Bernhard Bernhard Dueck: musician and farmer; born in Friedensfeld, South Russia on 28 November 1869 to Bernhard Dueck (16 August 1837, Muntau, Molotschna, South Russia - 28 October 1896, Friedensfeld, South Russia) and Agatha (Thielemann) Dueck (1837, Neukirch, Molotschna, South Russia – 24 January 1895, Friedensfeld, South Russia). On 3 May 1892, Bernhard married Margaretha Wiebe (2 October 1872, Russia – 28 February 1937) and settled in Friedensfeld. The couple had eight children: Bernhard, Katharina, Jacob, Johann, Greta, Abram, Lena, and Gerhard. Bernhard died on 12 January 1935 in Alma Ata, Russia.
Growing up in a musical family in Friedensfeld, Bernhard found encouragement in his love for music. He and his brother studied in Riga, Latvia, and participated extensively in church services. In 1892, he married Margaretha Wiebe of the Kuban Settlement and began to farm in Friedensfeld. Bernhard was elected director of the Friedensfeld church choir, and in 1894, he participated in a choral conductors’ workshop in Zyrardow, Poland. Wherever he moved, Bernhard would always become the choir conductor of the local church, and he organized several choral conductors’ workshops for people from different towns and villages.
Many people in Friedensfeld appreciated Dueck’s work as a conductor, and on 27 February 1902, the church held a celebration of the ten years he had served there. Bernhard continued to conduct choirs even when the family moved away from Friedensfeld the next year.
Bernhard was also a composer. Together with his friend, Johann Loewen, he composed a song, Mennolied, to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of the beginning of Anabaptism. The two composers hoped to attend the anniversary celebrations in Switzerland in 1925 but were unable to be there due to travel restrictions. The two musicians also collaborated in writing other musical pieces, including a Low German song for an elderly grandmother who could not speak High German.
Because of his poor health, Dueck gave up farming in 1902. The next year, the family moved to Bahndorf in the Memrik Settlement, where Bernhard once again directed the church choir. He and several of his neighbours built and ran a small mill in the village. When the Duecks moved to Poltava, Bernhard purchased a four-storey steel mill, which provided his income for many years. Even after the Communists confiscated the mill in 1922, Bernhard continued on as manager until he was released from the position in 1926.
Without a job, Bernhard returned to farming in Putschkovo, near Omsk in Siberia. When Communist efforts to collectivize all farms in the region reached Siberia, Bernhard was imprisoned in 1931 as a landowner. Despite extra food his daughter Greta brought him, his health and his interest in life deteriorated. By the time he was released in 1932, he had even lost his enthusiasm for music. He joined his family in south Russia before he and his wife moved to be with their youngest son in Alma Ata. He died there on 12 January 1935, two years before his wife, Margaretha.
Bernhard Bernhard Dueck left an amazing musical legacy for future generations. His devotion to enriching other people’s lives through music was exemplary. Although the hardships in his life dimmed his enthusiasm, he made great contributions to the life of the church and to the people around him.
Berg, Wesley. From Russia With Music. Winnipeg: Hyperion Press Limited, 1985: 21, 23, 24, 27, 28.
Braun, D. D. “Ein Jubiläums=Sängerfest,” Zionsbote (16 April 1902): 1, 2.
Challier, A. “Dirigentenkurs.” Sängergrus,( March 1894): 22.
Dueck, Bernhard. “Die Erste Reise eines Dirigenten aus Südrussland nach Polen.” Sängergruss (May 1894): 37, 38.
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Huebert, Helmut T. Events and people: events in Russian Mennonite history and the people that made them happen. Winnipeg: Springfield Publishers, 1999.
Huebert, Helmut T. Mennonite Historical Atlas. Winnipeg: Springfield Publishers, 2003: 18, 118.
Loewen, Johann. “Eine Dirigenten=Versammlung in Friedensfeld.” Zionsbote (27 February 1895): 3; (6 March 1895): 3.
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Redekopp, Alfred H. Jacob Thielmann and Helena Kroeker. Winnipeg: Published by A. H. Redekopp, 1987: 19-24.
|Date Published||February 2009|
 Cite This Article
Huebert, Susan. "Dueck, Bernhard B. (1869-1935)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2009. Web. 2 Apr 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Dueck,_Bernhard_B._(1869-1935)&oldid=80317.
Huebert, Susan. (February 2009). Dueck, Bernhard B. (1869-1935). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2 April 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Dueck,_Bernhard_B._(1869-1935)&oldid=80317.
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