Fonds BC1481 - Gunther Pulvermacher Papers (Irmgard Meta Pulvermacher Papers)

Reference code



Gunther Pulvermacher Papers (Irmgard Meta Pulvermacher Papers)


  • 1941-1987 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

8 archival boxes

Name of creator


Biographical history

Gunter Heinrich Pulvermacher was born in Breslau on 22 March 1908. He received musical instruction from a young age, and was playing piano and singing in choirs from the age of five. He went on to study ethnomusicology at the University of Breslau, specializing in Asian music; he also studied philosophy and history of art. At the Breslau Opera he assisted with the training of vocalists and ballet dancers. In 1936 he married Ingrid Schwenk, and shortly thereafter, due to the increasingly negative impact of Nazism, the couple left Germany for South Africa. They settled in Cape Town, and Gunter found employment at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) as a programme coordinator, presenter, and accompanist, until a hand injury prevented him from fulfilling this last-mentioned role. In 1945 he became a part-time lecturer at the University of Cape Town, and was appointed permanently in 1952. In 1960 he was promoted to senior lecturer. From 1966 until his retirement in 1973 he served with distinction as professor of music and director of the South African College of Music, as well as dean of the faculty following the death of Eric Chisholm in 1965. He revolutionized the curriculum, and introduced inter alia a degree course in ethnomusicology, a diploma course in music librarianship, and a post-graduate course in music therapy (he was appointed honorary president of the Society of Music Therapy). He was particularly interested in the comparative study of music and other art forms. He died on 6 March 1987. He was married to Irmgard Meta Pulvermacher, from whose estate these papers were donated.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by estate of Irmgard Pulvermacher

Scope and content

The papers in this collection consist of a significant number of transcripts of musical radio programmes presented or arranged by Gunter Pulvermacher for the SABC. It also contains a sizeable selection of his writings – mostly ms notes encompassing articles, speeches, notes for lectures and other presentations, and two book-length manuscripts. There are also several files of exam papers. The collection is formally titled the Irmgard Meta Pulvermacher Papers.


System of arrangement

Conditions governing access

No restrictions apply

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Language of material

  • English

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  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by André Landman, January 2012

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