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W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library Manuscript Collections

Guide to the Harald Rohlig papers MSS.2115


Finding aid prepared by Elizabeth Barger, Mary Alice Fields, Donnelly Walton and Kate Matheny


University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 35487-0266



This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2009-08-28T15:29-0500

Language Usage:


Description Rules:

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Collection Title:

Harald Rohlig Papers

Unit ID:



University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama


7.0 Linear feet 7 linear feet


circa 1955-2007

Language of Materials note

English, German


Papers, manuscripts, recordings, and artifacts chronicling the life and work of Harald Ernst Hermann Rohlig, organist and composer who taught at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, for more than fifty years.

Access Restrictions:

Open to researchers without restriction.

Scope and Contents note

Most of the Rohlig family documents, including those related to Rohlig's childhood, were destroyed when Osnabruck, where they lived at the time, was bombed during World War II. Records donated to UA begin with documents relating to his time as a prisoner of war in France from 1945-1948 and continue to the present. Of special interest in the collection are hundreds of hours of personal video and audio recordings including radio broadcasts, church services, concerts dating from the mid-1960s. The reel-to-reel tapes were recorded in the mid-1960s and early 1970s for use as radio broadcasts. Most recordings in the collection were made at Memorial Presbyterian Church (1955-1962), Huntingdon College (1955- ), or St. John's Episcopal Church (1962- ) in Montgomery, Alabama. Some recordings were made during concerts at various locations; others were recorded during church services. As a performer, Rohlig is particularly known for his interpretations of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and for his skill as an improviser. His academic specialty is church music, particularly that which relates music to the Christian faith. Some recordings include analysis of the compositions being played. His taped memoirs cover his childhood experiences as the son of a Methodist minister who was sent to Bergen Belsen concentration camp for his resistance efforts against Hitler, his musical education before and after World War II in Germany, and his experiences as a musician and educator in Alabama for well over fifty years.

Correspondence, news clippings, and photographs document his career as a composer, church musician, educator, organ designer, and family man.

Processing Information:

Processed by

Elizabeth Barger, Mary Alice Fields, Donnelly Lancaster, and Kate Matheny, 2008

Preferred Citation:

The Harald Rohlig Papers, W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Harald Rohlig, 2007

Biographical/Historical note

Harald Ernst Hermann Rohlig was born in Aurich, Germany, on October 6, 1926. The son of a United Methodist minister who opposed Hitler's regime, Rohlig was forced to join the Hitler Youth at age 10 when his family's food and basic necessities were restricted. His father was later incarcerated at the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. In 1943 Rohlig was drafted into the air force. Before World War II ended he was captured by American soldiers, from whom he received good treatment, and spent three years in a French prison camp.

After his release from the prison camp in 1948 Rohlig returned to his musical studies. A musical prodigy who was composing and concertizing before he was in his teens, Rohlig studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in London and earned his doctorate in pipe organ design from Osnabruck Conservatory. In 1953 he immigrated with his wife Ingeborg Lieverz Rohlig, a violinist, to Linden, Alabama, where he taught piano and organ, played the organ, and conducted choirs at the Methodist and Baptist churches. He moved to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 to take a faculty position at Huntingdon College. Dr. Rohlig taught at Huntingdon for more than fifty years, where he was awarded every teaching honor the college grants. During his career he has written over 1,000 pieces of music and published over 300 works. In 2000, the United Methodist Foundation for Christian Higher Education named him Educator of the Year

His wife Inge passed away in 1999. In July 2005 he married Jeannette Lynn.

He retired from Huntingdon in 2006 and continues to compose, teach private piano and organ lessons, and serve as organist/choir master at St. John's Episcopal Church in Montgomery, a position he has held since 1962. His legacy includes design of several neo-Baroque pipe organs in the Southeast, including one in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Source: "Dr. Harald Rohlig: A Story of Triumph and Love," Huntingdon College Magazine, Fall 2005, Volume 84, Number 1, pages 8-10