Below is a discography for Annie Visser sourced from Alan Kelly's research on the history of the Gramophone Company and the South African Music Encyclopedia (SAME). The first list shows the chronological order of the recordings based on matrix numbers. The second list shows the original single-sided records issued on the Gramophone Concert Record (GCR) label in the order they were issued, based on their GC coupling numbers. The third list shows the records that were reissued on the double-sided Zonophone Twin label in 1912, based on their 4000 series coupling numbers.
Note that at least two records that were first issued in the GCR series were not reissued in the Zonophone series. Interestingly these were Vereeniga Africka! (United Africa!) (GC 3772) from 1908 and Overtuiging (Conviction) (GC 3854) from 1910. These listings were both sourced from the SAME but did not include matrix numbers, however I have placed them into the discography based on their GCR coupling numbers. One can only speculate over the reasons for the omission but given the potential content (alas I have not heard these recordings) I wonder if they may have been suppressed. It is my understanding that records issued on the GCR label were generally marketed in the UK whereas the Zonophone 4000 series was specifically developed for the South African market. Given the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 perhaps the UK-based company did not want to further incite any tensions between Afrikaners and English.
Also I was unable to locate the matrix number for the track Overtuiging (GC 3854) but given that all the tracks were generally issued in reverse order from that in which they were recorded, I am guessing that it comes, significantly, after die Zuid Afrikaans Volkslied which just happened to be recorded on the day that the Union of South Africa was formed on May 31st, 1910. Perhaps the recording was made live at an event. Another clue that Overtuiging might have been recorded with the anthem is that the SAME lists the track with "orchestral accompaniment", an organisational effort that the occasion of the formation of the Union and a recording of the anthem might have induced. All other tracks are simply listed as piano or organ accompaniment in Alan Kelly's research. It is not clear which Zuid-Afrikaans Volklied this might be as Die Stem van Suid-Afrika, the future South African National Anthem, would only be written in 1918.
1) The chronological order of the recordings based on matrix numbers sourced from Alan Kelly's research:
Annie Visser (soprano) (Sung in the Taal), Leo Weinthal on piano, recorded 1908
8718e Das Volkslied von Transvaal (Transvaal Anthem) (GC 3771)
matrix Vereeniga Africka! (GC 3772)
Annie Visser (soprano), recorded May 24th, 1910
11705e Ou tante Koos (GC 3858)
11706e Mamma 'k wil 'n man he (GC 3857)
11707e De Afrikaanse Pop (GC 3856)
Annie Visser (soprano), recorded May 31st, 1910
11729e Zuid Afrikaans Volkslied (South African Anthem) (GC 3855)
matrix Overtuiging (with orchestral accompaniment) (GC 3854)
Annie Visser (soprano), recorded June 9th, 1910
11770e Gezang 62 - Heilige Jesus (Hymn 62 - Holy Jesus) (GC 3853)
11771e Psalm 68 - De Heer zal opstaan tot den strijd (GC 3852)
11772e Gezang 83 - Heer waar dan heen (Hymn 83) (GC 3851)
11773e Gezang 96 - Halleluja eeuwig dank en eere (Hymn 96) (GC 3850)
11774e Gezang 21 - Diepe wijsheid zijn Uw paden (Hymn 21) (GC 3849)
11775e Gezang 68 - Zalig zalig niets te wezen (Hymn 68) (GC 3848)
11776e De Veltpartijdji (GC 3847)
11777e Gertji (GC 3846)
11778e Afrikaans Bruiloftslied (GC 3845)
11779e Grietje (GC 3844)
11780e Afrikaans Volkslied (Afrikaner Anthem) (GC 3843)
Annie Visser (soprano), recorded September 30th, 1910
12409e Gezang 58, Verzen 7 en 9 - Ruwe stormen mogen woeden
(Hymn 58, verses 7 and 9) (GC 3869)
12411e Psalm 25, Verzen 1 en 2 - 'k Hefmijn ziel, O God der Goden
(Psalm 25, verses 1 and 2) (GC 3871)
12412e Psalm 89, Verzen 7 en 8 - Hoe zalig is het volk
(Psalm 89, verses 7 and 8) (GC 3872)
12413e Gezang 180, Verzen 1 en 3 - 'k will U, O God der Goden
(Hymn 180, verses 1 and 3) (GC 3870)
2) The original single-sided records issued on the Gramophone Concert Record (GCR) label in the order they were issued:
Annie Visser (soprano) (Sung in the Taal) with Leo Weinthal on piano, issued in 1908
GC 3771 Das Volkslied von Transvaal (Transvaal National Anthem)
(later re-titled as the "Transvaalsche Volkslied")
GC 3772 Vereeniga Africka!
Annie Visser (soprano), issued in or after June 1910
GC 3843 Afrikaans Volkslied (Afrikaner Anthem)
GC 3844 Grietje
GC 3845 Afrikaans Bruiloftslied
GC 3846 Gertji
GC 3847 De Veltpartijdji
GC 3848 Gezang 68 - Zalig zalig niets te wezen
GC 3849 Gezang 21 - Diepe wijsheid zijn Uw paden
GC 3850 Gezang 96 - Halleluja eeuwig dank en eere
GC 3851 Gezang 83 - Heer waar dan heen
GC 3852 Psalm 68 - De Heer zal opstaan tot den strijd
GC 3853 Gezang 62 - Heilige Jesus
GC 3854 Overtuiging (with orchestral accompaniment)
GC 3855 Zuid Afrikaans Volkslied (South African Anthem)
GC 3856 De Afrikaanse Pop
GC 3857 Mamma 'k wil 'n man he
GC 3858 Ou tante Koos
Annie Visser (soprano), issued in or after October 1910
GC 3869 Gezang 58, Verzen 7 en 9 - Ruwe stormen mogen woeden
GC 3870 Gezang 180, Verzen 1 en 3 - 'k will U, O God der Goden
GC 3871 Psalm 25, Verzen 1 en 2 - 'k Hefmijn ziel, O God der Goden
GC 3872 Psalm 89, Verzen 7 en 8 - Hoe zalig is het volk
3) The double-sided records reissued on the Zonophone Twin label in the order they were issued. Note that some Dutch titles in SAME differ slightly from Kelly's research:
Annie Visser (soprano) (piano), issued 1912
4000 De Veltpartijdji (X-43278)
4000 Mamma 'k wil'n man he (X-43279)
4001 Grietje (X-43280)
4001 Ou tante Koos (X-43281)
4002 Afrikaans Volkslied (X-43282)
4002 Gertji (X-43283)
4003 Afrikaans Bruiloftslied (X-43284)
4003 De Afrikaanse Pop (X-43285)
4004 Zuid Afrikaans Volkslied (X-43286)
4004 Transvaalsche Volkslied (was Das Volkslied von Transvaal) (X-43287)
Annie Visser (soprano) (organ), issued 1912
4005 Gezang 58, Verzen 7 en 9 (Ruwe stormen mogen woeden) (X-43288)
4005 Gezang 180, Verzen 1 en 3 ('k will U, O mijn dank betalen) (X-43289)
4006 Psalm 25, Verzen 1 en 2 ('k Hef mijn ziel, O God der Goden) (X-43290)
4006 Psalm 89, Verzen 7 en 8
(Hoe zalig is het volk dat naar Uw klankens! hoort) (X-43291)
4007 Gezang 68 (Zalig zalig niets te wezen) (X-43292)
4007 Gezang 21 (Diepe wijsheid zijn Uw paden) (X-43293)
4008 Gezang 96 (Halleluja eeuwig dank en eere) (X-43294)
4008 Gezang 83 (Heer waar dan heen) (X-43295)
4009 Psalm 68 (De Heer zal opstaan tot den strijd) (X-43296)
4009 Gezang 62 (Heilige Jesus, mijn ten leven) (X-43297)
The UK based Gramophone Company Limited (home to labels like His Master's Voice and Zonophone) was one of the first companies to issue South African music and had sent a recording engineer George Walter Dillnutt there with a mobile unit in March and April of 1912. The unit recorded material in Johannesburg and Cape Town that was subsequently issued on 78 rpm shellac discs and marketed in South Africa as the 4000 series on the company's Zonophone Twin label. The company would continue making recordings in the 1920s and 30s at its head office in London.
Annie Visser was the first artist to be issued in the Zonphone 4000 series, with the coupling numbers 4000 to 4009. The label above shows the second Zonophone design in the 4000 series and is a reissue from the 1920s. Interestingly the disc has two different designs the A-side carries the second design while the B-side has the HMV trademark with the famous dog and trumpet.
Visser was not part of the 1912 recordings in Johannesburg and Cape Town, but rather her tracks were all recorded in London, initially in 1908 and then again in 1910. These were all first issued on the Gramophone Concert Record label in the UK. When the Gramophone Company developed the 4000 series for the SA market they reissued a number of records from their existing London catalogue of South African material going back as early as 1906.
The bulk of Visser's material was recorded in May and June of 1910 — striking because this also happened to co-incide with the formation of the Union of South Africa. Significantly Visser recorded the Zuid Afrikaans Volkslied (South African National Anthem) on the actual day of the formation of the Union — May 31st, 1910 — and there is a possibility that this could have been a live recording at a formal function in London. Note that this anthem would not have been Die Stem van Suid-Afrika, which was only written in 1918, and so I can only guess what this particular anthem may have been.
The Union of South Africa united the four British colonies — Cape, Natal, Transvaal and Orange River Colony — taking place exactly eight years after the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging which brought the Second Boer War to a close. The war had been contested between the Afrikaner Republics and colonial Britain.
It is my speculation that there was much interest in the Union event and the Gramophone Company saw this as an opportunity to sell some records with South African content. Apart from a number of hymns, Visser's repertoire also included various other National Anthems from South Africa including the Afrikaans Volslied and the Transvaalse Volkslied.
Annie Visser, as her biography in the South African Music Encyclopedia reveals, was born in Lokshoek in the Orange Free State Republic on August 6th, 1876. Her father, an Afrikaner, was the chairman of the Vrystaatse Volkraad, while her mother, an Englishwomen, was a descendant of the 1820 British Settlers. Early on Visser showed signs of having a quality singing voice and after some music training in Cape Town it was recommended that she receive further training at the Royal Academy of Music in London. There she studied under Purcell.
This all took place before the Boer War, but with the opening of hostilities, her anti-British sentiment lead her to move to Amsterdam, where she continued her studies under Marie Mély. She would return to London in 1904 for her singing debut as a mezzo-soprano on April 28th. Interestingly, here, among the various opera arias she also sang the African Romances (1897) by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a composer of mixed-race heritage, who happened to accompany her on that occasion. She would eventually return to South Africa and tour.
Of note, as the SAME points out, she endorsed the sentiments of J.B.M. Hertzog and his National Party when it was formed in 1912 and subsequently included more Afrikaans songs in her repertoire. Her pro-Afrikaner position is also highlighted in a quote from the Natal Mercury in which she stated : "... making the [Afrikaner] proud of his language by singing about it and in it... the [Afrikaner] people need stirring up in this way."
After the First World War her signing career began to slow down, but she continued as a music teacher. She eventually died at the age of 50 in Fauriesmith, in the Orange Free State on May 26th 1927.
Many thanks to Chris Albertyn for allowing me to photograph his collection. Also I am indebted to Alan Kelly for his tireless research on the discography of the Gramophone Company.