of the same population in the empire. We learn from an advertisement, that Mr. Kohler, whose cornet-a-piston has contributed so much to the acknowledged excellence of the orchestral performances at the Theatre Royal, intends to open classes for instruction in the use of that instrument and of the concertina. The concertina is becoming a very favorite instrument in England, and it may be expected that Mr. Kohler's instructions in its use will greatly increase its popularity in Melbourne.

"THEATRE ROYAL. MISS CATHERINE HAYES", The Argus (28 September 1855), 5

. . . Herr Kohler was loudly encored in his solo on the cornopean and most deservedly so. The piece he selected was the well known air by Jullien, "The Exile's Lament". It was played with the most exquisite taste and its rendering would have done credit to the great master of the instrument for whom it was written - Koenig . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: Catherine Hayes (soprano vocalist); Lewis Lavenu (musical director)

"SUMMARY FOR ENGLAND . . . THEATRES", The Age (27 November 1855), 4 

. . . It may interest musical readers in England to be informed that the orchestra of the Theatre Royal is worthy even of Covent Garden, and that we have our colonial Koenig and Richardson, in Kohler and Creed Royal . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: Herman Koenig (cornet player, active in Britain); Joseph Richardson (British flute player)

[Advertisement], The Argus (22 March 1856), 10

BENDIGO. - Mr. KOHLER is requested to communicate with Mr. Johnson, band master 40th Regiment.

ASSOCIATIONS: Henry Johnson (master of the Band of the 40th Regiment)

22 June 1856, John arrived (1) Melbourne, VIC, per Shalimar, from Liverpool, 23 March

"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE", The Argus (23 June 1856), 4

June 22 - Shalimar, R. M. ship, 1412 tons, John R. Brown, from Liverpool 23rd March. Passengers Cabin . . . Messrs. J. Johnson, J. W. Kohler, J. Collins; and two hundred and forty in the intermediate and steerage. G. F. Train and Co. agents.

"IMPORTS", The Argus (24 June 1856), 4

June 22. - Shalimar, from Liverpool . . . 1 piano, 1 case music, J. W. Kohler . . .

"OPERA", Empire (15 August 1857), 5 

Madame Bishop makes her last appearance in grand opera this evening, at the Royal Victoria Theatre. The bill she presents to the public is a very attractive one, and consists of Norma . . . after which Mr. Farquharson will sing his grand scena, "The Maniac," and the three brothers Kohler will play a trio on concertinas . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: Anna Bishop (soprano vocalist); Robert Farquharson (bass vocalist); the third of the so-called "brothers Kohler" was, correctly, John Otis Pierce

"PRINCESS'S THEATRE", The Argus (1 December 1857), 5

Last evening a grand vocal and instrumental concert, given by Madame Carandini, M. M. Laglaise and Coulon, Signor Maggiorotti and Messrs. Kohler and Lavenu, drew a large audience at this theatre. The programme contained some favorite pieces of each artiste, and the result was decidedly successful. The only ground of objection that could possibly be found was perhaps the extreme length of the entertainment - made still longer by the injudicious habit of encoring without discrimination almost every selection in the programme . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: Maria Carandini (soprano vocalist); Jean-Baptiste Laglaise (tenor vocalist); Emile Coulon (baritone vocalist); Signor Maggiorotti (vocalist)

[Advertisement], The Argus (10 April 1858), 8

HOCKIN'S NEW CONCERT HALL, Elizabeth-street.
Grandest Night of the Season.
So justly celebrated for their various performances on the Cornet, Flageolet, Concertina (treble and bass),
The great brilliancy of the tone, together with the extraordinary performances of the Brothers upon this instrument, are no less surprising than delightful to the hearers.
The Company will now include the names of:
Miss O. Hamilton, Madame A. Vitelli,
M. E. Coulon, Mr. Leeman,
Mr. Kohler, Sen. Mr. Kohler, Jun.,
And Mr. King.
Accompanyist, Mr. H. J. King. Manager, Mr. Vitelli.
Admission, 1s.; Reserved Seats, 2s.
Doors open at half-past 7; commence at 8.

ASSOCIATIONS: Octavia Hamilton (vocalist); Annie Vitelli (vocalist); Frederick Leeman (vocalist); Edward King (violinist); Henry John King senior (pianist)

"A BUSH PIANO", South Australian Weekly Chronicle (13 October 1860), 3 

Mr. Kohler has designed and caused to be manufactured a very curious musical instrument, to which he has given the name of a Bush Piano, and which he intends introducing to public notice on the occasion of his forthcoming concert. This curious instrument merely consists of some 20 small bars of wood, varying in length from about 5 inches to 14 or 15 inches. They are of of the same width and thickness - about an inch, or an inch and a quarter - and are played upon with two small sticks like the beaters of a harmonicon. The wood is, we believe, New Zealand pine, and under the rapid manipulation of Mr. Kohler emit a volume of musical sound perfectly astonishing, and which no one would ever imagine dwelt in a bundle of sticks. Of course it requires a Kohler to make these sticks discourse the excellent music that we have heard proceed from them, and we do not, therefore, wish to convey the idea that any bushman, by the aid of his pocket knife, may make a piano for himself which shall equally delight him as Kohler's novelty will doubtless, delight, not only bushmen from the country but amateurs in town.

For other references to Kohler's bush piano, see: (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

"MR. KOHLER As he may be expected to appear on an early day", Melbourne Punch (12 June 1862), 7 

"MR. RICHARD WILDBLOOD KOHLER", The Illustrated Melbourne Post (25 June 1862)

Mr. Richard Wildblood Kohler, the popular instrumental performer, who is the subject of the present sketch, is a native of Mauritius. He entered the British Army, in which his father held a high position, in 1835, as one of the 82nd Regiment, and soon distinguished himself a member of the regimental band, the versatility which he displayed as executant being really remarkable. In England, Mr. Kohler's talents were availed of by the late M. Jullien, whose celebrated band he joined. He was also private bandmaster to Lord Londesborough, and subsequently conducted with success the Promenade Concerts at Scarborough. On his arrival in Melbourne in 1856, Mr. Kohler's abilities speedily gained for him a leading position in the front rank of resident musicians, and the high opinion which, from the first, the Australian public formed of his executive qualifications has never undergone any modification of a prejudicial nature. Mr. Kohler is master of a variety of instruments, but, in our opinion, excels as a player of the cornet-a-piston. This instrument, which has been much decried of late as an ingredient of the orchestra, regains its good character in his hands. His tone is soft, pure, and solid, without brassiness, and his execution is as skilful as that of the best of his predecessors and contemporaries. The flageolet, concertina, and rock-harmonicon have no difficulties to oppose to the hand of this accomplished musician, while, as a producer of affects in dance music, he is without a rival. Mr. Kohler is at present engaged at the Theatre Royal, and for the last month his solo and obligato performances on "all kinds of music" have been one the chief attractions of the Promenade Concerts there.

ASSOCIATIONS: Louis Jullien (conductor); Albert Denison (lord Londesborough);

New Zealand (1862-67)

[Advertisement], Otago Daily Times [NZ] (22 October 1862), 3 

ROYAL PRINCESS' THEATRE . . . MORNING CONCERT, ON FRIDAY, 24th OCTOBER, 1862, On which occasion the following talented artistes will appear: Madame Carandini, Miss Emma Neville, Madame Whyte, Mr. W. Sherwin, Mr. J. Small, Mr. R. W. Kohler, Mr. Whyte, Mr. J. Kohler, Mons. Fleury, Mr. C. Cousins, Mr. T. Minton, Mr. Moss, Mr. George Loder, Conductor . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: Walter Sherwin (vocalist); Joe Small (vocalist); Emma Neville Loder (vocalist); Achille Fleury (violinist); George Loder (conductor)

[Advertisement], Press [NZ] (14 December 1863), 1 

PUBLIC NOTICE. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that in pursuance of the "Public House Ordinance, 1863," a Quarterly Meeting of Justices of the Peace will be held at the Resident Magistrates Courts at Christchurch and Akaroa on the 5th day of January next . . . for the purpose of considering applications for Public House Licensee for the Districts of Christchurch, Kaiapoi, and Akaroa . . . The following applications have been received: - . . . Kohler, Richard Wildblood / Hotel / House at Kohler's Gardens, Lincoln Road . . .

[Advertisement], The Press [NZ] (16 March 1864), 4

In the matter of the petition of Richard Wildblood Kohler, of the Lincoln-road, near Christchurch, in the Province of Canterbury, publican, a debtor not in custody . . .

[Advertisement], Press [NZ] (18 August 1864), 1 

RICHARD WILDBLOOD KOHLER'S ASSIGNMENT. NOTICE. ALL persons having any Claim against the Estate of Richard Wildblood Kohler are requested to call at my Office and sign the Deed of Assignment within fourteen days from this date, or they will be excluded all benefit thereunder. Dated this 17th day of August, 1864. (Signed) W. S. MOORHOUSE, Solicitor to the Trustees.

1 May 1866, Rickard Kohler departed Auckland for Sydney (with Melvyn and Gee's Christy's Minstrels)

"SKATING RINK", Press [NZ] (27 March 1867), 2 

Mr. John Kohler will reopen Coker's hall this evening as a skating rink. New skates have been provided; and a reduced price for admission, together with Mr. Kohler's well known abilities as a caterer for public amusement will no doubt ensure his success in his new undertaking.

[Advertisement], Press [NZ] (3 May 1867), 1 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 1867. MESSRS. OLLIVIER & CO. have received instructions from Mr. John Kohler (in consequence of his going into business in town) to SELL BY PUBLIC AUCTION, On the Premises, on the above date, The lease of all those splendid grounds known as KOHLER'S GARDENS, The Vauxhall of Canterbury, Having three and a-half years to run, with a right to renew for a further term of seven years, Together with the extensive Buildings thereon, consisting of - Dwelling-house, dancing saloon, publichouse, private bars, skittle alley, summer-houses, &c., &c., There is, also, the best swimming bath in the colonies, and a really firstclass maze, on the property. Also, the whole of THE HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. THE SALOON FURNITURE, Amongst which will be found splendid mirrors, chandeliers, pictures, statuettes, armour, Fiji clubs, &c. THE STATUARY - FOUNTAIN. Harness, horse and trap Tent, 50 x 20 Cucumber frame, bees Grass mower, 2 feet; One dozen pair surplus skates; English bows, arrows, and targets &c., &c., &c. Terms cash. Sale at noon. Luncheon provided.

"RESIDENT MAGISTRATES' COURTS", Press [NZ] (8 May 1867), 2 

MAY 7, 1867. ANNUAL LICENSING MEETING . . . The following general licenses were granted: - . . . John Wildblood Kohler, Lincoln road . . .

20 May 1867, John Kohler departed Dunedin, NZ, for Melbourne

Australia (7 May 1866 to 28 July 1867)

6 May 1866, Richard Kohler returned to Sydney from NZ (with Melvyn and Gee's Christy's Minstrels)

"SHIPPING", Empire (7 May 1866), 4 

May 6 . . . PRINCE ALFRED, steamer, 500 tons, Machen, from Auckland 1st instant . . . The Christy's Minstrels: Messrs. Melvyn, Kohler, Gee, Ellis, Eastwood, Bent, Peel . . .

[Advertisement], Empire (9 July 1866), 1 

[Advertisement], Ovens and Murray Advertiser (11 December 1866), 3 

27 May 1867, John Kohler arrived Melbourne, from Dunedin, NZ

"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. ARRIVED", The Argus (28 May 1867), 4 

MAY 27 . . . Otago, P.N.Z. and A.R.M. Company's s.s., 800 tons, J. W. O. Symons, R.N.R., commander, from Dunedin, via Bluff Harbour, 20th inst: Passengers saloon: - . . . Kohler . . .

"NEWS AND NOTES", The Ballarat Star (15 July 1867), 2 

A pictorial and musical entertainment will be opened this evening, in the hall of the Mechanics' Institute. Miss Geraldine Warden, and Mr. R. W. Kohler, Mr. G. J. Gee, and Mr. J. W. Kohler will take part in the concert, which precedes the exhibition of pictures. Mr W. Vazie Simons has charge of the last part of the entertainment.

ASSOCIATIONS: Geraldine Warden (soprano vocalist)

28 July 1867, R. W. and J. W. depart Port Phillip Bay, VIC, per Avoca, for Galle

"KING GEORGE'S SOUND SHIPPING. ARRIVED . . .", The South Australian Advertiser (9 August 1867), 2 

August 2, 6 p.m. - Avoca, steamer. Captain Farquhar, from Sydney, via Melbourne, en route to Galle . . . Passengers . . . R. W. Kohler, J. W. Kohler, Kohler [sic], J. Gee, J. Bryan . . . in the cabin.

"Theatrical Memoranda - English, Indian and American", Bell's Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle (19 October 1867), 2 

The Brothers Kohler and Mr. G. J. Gee, under the management of our big old acquaintance Mr. John Bryan, arrived in Colombo in August last, and gave their first entertainment on the evening of the 27th of the same month at the Garrison Library . . .

[News], Marysville Daily Appeal [California, USA] (27 July 1869), 3 

Mr. Richard W. Kohler, the accomplished musician, will soon leave for the Eastern States, under engagement to Madam Parepa Rosa's agent.

"METROPOLITAN THEATRE", Sacramento Daily Union (31 July 1869), 5 

The minstrels drew a crowded house last evening, and gave an entertainment in every way satisfactory. In addition to the favorites, Joe Murphy and Ben. Cotton, whose abilities are too well known to need favorable mention, Johnny Mack, the Ethiopian comedian; Armes Beaumont, the celebrated tenor, who possesses one of the pleasantest voices ever heard in Sacramento; J. W. Kohler, an inimitable performer upon the cornet and French born, and the numerous other members of the company, exerted themselves to please, and succeeded admirably.

ASSOCIATIONS: Armes Beaumont (tenor vocalist)

[News], The Australasian [Melbourne, VIC] (12 November 1870), 19 

Mr. William Birch, who will be remembered in connexion with a clever monological entertainment which he gave at the Polytechnic Hall, in this city, some years ago, writes to us from Yokohama, Japan, that he contemplates returning to Melbourne at an early date, accompanied by Richard Kohler, who will also be well remembered as a clever and versatile instrumentalist. Since their departure from Australia Messrs. Birch and Kohler have visited California, China, and India, and describe their adventures in connexion with a panorama, illustrative of their travels.

"NEWS AND NOTES", The Ballarat Star (28 June 1875), 2 

The San Francisco Figaro thus speaks of a gentleman who appeared in Ballarat some years ago, and who is about to visit the place again: -

"Richard Kohler, who in addition to being the finest cornet player on the Pacific Coast, is a universal musical genius, spent a huge portion of the year 1874 in forming and bringing to perfection a musical instrument which he has named "The Water Flute." It is an improvement on the "Tumbleronicon" and under the manipulation of Mr. Kohler, discourses music as superior to that instrument as the peal of the organ is to the tum-tum of the banjo. Kohler plays with soul and feeling, he is a thorough musician, loves his art and delights in finding for it new modes of expression. He gave his first exhibition on the "Water Flute" on Wednesday night, at the Christmas New Year's High-Jinks of the Bohemian Club, of which he is an honored member. His audience were delighted with the enrapturing music he drew from the simply constructed instrument, and encored the performance again and again. The "musical glasses" are over a hundred years old, but Kohler's Water Flute is to the original what the grand pianoforte of the present day is to the spinnet or harpsichord of our grandfathers' days. We hope 'ere long the general public will be afforded an opportunity of listening to this sweet music. Mr. Kohler will shortly visit the colonies with a company of star artistes under the management of Mr. John Bryan."

Australia (1878-1881)

13 April 1878, Melbourne, R. W. arrived with the United States Minstrels from NZ

"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE . . . ARRIVED, APRIL 13", The Argus (15 April 1878), 4 

Arawata, s.s., 1,100 tons Thomas Underwood, from New Zealand 9th Inst Passengers - saloon . . . From Dunedin . . . Mr. and Mrs. Rockefeller, Mr. and Mrs. Brahim, Messrs. Hudson, Holly, Kohler, Conduit, Hawkins, J. Thompson, Lingard, Emery, H. Thompson (United States Minstrels).

[Advertisement], The Lorgnette (8 October 1878), 3 

New, Novel and Wonderful Musical Instruments for Ladies and Gentlemen . . . OCARINA . . . Instruments and Instructions can be had of MR. R. W. KOHLER, St. George's Hall. Personal or Written Applications will receive prompt attention.

18 March 1879, Sydney, NSW, J. W. arrived from Honolulu

"SHIPPING", Australian Town and Country Journal (22 March 1879), 36 

ARRIVALS . . . March 18 . . . City of New York, steamer, 300 tons . . . From Honolulu: Samuel Tickell, J. W. Kohler . . .

"NEWS OF THE DAY", The Sydney Morning Herald (21 May 1879),5 

A NUMBER of gentlemen met at 104, Pitt-street, yesterday afternoon, at the invitation of the brothers Kohler, the celebrated instrumentalists, to witness some experiments with a phonograph which the Messrs. Kohler have exhibited with great success in Melbourne, and which, they propose introducing to the Sydney public to-morrow night, in conjunction with their musical entertainment and Woodroffe's glass-blowing and scientific wonders. The phonograph was purchased from Mr. Edison, of New York, the inventor of the instrument, and is one of the largest and best. The trial made with it yesterday afternoon was very satisfactory, and served to convince those who witnessed it of the wonderful character, and yet simplicity, of the invention. The music of the tunes sung into it and played into it by a cornet were reproduced with marvellous exactness, the only difference being that the sounds were not so loud . . .

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (19 June 1879), 2

"SCHOOL OF ARTS", The Sydney Morning Herald (21 June 1879), 5 

The Glassblowers' entertainment last night was for the benefit of Mr. R. W. Kohler, the comet player, whose performances have been so much enjoyed. There was a very large attendance on the occasion. The principal feature in the evening's programme was a cornet quartette, given by Messrs. R. W. and J. W. Kohler and Messrs. Conduit and Thompson - the latter the gentleman who won the prize at the recent cornet contest. The piece was by Artot; and was so well done that the audience insisted on an encore, which the performers honoured by repeating a part of the piece.

"SYDNEY INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION", The Sydney Morning Herald (30 September 1879), 5

. . . In the afternoon, the fourth orchestral and vocal concert was given, Signoi Giorza directing . . . There were two novelties in these orchestral selections. One was the performance of one of Hartry's [? Artot's] quartettes by four cornet-players, Messrs. R. Kohler, W. Thompson, O. Conduit, and J. Kohler. The quartette, though rather long, was given with great delicacy of finish, and Mr. R. Kohler, who led, did so very judiciously . . .

"Burglaries, Stealing from Premises, &c.", New South Wales Police Gazette (19 November 1879). 426 

Sydney. - Stolen on the night of the 15th instant, from the music room, at the Victoria Theatre, the property of Richard W. Kohler, a black ebony flageolet, with ivory mouthpiece, six keys, and silver mounted; value, £8. Identifiable.

[Advertisement], South Australian Register (1 April 1881), 1


"THE HYPERION OPERA COMPANY", Victorian Express [Geraldton, WA] (4 May 1881), 3 

The troupe have not been idle during the past week. Their series of four nights' entertainment in Geraldton was brought to a close on Thursday evening last . . . Mr. Kohler continues to astonish and delight. He seems capable of knocking a tune out of anything. The most unlikely sources are laid under contribution. His execution with the French flageolet is simply unrivalled. The porcelain ocarina, in his hands, becomes an instrument of high order, and discourses as eloquently as a concert flute. The rock harmonicon, which, to the ordinary eye, is but a row of dingy looking metal bars, under his skilful fingers gives out tones correct in pitch and timbre, and the most complicated passages, and difficult runs and arpeggios are performed with an accuracy and agility that defy description. On Thursday evening, Mr. Kohler played several pathetic airs in a most piecing manner on the "tumbleronicon," an instrument, as its name indicates, composed of a series of tumblers or goblets . . .

[Advertisement], The West Australian (17 May 1881), 3

June 1881, Melbourne, R. W. sailed for NZ with the Hyperion Opera Company

"PASSENGERS. INWARDS", Otago Witness [NZ] (25 June 1881), 14 

Albion, s.s., 640 tons, Webster, from Melbourne, via the Bluff. J Mills, agent. Passengers - Mesdames Shepherd, Gully, Misses Wilkinson, Shepherd, Lang, Messrs Barry O'Neill, Kohler, P. McFarlane, Newman, McIntyre . . .

[Advertisement], Daily Alta California (6 November 1882), 4 

CHARTER OAK HALL, MARKET STREET. Dick Kohler's Waxworks Exhibition AND PROMENADE CONCERTS, Commencing Saturday next, November 4th. 150 LIFE-SIZED FIGURES OF CELEBRITIES 150; Including Garfiled Gulteau, Parnell, Davitt, Jesse and Frank James and the Australian Bushrangers, the Kelley Gang [sic, Kelly Gang], etc., etc. The first, largest, and the only collection ever seen in America. - Admission, 23 cents. Children, 15 cents. Open dally from 10 A. M. to 10 P. M. Grand Concert Sundays at 2 and 8 o'clock.

"Burglaries, stealing from Premises, &c.", New South Wales Police Gazette and Weekly Record of Crime (27 December 1882), 505 

S.S. "Zealandia." - Stolen, during the past month, from on board the steam-ship "Zealandia," on her passage from Honolula to San Francisco, the property of Mr. John W. Kohler, care of David Paton, Esq., Montgomery-street, San Fracisco, - A gold open-face stop-watch, "Jack Kohler" scratched lightly on inside case, slight indentation . . .

[News], Russian River Flag [California, USA] (12 April 1883), 3 

Kohler brothers hare a good reputation, and will exhibit wax works and play their magnificent music, at the theater to-night.

[News], Sacramento Daily Union [California, USA] (29 May 1883), 3 

There will be but two more performances in this city by the Kohler concert company who have been at Turner Hall for the past four weeks. To-morrow evening there will be a benefit to R. W. Kohler.

"FIGARO", The Lorgnette (10 November 1884), 4 

A private letter lately received, states that Mr. Richard Kohler, the well-known and popular musician, has been placed in a private lunatic asylum in San Francisco as an "incurable." Years ago, no orchestra in Melbourne was" complete without the assistance of genial "Dick Kohler."

26 November 1888, death of Richard Wildblood Kohler, Oakland, California

"DEATHS IN THE PROFESSION", New York Clipper [USA] (5 January 1889), 691 

RICHARD KOHLER, or as he was familiarly known to the profession, Dick Kohler, died at Oakland, Cal., Nov. 26, of general decline. He had been an invalid for a long time, and passed away so quietly that little mention was made of the fact. Mr. Kohler was for a long time connected with the California Theatre orchestra as cornet player, and later with Emerson's Minstrels. He subsequently went to Australia, where he purchased a large number of wax figures, among which were several very valuable ones, with which he returned to California and gave exhibitions with little success, until his falling health compelled his absolute retirement. He was for a long time prominently identified with music.

"DEATH OF RICHARD KOHLER", The Lorgnette (23 February 1889), 5 

News has arrived from San Francisco of the death of "Dick" Kohler, which took place at his residence, Oaklands, in November last. He had been an invalid for some years past from general decline, and passed away so quietly that little mention has been made of the fact. Mr. Kohler visited Australia upon two different occasions, and was for some time connected with the U.S. Minstrels as a solo cornet player and general instrumentalist. On leaving Australia on the last occasion he collected a large number of wax figures and a model of the Strasburg Clock, with which he opened a museum in San Francisco, until his health gave way, when he left the management of the museum in the hands of his brother, who died some time ago. "Dick" left many friends in Australia, who will regret to learn of his death.

Musical works

The cricketer's polka (1852)

The cricketer's polka, introducing airs from Masaniello, most respectfully dedicated to the cricketers of England, by R. W. Kohler, Member of the Scarborough Cricket Club (London: Ewer & Co, London, [1852])

[Advertisement], The musical times (1 January 1853), 116 

Ewer & Co's. Newest Publications . . .
R. W. KOHLER. The Cricketer's Polka, Pianoforte with Cornet . . . 3[s] 0[d] . . .

[Sale catalogue, cricketers', football, sporting memorabilia], Knights, 4-5 July 2015, Leicester, England, page 21

[Lot] 388. "The Cricketer's Polka Introducing Airs from Masaniello. Most Respectively Dedicated to the Cricketers of England". R. W. Kohler, "Member of the Scarborough Cricket Club". Published pre-1856 by Ewer & Co, London. Music score containing eight pages of music and lyrics with pictorial front cover, featuring a charming coloured engraving of a village cricket scene. Signed in ink to front cover by the composer, Kohler. Owner's name annotated in ink to front cover. Embossed stamp "R. W. Koehler, Pianoforte and Music Dealer, Scarborough" . . . [estimate] £150/250


Brown 1914

Col. T. Allston Brown, "EARLY HISTORY OF NEGRO MINSTRELSY . . .", New York Clipper (21 March 1914), 2 

United States Minstrels: was a party organized in Melbourne, Australia, after Billy Emerson had closed his engagement there in June 1874. G. W. Rockefeller, Charles Holly, Buckley, Tommy Hudson, Campbell and West appeared at Apollo Hall, Melbourne, and played to very good business. In July they formed a coalition with Louis Braham, T. Rainford, and Nick Fullade [La Feuillade] and opened at the Opera House in that city. In July, 1875, they occupied the School of Arts in that city, after which they made a tour of the interior. Returning to Apollo Hall, they attracted crowded houses. They then moved to St. George's Hall in that city and opened April 9, 1877, with William Horace Bent and Richard W. Kohler added to the company. They again appeared at the School of Arts, where they closed in August, 1877, and visited Brisbane. They afterwards went on a tour, appearing in Castlemaine in April, 1878. In November, 1878, they occupied St. George's Hall, Melbourne. E. Amery, basso; Browning, baritone; Walter Hawkins, male soprano; Charles Holly, jig; Brown and Newlands, end men; Owen Conduit, Johnny Thompson, G. W. Rockefeller, Tommy Hudson, Louis Braham, and R. W. (Dick) Kohler comprised the company. Washington Norton left the company a short time previous. The business of this company has been very large in Australia.

ASSOCIATIONS: Thomas Henry Rainford (vocalist); Nicholas La Feuillade (violinist)

CCMD 2004

Currency companion to music and dance in Australia, 39, 363, 449

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2020