Henry Klein, 33°, 90°, 95°, IX°
by Richard Kaczynski
Along with Theodor Reuss and Franz Hartmann, Henry Klein, 33°, 90°, 95°, IX°, completed the triumvirate of occultists who worked to bring esoteric Freemasonry to German-speaking people and helped to co-found Ordo Templi Orientis.
John Andrew Henry Klein (1842–1913) was born in Weissenberg am Sand, Bavaria, where his father was Waldmeister or Master of the Forest. In 1862, Klein emigrated to London and began working as an importer of “fancy goods.” He became a naturalized British citizen on March 1, 1867, and lived the rest of his life in and around London.
By 1872, he had changed professions and, after serving as business manager for the Mendholsson Piano Company, set up shop as a sheet music publisher known over the years as Henry Klein & Co. or some variation thereupon. Among the many works that he produced were his own piano compositions and popular songs. By 1885 he expanded his musical resume to include impresario—with offices in both London and Berlin—managing prominent musicians of the day such as violinists Teresina Tua (1867–c. 1955) and Arma Senkrah (1864–1900), and pianists Arthur Friedheim (1859–1932) and Anna Grosser (1853–c. 1937). As competition and piracy made music publishing less lucrative, Klein shifted his business in the 1890s to importing high-tech instruments and music-reproducing devices, including Symphonion and Polyphon music boxes, phonographs, miniature pianos (pianettes), player pianos and organs, and—even later—coin-operated games of chance. He thus established himself as one of London’s leading musical importers. Klein retired in spring of 1906.
Professionally, he struggled throughout his career with bankruptcies, liquidations, and changes to his business name until, late in his career, he found a benefactor in his personal friend and composer-turned-newspaper magnate Alfred Charles Harmsworth, Lord Beaverbrook (1865–1922).
Klein was initiated into Freemasonry at Salisbury Lodge No. 435, taking his Entered Apprentice (1°) on November 21, 1865, passing to Fellowcraft (2°) on December 19, and finally being raised a Master Mason (3°) on January 16, 1866. He did not remain active in his Lodge beyond 1866, but later joined London’s German-speaking Pilger Loge (Pilgrim Lodge) No. 238 on December 10, 1872, where he served as Director of Ceremonies for 1872 and 1873. He resigned his membership with Pilgrim Lodge on October 14, 1874. Over the years, Klein’s Masonic connections would prove valuable in both his professional and personal lives. Grand Organist for the United Grand Lodge of England, and one of Klein’s fellow Lodge members, Wilhelm Ganz (1833–1914), was among his earliest clients as a music publisher. And when Klein wed the widow Mary Meyrick née Johnson (c. 1848–1933) in 1875, his witnesses were Jeremiah How (ca. 1796–1884) and his daughter, Caroline. Jeremiah How was a prominent Freemason, and his book The Freemason’s Manual, or Illustrations of Masonry (published in three editions in 1862, 1865 and 1881) was one of the earliest to discuss hauts grades Masonry, including the Scottish Rite, Swedenborgian Rite, and Ancient and Primitive Rite.
When Klein became secretary of the newly-formed Popular Wagner Concerts’ Society in 1885, the baritone for their second concert turned out to be his future colleague, Theodor Reuss. Reuss would follow in Klein’s footsteps as an impresario, and the two men shared several business connections. In 1901, Reuss began working to bring high degree esoteric Masonry to the German empire. After obtaining authorization to represent the Swedenborgian Rite and the Societas Rosicruciana, Reuss fell out with his then-partner, Leopold Engel, and thus enlisted the aid of Klein and Franz Hartmann. In 1902, John Yarker appointed Hartmann, Klein and Reuss to the degree of Grand Curators General (95°) in honoris causa, the highest non-administrative degree in the Rite of Memphis. Then, on September 24, 1902, Yarker issued jointly to the three of them a charter authorizing “the Sovereign Sanctuary 33°–95° etc., in and for the Empire of Germany” to administer the degrees of the Rite of Misraïm (90°), Rite of Memphis (95°), and the Cerneau Scottish Rite (33°). According to this charter, Reuss was Grand Master, Hartmann was Grand Administrator General, and Klein was Grand Keeper of the Golden Book (or, as he signed himself on official documents, Grand Registrar General). Pleased with the progress of the Rite, the Sovereign Sanctuary of Great Britain and Ireland voted on July 14, 1903, to make Carl Kellner, Theodor Reuss, Franz Hartmann and Henry Klein Honorary Grand Masters. To reflect their new powers, this confederation of esoteric rites changed its name from the Große Freimaurerloge für Deutschland (Freemasonic Grand Lodge for Germany) to Gross-Orient des Alten und Angenommenen Schottischen 33° Ritus und Souveränes Sanktuarium des Alten und Primitif Ritus 95° und Memphis- und Misraim-Ritus in und für das Deutsche Reich (Grand Orient of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite 33° and Sovereign Sanctuary of the Ancient and Primitive Rite 95° and the Memphis- and Misraim-Rite in and for the German Empire).
Whatever the organization’s name—it was in a state of flux in those early years—Klein’s name and signature graces all of its documents. This includes the 1906 charter authorizing Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) to confer the degrees of Adoptive Masonry and of the Rite of Misraïm; the 1908 charter appointing Arnoldo Krumm-Heller (1876–1949) the Grand Representative General of the Rite in Mexico; the 1908 authorization to Gérard Encausse and colleagues to form a Supreme Grand Council of the Rite in France; the 1912 charter appointing Aleister Crowley as National Grand Master General for the British Section of O.T.O. (the name upon which the organization, by that time, had finally settled); and the subsequent 1912 certificates bringing in the initial members of M∴M∴M∴.
Following Franz Hartmann on August 7, 1912, and John Yarker on March 20, 1913, Henry Klein died on May 23, 1913. The cause of death was carcinoma of the tongue, and Klein’s obituary in the Oriflamme reported that he died “after long and severe suffering.”1)
Howe, Ellic. “Theodor Reuss: Irregular Freemasonry in Germany, 1900–23.” Ars Quatuor Coronatorum 1978, 91: 28–46.
Kaczynski, Richard. Forgotten Templars: The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis. Privately printed: Baltimore, MD: 2012.
The Oriflamme, 1902–1914.
1) “Amtlicher Teil,” Oriflamme, Jul 1913, 11: 2.