Lemmer, Petrus

LEMMER, Petrus Johannes 


b. Hartbeesfontein, 3 May, 1896


South African composer. Lemmer showed an affinity for music at an early age. He was taught the piano by his sister, and later established a children’s choir and a small band that he directed himself. He received piano and harmony lessons at the local convent. Not until 1917 did he receive systematic advanced piano, harmony and organ lessons, namely from P. K. de Villiers at the Polytechnical College in Bloemfontein. Lemmer obtained his teacher’s licentiate in piano in 1918. He continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he was awarded the LRAM and ARAM. Organ and singing were also included in his curriculum and for a short while he acted as an assistant professor in singing at the Academy. In 1923, Lemmer returned to South Africa to take up an appointment as organist in Malmesbury, where he founded his own music school and directed his own amateur Swartland Brass Band (1924-1930). In 1930, he accepted a lectureship in singing at the Normal College in Bloemfontein, the same institution at which he had formerly been a pupil. He remained a significant force in the music life of that town for the next thirty years. 


In addition to his work as choral and orchestral conductor in Bloemfontein, Lemmer was one of the leading figures on the national music education scene. In 1933, he was recommended by the University of South Africa (UNISA) as the first South African representative on the panel of British examiners who acted in this country for the Royal Schools of Music. He remained an examiner of practical music for the University of South Africa for the next 30 years. His work was acknowledged by the Royal Academy of Music, which awarded him an Honorary ARAM in 1934, and by the South African Academy for Science and Arts, which elected him a member in 1950. His long service to the music examinations of UNISA was commemorated in 1978 when one of that institution’s major bursaries was renamed the ‘P. J. Lemmer Bursary for Overseas Study’ (for piano performance). 





1. Choral 

Looft den Heer, for choir, soprano, piano or organ (1923) 


Sluimerlied, for four voices; also for three-part ladies’ choir (1929) 


Voortrekkerkoor, for four voices (1937) 


Hefsblomme, choral compositions for schools and universities (1970): 


Carillon (1966) 

Gebed van Franciskus van Assisi 

Rooi disa (1968) 


Soen haar (1968) 

Jan Pierewiet (1968) 

Vat jou goed en trek Ferreira (1966 

My siel is siek van heimwee, for descant voice, choir, violin obbligato and piano (1977) 


Sirkusmusiek, a choral cycle with trumpet, double bass, drum and piano (1977): 


Fanfare no. 1 

Fanfare no. 2 



Danse grazioso 

The equestrians 


Vlammende herinnering, for choir and piano (1971) 


Verwelkomingslied, for SATB and piano 


Want waar u gaan, sal ek gaan, for four voices and organ (no date)


2. Part Songs 

Die nag, for two voices (1937) 


Skemeraand, for soprano, mezzo soprano and contralto, without accompaniment (1939) 


Motte, for soprano and contralto (1942) 


Bergrivier, for two voices (1947) 


Reisang, 5-part incidental music for the Bloemfontein Centenary Festival (1946) 


The tinkling of the bells, for two voices and piano (1947) 


Frolic, unison song (1961) 


Pacific coast (Ballad for the sea), for three voices (1962) 


Boerperdlied, for make voice quartet (1977) 


Honour, riches, marriage, blessing, for three voices (no date) 


3. Songs 

Trek vorentoe – trek boontoe, Voortrekker song (1929) 


Hou koers, a national song (1934) 


Kokkewiet, song for soprano (1938) 


Prinses van verre, song for tenor (1935) 


Jukskeilied, a folk song (1939) 


Ons eie, 10 songs for the tiny tots (1941): 



Die lentegees 







Dit kom daarvan 


Rots by die see, song for baritone (1947) 


Karroovlakte, song for soprano (1949) 


Kom in my tuin, wedding song for tenor (1950) 


Ek is die seëlring, wedding song for mezzo soprano (1950) 


Afrikaans songs in Goue gerf (1970): Sproetenooi; Die hinke-pinkeman; Rooi disa 


Onderonsies, 6 songs for little people (1974) 


Vyf nuwe kuns en volksliedere (1974) 


Waar die landsdienskampe staan (no date) 


Die Here is my Herder, for voice and piano (no date) 


Normaalkollegelied, Bloemfontien (1979) 


School songs for Central Primary School and Willem Postma School, Bleomfontein; Bethulie High School; Brandfort High School; Volkskool Voorwaarts, Kroonstad; Odendaalsrust High School; Parys High School; Border High School – East London; Upington High School; Cradock High School; Postmasburg High School; Villiers High School; Lichtenburg High School. 


Festival song for the East London Schools (no date)



1. Orchestral 

Sehnsucht, symphonic poem (1936) 


Hou koers, orchestrated for military band (1938)


2. Chamber music 

Organ fugue in G (Bach) arranged for 2 pianos (1928) 


A phantasy, for flute and piano (1967) 


Romance in D, for clarinet and piano (no date)


3. Piano 

Grand marche d’orchestre (no date) 


Etude (concert study) in F (1937) 


Spuitfonteine, a phantasy for piano (1968) 


A prayer, improvisation on a theme from the Enigma variations (Elgar) (1969) 


Theme and variations: Drink to me only (1972) 


Stemminglied, a nocturne (1978) 


Variations on a well-known theme (no date):







4. Organ

Toccata (1922) 


Four organ works (no details)

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