Fonds BC673 - Blanche Gerstman Collection

Reference code



Blanche Gerstman Collection


  • 1948-1971 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

ca.160 items

Name of creator


Biographical history

Blanche Gerstman (1910-1973) was a composer, double bass player, pianist, accompanist and lecturer. Born in Cape Town, she matriculated at the Good Hope Seminary School in Cape Town and completed her B.Mus. degree at the South African College of Music. She started music lessons at the age of 12, first studying harmony under C.V.N.G. Hely-Hutchinson, and at the College of Music she studied composition under Prof W H Bell and was taught piano by Colin Taylor. Her first significant composition was Hellas, which was performed in 1928, when she was 18 years of age. She worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation as official pianist, accompanist and compiler for about 10 years before joining the staff of the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town as a lecturer in harmony and counterpoint. She regularly played the double base with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra. She left the University in 1950 to become the principal double bass player with the orchestra, but after winning a Performing Rights Society Scholarship the same year, she spent a year at the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying musical composition. Returning to Cape Town in 1951, she continued as principal double bass player until 1961, when she was appointed lecturer in harmony and counterpoint at the University of Pretoria, where she remained until she joined the Durban Civic Orchestra in 1963, before returning to Cape Town and the South African College of Music the following year. In 1968, she again took up her position as double bass player in the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra. She died in Cape Town on 11 August 1973.

Archival history

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Scope and content

Letters from people and organizations concerning her compositions and arrangements (c.1948-1971), programmes, scrap books, notes, etc.


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No restrictions apply

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Language of material

  • English

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  • English



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