Irma Liebenberg


Irma Liebenberg is the managing director of the Liebenberg Property Trust in Bethal, Mpumalanga. The Trust mainly provide housing to immigrants from Ethiopia, Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. Since 1991, she is an active community member in her hometown, taking part in local politics, recycling, and planting trees. After her studies she taught High School Mathematics for 5 years and then switched to her other main subject Preschool Music. She was a private preschool music teacher for many years and initiated the first multi-racial Eisteddfod in her hometown. She and her husband raised four sons while she was a full-time chicken-broiler farmer, running her own Masakhane-project in the local township. She enjoys running and is a member of the Comrades Green Number Club. She is also a qualified Yogi, giving regular classes at her studio.
She obtains a BA ed Mus (1982), BMus Hons (1990) and MMus Musicology (2011) from the University of Pretoria.


Irma’s interest in children’s songs started during her first years at university and is now resolving in a PhD study that concerns the women composers of Afrikaans songs for children.

The names of seven woman: Adéle Jooste, Annie Langelaar, Jeanette Pistorius,
Maxie de Villiers, Rhoda Barry, Rykie Pienaar en Saar Engela are found in the children’s section of the FAK-Sangbundels (1961,1979). These women, their music publications for children and their involvement in music education, within a larger South African twentieth century music network, dominated by men, is the topic of her study.
Three of them were composers, two were poets whose work had been set to music by a well-known male composer and the other two translated European children’s folklore to Afrikaans. They were the main music makers, teachers, and creators of children’s songs, but none of them were ever involved in the formal decision-making proses about implementing compulsory music education in schools. Children’s songs were the crux of the school music program and yet up to this date, these women are mostly unknown.
Irma is writing their biographies (in Afrikaans) to include them in the South African music historiography. She also explores the underestimated value of children’s songs and the possible adult ideologic manipulation thereof, within the educational domain.
Her thesis title is:
Die buitenetwerk van Afrikaanse vroue-kinderliedjiekomponiste: ’n biografie van konneksies