|Ludwig Bonvin was born in Sierre, Switzerland on February 17, 1850. As a young child, Bonvin took piano lessons for two years but eventually stopped - not because he was disinterested but because his music teacher failed to keep many of his appointments. These were his only music lessons. |
As Bonvin grew older and it came time for him to choose a career, he decided to enter medicine, a field he was not particularly interested in but was the profession of his father. One year into his studies, he became sick and was removed to the mountains of Switzerland for recovery. There, while walking among the woods, he was inspired to write his first composition, "Das Voeglein", "The Little Bird".
After Bonvin's recovery, he decided to study law. This he did for two years until his religious calling drew him to Exaten, Holland where he began his novitiate with the German Jesuits. In the third year of his religious life, Bonvin was appointed organist and choirmaster. It was at this time that Bonvin decided to study music theory, of which he was only able to do ten minutes every day due to the rigorous demands of the novitiate. After completing his philosophical studies in Holland, Bonvin continued his theological studies in England and was received into the priesthood on August 30, 1885. During this time, he continued writing his compositions and was in charge of the community choir and children of the parish school.
Sent by his superiors to America, Fr. Bonvin arrived in New York on July 31, 1887. From 1887 to 1905, he directed the Canisius College choir, from 1888 to 1907 the Canisius College Orchestra, and from 1922 to 1929 the S.H.A. Orchestra at Sacred Heart Academy.
In 1891, after attending a symphony orchestra concert, Fr. Bonvin decided that he, too, could write orchestration and composed his first orchestral work entitled "In Gehobener Stimmung" (Elevation). So impressed was the conductor with this piece that he played it at his next concert. The composition was a success. A pupil of Lizst, who happened to be present, wrote to him immediately after the concert in an enthusiastic letter of congratulation.
Besides his compositions, Fr. Bonvin contributed extensively to the literature of his music. His articles and essays were published in the periodicals of several European languages and in America.
After a long and fruitful life, Fr. Bonvin died on February 18, 1939 at the age of eighty-nine.
source:Kathy Liebner, April 2005.