Rudolf Meincke – Fiddler on the Move

Rudolf Meincke – Fiddler on the Move

For the majority of the population in the 1880s until the 1930s or later, particularly in the rural environs, getting away for either holidays or seaside weekends was unheard of.

Most farmers were born, lived and died in their region, and more often than not on the same farm property – be it the Fassifern, Lockyer, Downs or Burnett. The exception to the rule was sometimes the short honeymoon, which might involve a few days away from the farm in Toowoomba, or even the coast. Many people west of Ipswich never got to see the ocean or experience salt air until their later years – and some never at all.

However in this amazing thing we call life there are exceptions to every rule! Rudolf Meincke was an amazing musician and his story is remarkable.

Rudolf Meincke is still remembered as the talented violinist who taught many young Queenslanders the violin in the German farming communities throughout southern Queensland. At a young age he composed the Menuet in B Flat, which was published in Brisbane in 1923. In his retirement he established a large musical instrument museum in one of the grandest colonial houses in Maryborough.

As a young man growing up in northern Germany in the late 1890s he showed extreme talent on his chosen instrument, the violin. His father was a professional musician and young Rudolf received a well-rounded education. At the age of 16 he could speak six languages! By that age he was a prodigy on his chosen instrument and his father became very jealous of his extreme abilities. Family life became very difficult so he needed to move on.

However, in those days many young men wanted to explore the world so he decided to go to sea as a sailor and eventually ended up in Brisbane. His few years at sea were hard ones – young Rudolf worked hard but many sailors were very rough types of men and bullying was widespread.

He ‘jumped ship’ in Brisbane in 1911 and in no time at all he caught the train and was then working in the Rosewood area and later travelled and lived in many areas where the German population settled – the Lockyer, Darling Downs and the Burnett, For years Rudolf moved throughout the countryside – both working and playing. Places of residence included Rosewood, Roadvale, Laidley, Toowoomba, Dorrigo (NSW), Taree (NSW), Grafton (NSW), Oakey, Kingaroy, Mt Walker, Minden, Ipswich, Riverview, Redcliffe, Caboolture and in the 1970s made his final shift. 

He eventually decided to retire in Maryborough – where he established an extensive musical museum, which was a tourist attraction for many years. His son Athol still resides in Maryborough and he has inherited the mechanical ‘side’.

Rudolf in his younger years crafted a number of beautiful violins. In his scrub work on the Dorrigo he came across a tree called Red Bean, which he used for fiddle backs and also North Queensland maple for the tops.

He taught many young folk in the rural areas the instrument and with his wife (on piano) and himself on violin played the most beautiful music ranging from the classics to old-time and popular. Recordings were made of Rudolf and are now highly valued and appreciated. Make sure you listen to a tune played by Rudolf Meincke on this website!

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