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German medical doctor, specialist in the physiology of sport, advocate for physical education in Germany and for the development of sport science; co-founder of the Verein Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, later vice-chairman of its board of directors, ultimately its chairman.

Career Summary

Schmidt attended school in Bonn, studied medicine at Bonn University 1872‒76, then after further studies in Berlin established his own medical practice in Bonn. Schmidt devoted his life to the cause of physical education in Germany, and the encouragement of regular outdoor physical exercise, games, and sport for purposes of general health and fitness. He was the instigator of many movements and organizations. In 1873 he founded the Association for Medical-Natural Science, as an incorporated body of Bonn University. As a town concillor in Bonn he introduced a school medical officer service, and built a special school for the "mentally less gifted." He was also an early advocate for naturism.

Schmidt lectured on hygiene and sports physiology and medicine, and wrote numerous academic journal articles and several books (see Bibliography below). For his scholarly work and activities he was given awards by many bodies in Germany, Italy, and the United States. After 50 years of medical service, he was named the first honorary member of the Prussian Gymnastics Union, and received the honorary chairmanship of the German Doctors' Union for the Advancement of Physical Exercise.

Schmidt and the Beethoven-Haus, Bonn

In 1889, with the newspaper proprietor of the Bonn General-Anzeiger, Hermann Neusser (1839‒1909), he effected the purchase of the birth-house of Beethoven (Bonngasse 20), and with Neusser and others co-founded the Verein Beethoven-Haus (Association for the Beethoven House), of which he was from 1904 the vice-chairman of the board of directors (Zweiter Vorsitzender), and from 1923 to his death in 1929 its Chairman (Erster Vorsitzender). In 1906 he was accorded the title "Professor." He published a book on the Beethoven-Haus in 1911, expanded to cover the house and archive in 1927. Late in life he was accorded the golden medal of the Bonn Male Voice Union for "services to music," and in 1918 he was made a Privy Counsellor for Sanitation (Geheimer Sanitätsrat) and in 1926 an honorary citizen of Bonn.


Among the Schenker correspondence there survive ten letters from 1913‒14 to or from Ferdinand August Schmidt, in his capacity as vice-chairman of the board of the Beethoven-Haus: three from Schmidt to Schenker (OC B/203, 204, 205), three from Schenker to Schmidt (BNba 304g, [1], [8], BNba 318, [2]); three from Schmidt to his chairman, Ernst Zitelmann (BNba 304g, [2], [3], and [7]), and one from Schmidt to an unidentified Beethoven-Haus colleague (BNba 304g, [4]).

Bibliography [none consulted]

  • All authored by Ferdinand August Schmidt
  • Das Beethoven-Haus in Bonn (Bonn: Verlag des Beethoven-Hauses, 1911)
  • with Friedrich Knickeberg, Das Beethoven-Haus in Bonn und seine Sammlungen (Bonn: Verlag des Beethoven-Hauses, 1927)
  • Physical Exercises and their Beneficial Influence ... ([St Louis]: Executive Committee of the North American Gymnastic Union, [1914])
  • Physiologie der Leibesübungen (Leipzig: Voigtländer, 1922)
  • Das Schulkind nach seiner körperlichen Eigenart und Entwicklung (Leipzig: Voigtländer, 1914)
  • The Training of the Body for Games, Athletics, Gymnastics, and other Forms of Exercise ... (New York: Dutton & Co., 1901)
  • Unser Körper: Handbuch der Anatomie, Physiologie und Hygiene der Leibesübungen (Leipzig: Voigtländer, 1899)


  • "Ferdinand August Schmidt," German wikipedia [consulted October 2019]


  • Ian Bent

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