THIS PAGE LAST MODIFIED Wednesday 15 November 2017 16:50


An online resource toward the history of music in colonial and early Federation Australia

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)

To navigate the site and links us the left sidebar

Pulldown menus for the Biographical register and Chronological checklist


Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders are respectfully advised that this site and links contain names, images, and voices of dead persons


Australharmony acknowledges and pays respect to the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. It is upon their ancestral lands, and in respectful emulation of their example, that this site has been built and is maintained.


Going to the bush to practice (NLA)


More from Sydney Living Musuems ... Sound Heritage Sydney and the Stewart Symonds Sheet Music Collection

Matthew Stephens at Sydney Living Museums has just announced that 16 video clips of performances from their 28 March Sound Heritage Sydney symposium concert have now been uploaded to the SLM's YouTube channel.

The concert, entitled Here and there: music at home in Sydney and London, 1830-1845, was at Elizabeth Bay House.–1845 

Few of these pieces have previously been recorded. But I draw your attention especially to the following:

Currency lasses (quadrille), Sydney 1825, by Tempest Margaret Paul, performed by James Doig (pianoforte) (STREAMED VIDEO)

Leichhardt's grave, Sydney 1845, by Isaac Nathan, performed by Nyssa Milligan (voice) and Katrina Faulds (pianoforte). (STREAMED VIDEO)

Thy greeting home again: a paean on Leichhardt's return from Port Essington, Sydney 1846, performed by James Doig (voice) and Katrina Faulds (piano) (STREAMED VIDEO)

SLM has so far uploaded 32 video clips of musical performances and other materials.

The team at SLM's Caroline Simpson Library and Research Collection have now also created short catalogue records for the entire Stewart Symonds Sheet Music Collection (over 1500 pieces in 47 volumes) and these are now available via the SLM library catalogue, TROVE and Worldcat:

SLM Library Catalogue



On 29 March I posted that SLM had uploaded 87 digitised Australian-owned music publications into the:

Internet Archive 

As of today, that figure is now 127, with over 20 more being processed.

Many of the pieces digitised are being made available to the public for the first time, and the SLM has also prioritised more of their music collection for future digitisation.


Sadak and Kalasrade ... Charles Packer's 1835 London opera recovered!

Image: detail, Robert Martin (1812), Sadak in search of the waters of oblivion (USA, Saint Louis Art Museum; Wikimedia Commons)

Charles Sandys Packer's "romantic opera", Sadak and Kalasrade; or the waters of oblivion, was first performed in London on 20 April 1835, precisely 182 years ago today.

The 25-year-old's score created a small storm - a storm, it must be admitted, of mostly negative criticism. The opera was quickly taken off, and thereafter no attempt was made to revive it.

Just over three years later, anyway, Packer fell even more spectacularly in public estimation. Accused of faking bills in an attempt to embezzle over £2000, he was convicted of forgery, and was transported to the Australian colonies for life.

Packer evidently remained fond of at least some of the music of the ill-fated Sadak. He performed the work's Overture and the simple but lovely second-act Terzetto many times in Australia, from his early years of freedom in Tasmania in the late 1840s, through to the 1870s.

An early colonial performance of the Overture was one that Packer himself gave, in keyboard reduction, in Hobart in February 1848 on an instrument newly imported from Paris called the EOLOPHON, evidently a type of seraphine.

A notable concert performance of the Terzetto, "O'er the far mountain" was given in September 1859 by Packer and principals from his resident opera company at Sydney's Prince of Wales Theatre, three leading colonial vocalists of the era, Maria Carandini, Sara Flower, and John Gregg.

Curious as to what this music might sound like, several years ago I asked a colleague in London, the Australian-born composer and organist Philip Nunn, if he could take a look, on my behalf, at the original 1835 performance materials for Packer's Sadak in the British Library.

Philip sent me a detailed source report, indicating that many of the set pieces of the opera were recoverable from the surviving manuscript orchestral and vocal partbooks and piano score, and possibly, with a little ingenuity, an editor could even reconstruct a performable version.

Tyrone Landau was planning a performance of some early Australian music that the late Richard Divall had edited for the Marshall-Hall Trust, when he heard from Thérèse Radic about Philip's report on Sadak.

Having obtained a copy from Philip, Tyrone went to see the manuscripts themselves in the British Library, and - after not inconsiderable labor - he has now produced the first modern editions of the two key extracts that Packer himself performed regularly in Australia - the Overture, and the Terzetto O'er the far mountains.

To encourage and enable future live performances, Tyrone Landau has now made his editions of these two extracts freely available (under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 license) in:

* full orchestral score

* piano reduction/vocal score

* complete orchestral parts

* and Sibelius synthesised sound file

The can now be freely downloaded at Petrucci/IMSLP,_Charles_Sandys)

For Australharmony documentation on Sadak and Kalasrade (Packer would have pronounced it: "SAY-dak and Kay-las-RAYD") see:

On the original 1835 London production and the extant sources:

Sadak and Kalasrade (documentation)

Sadak and Kalasrade (worklist entry)

Australian documentary references to the opera: (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

This is a wonderful outcome, and all of us with a serious interest in Australia's colonial musical heritage owe Tyrone a debt of gratitude.


Some early "bush bands" ...
Bush band, Mount Surprise, QLD, c.1905

Bush band performing at Mount Surprise, Queensland, ca. 1905 (State Library of Queensland) (DIGITISED)


The reception given by the people of Parramatta to his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, on Monday, was as cordial and enthusiastic as the most loyal subject of her Majesty could desire ...

... After his Royal Highness left the park a large number of the spectators also took their departure. Those who remained betook themselves to dancing quadrilles upon the green sward to the inspiriting strains of the Volunteer band, who throughout the day discoursed an immense quantity of music. There was another band upon the ground - what was called "The bush band" - which also favoured the public with much melody. Its harmonies, however, were more of a lugubrious and sentimental character than those of its rival, and it was consequently less popular. It was, however, the centre of a small knot of applauding amateurs de musique who seemed to appreciate "Ah che la morte," and "The heart bowed down," &c. ..,

"VICTORIA PLAINS. Visit of His Excellency Governor Weld", The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times (19 November 1869), 2-3 

The reception of His Excellency Governor Weld by the Fathers and community of the R. C. Mission, Victoria Plains, was grand yet simple and religious ... ... (3) ... While His Excellency was at supper, a bush band was got up consisting of a violin, concertina, triangle, and a large tin dish which answered instead of a drum; several popular airs were played; and His Excellency was very much pleased, for he knew that every one was doing their very best, and with the best intentions. After the music several selected songs were sang in good style; Masters A. and F. Clinch accompanied on the piano sang the song known as "A motto for every man", as also "God save the Queen," which put an end to the evening's entertainment.

"A CAPITAL JOKE", Wagga Wagga Express and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser (7 August 1872), 2 

In the middle of last week two young persons residing between Queanbeyan and Micalago, resolved upon casting their lot together, and accordingly repaired at the appointed time to the Burra Church there to tie with their tongue a knot not to be loosed with their teeth. This necessary formality having been disposed ot, the happy pair returned to the home of the bride's father to spend the evening, where they were joined by a few friends who contented themselves with the cup that cheers but not inebriates, dispensing with the bottle, but enjoying the song. This state of things was not permitted to last long. Between eight and nine o'clock the distant sound of rattling pots and pans proclaimed the advance of invaders, and accordingly a council of war was at once held as to the reception to be given to the visitors. One powerful individual proposed that he should be permitted to go at them as Sampson did the Philistines with the jaw bone of an ass. This was objected to. Up rode the bush band. After kicking up a most unearthly noise for some time time they retired to the back of a paddock close by, where they secured their horses to the rails, and again resumed their disorderly conduct. In the mean time, however, one of the inmates of the house contrived to get out through a window, and, with carving knife in hand, unnoticed proceeded to the place where the horses were, and, in far less time than it would lake to tell this story, cut the horses bridles and the girths, allowing them to go at large, which they were not slow to do with tin-pot music at their tail. But alas! what sorrow and dismay was pictured in the countenance of the poor wretches who, half perished, half starved, were seen running in all directions in search of their not-to-be-found horses. Lost they were; and sold, yes, most effectually sold, were the band who thought to ridicule and annoy others. One or two valuable horses and saddles are missing, and as to the riders, they had to travel home on shank's mare a distance of several miles where they had an opportunity of reflecting over their folly and disgraceful conduct - Communicated to the Queanbeyan Age.

For an earlier account of rough music to celebrate a wedding, though without specific mention of a bush band, see:

"MARRIAGE A LA MODE", The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (7 May 1861), 3 

On Thursday evening the Albury Flat was illuminated by bon-fires and blazing tar barrels, and enlivened with the rough music of marrow-bones, cleavers, tin pots, and other instruments ...

"Notes from Allora. [FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT] January 18", Warwick Argus (26 January 1886), 2 

The new year was ushered in in this part of the world in the usual fashion. The stiring strains of the bush band - composed of first and second kerosine tins, an asthmatic concertina, a wheezy comb, and a couple of broken-voiced tin whistles - burst upon the stilly night as the clock struck 12. The atmospheric disturbance was something terrific - and the wonder is that we have had a day's fine weather since. The roisterers made the usual round of the pubs. At the first - host Holmes' - the 'cute landlord warned his visitors that it being after midnight, and consequently 1886, the new Licensing Act was in force and he dare not open his house or sell liquor between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. "We don't want you to sell it, shouted the tin whistle. But the landlord was obdurate, and the thirsty ones had at last to go empty away. They were more successful elsewhere. Having gathered plenty of eatables and drinkables, they returned to the Royal and made things lively for a short time; then, leaving their instruments in pledge for what they did not get, adjourned to the recreation reserve and disposed of the "wine and wittles." Most of them have quite recovered.

"N'IMPORTE", The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (8 September 1900), 552 

Back-Block journal: A dance was held last night to provide our band with uniforms. Singularly enough, the evolution of a bush band has, so far, escaped the attention of Herbert Spencer. Yet it is a development fraught with interest, and capable of throwing clear side-lights on some of the abstrusest questions of sociology. First, there's the widespread feeling that life without music is a mistake. Then the blacksmith leading the local choir calls a meeting, which is followed by advertisements for amateurs and instruments. The next step is to provide a bandmaster, one who can play the cornopean and shoe horses preferred. When the question of uniform arises - an orchestra without livery is an anachronism - there's nothing for it but a bazaar or a ball. For months afterwards the clearing in the forest is filled with melody possessing mesmerising and paralysing characteristics; the woods resound with tender wail; the cornopean is heard over the tops of the highest trees, and the person that started the idea is shunned as an enemy to society. The natural history of a bush band deserves more attention that it has hitherto received.

Wangaratta Brass Band, Wangaratta, VIC, c.1885 (Museum Victoria) (DIGITISED)


Trans-Tasman harmony ... New Zealand published composers 1850-1913

NZ colleague, Elizabeth Nichol has now released online this important new data set compiled while completing her University of Auckland doctoral research on New Zealand's published music 1850-1913.

The data presented does not appear in her doctoral thesis, but is supplemental to it. It is comprehensive as of February 2017, but, just as here in Australia, relevant new information is constantly coming to light.

A very brief overview page can be downloaded from the link below along with the three main documents:

1. Published New Zealand music 1850-1913 by date

2. Short biographical notes New Zealand composers 1850-1913

3. Music in New Zealand periodicals 1850-1913

Elizabeth Nichol, New Zealand published composers 1850-1913, figshare (2017)


Sydney Living Musuems @ Internet Archive ...

Sydney Living Museums @ Internet Archive 2017 screenshot

First postings in this new and growing international digital archive of Australian colonial sheet music 


Australharmony at Sound Heritage Sydney symposium ...

From Sydney Living Museums' event announcement: 

"In late March, an international forum of invited experts will spend a day at Elizabeth Bay House sharing their knowledge about music making in historic houses ... Sound Heritage Sydney will bring together musicians, scholars and heritage practitioners to discuss what and how music was played in historic houses and at other historic sites. The forum is also interested in uncovering innovative ways music can be used to reveal new narratives in historic properties for contemporary visitors.

"Sydney Living Museums is the Australian partner of the British-based Sound Heritage network, co-founded by Professor Jeanice Brooks, University of Southampton, and Jonathan Wainwright, University of York, and funded by the Arts and Humanties Research Council (UK). Launched in 2015, Sound Heritage is an international network that is seeking a richer understanding of how music functioned in the life of historic houses in the 18th and 19th centuries."

Symposium speakers, biographies, and abstracts: 


Richard Divall 1945-2017

Richard Divall, AO OBE, Australian conductor and musicologist, and one of most ardent advocates of Australian colonial music, died on 15 January 2017, after a long illness.

I was uncertain how best, and most usefully, to register our loss of Richard, until I recalled his special advocacy of and practical interest in the music of Carl Linger.

Accordingly, in his memory, I have now updated my biographical entry on Carl Linger into a dedicated page ... or at least a somewhat sketchy and imperfect first edition thereof: 

And tagged many more relevant TROVE items: 

The main purpose of the webpage is, in the first instance, to collate basic information about Linger's documented compositions, and what sadly appear to be several manuscripts unaccountably missing. I note with interest that Dr. Jula Szuster in 2012-13 addressed "Carl Linger's Missing Legacy" and "the possible fate of his missing compositions". In particular, the apparent loss, since 1935-36, of the original score (? and parts) of Linger's Concert Overture is mysterious and vexing. See also important data on Linger's late relationship with Mathilde Cranz.

Many of Richard's orchestral arrangements of colonial music have been digitised and are available online at the National Library of Australia (NLA persistent identifier) (TROVE search)

You can find and freely download Richard's own Linger editions from his permanent legacy:

The Monash Digital Archive of Early Australian Music 


Revised and expanded chronicles and checklists . . .

Surviving and recoverable colonial musical documentation being so scarce until the mid 1820s, I have now reformatted all the earliest data together into a chronicle of colonial music from earliest contacts to the end of 1825. Arranged in chronological order, the aim is to log all known, and as it comes to light all new, evidence of music, musicians, and music-making in this very early colonial period.

It is divided into the following pages:

A chronicle of music in colonial Australia from earliest contacts to 1800 

A chronicle of music in colonial Australia from 1801 to 1810 

A chronicle of music in colonial Australia from 1811 to 1820 

A chronicle of music in colonial Australia from 1821 to 1825 

After around 1826, a continuation of the chronicle format is no longer feasible or useful, due, simply, to the much greater amount of musical information that survives from that time forward. Accordingly, from 1 January 1826, only musical "works" (whether settler or Indigenous) are logged in the chronological checklists of musical works.

The latest of the major revisions of the checklists of musical works:

A chronological checklist of Australian colonial musical works 1841-1845 


New pages . . . and new Trove tags

New pages under construction

George Loder and Emma Neville

The Duly family, Tasmania's first opera, and the Band of the 51st Regiment

New tags

Hobart Town Choral Society (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

George Gordonovitch (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


New pages . . . and new Trove tags

New page

Leopold Rawack (Ravac) and Amalia Rawack (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

Leopold Rawack, violinist, shipping agent, and merchant, Sydney, 1846-73 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

Amalia Rawack (Amalie Mauthner), pianist, "pupil of Thalberg and Liszt", Sydney, 1854-61

New page

James Waller (1819-1871), musical amateur, and family (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

James Waller (1819-1871), bass-baritone vocalist, musical amateur, Sydney, c.1840s-1860s (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

"Nur ein Geiger" (Only a fiddler), unidentified musical old-timer and malcontent, serial correspondent to the Sydney press, c.1850s-1890s, probably a member of the orchestra of the Sydney Philharmonic Society, c.1850s

Frederick Evans Sloper (c.1824-1903), pharmacist, amateur musician, cellist, saxhorn player, inventor, Sydney (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

Sydney University Musical Festival, 1859, the first Australian "national" musical festival


New and recently posted pages . . .

Charles d'Apice (Carlo Sica)

The Ellard family (under construction)

John Philip Deane and family (under construction)

Marian Maria Chester, singer and actor

The Hobart Town Concerts of 1826-27

The Sydney Amateur Concerts of 1826-27

POSTED 7 & 11 JUNE 2016

New and updated pages . . .

Maria Taylor, vocalist and actor - new dedicated page

Sophia Letitia Davis - new dedicated page

George Oswald Rutter - new dedicated page

The emigrant, a song on the eve of lady's embarking for Van Diemen's Land, 1823 - with sound file

Walter James Turner and family - a new page on the leading Melbourne organist, conductor and composer of the 1880s and 1890s, Walter James Turner senior, and his musical family, including the poet and critic W. J. Turner junior, with sound file of Turner senior's Danse Aboriginale

Joseph Gautrot's Josephian Hymn (Hobart, 1844) - page expanded and updated, with sound file

POSTED 13 MAY 2016

August Gehde, an old colonist remembers . . .

For well over 50 years, the Gehdes, father and sons, were fixtures at W. H. Paling's Sydney music warehouse. In 1909, the 80-year-old August Gehde gave these fascinating recollections of the Sydney music scene at the time of his arrival from Germany via Adelaide in the early 1850s, and in the decades following, including his memories of artists including Catherine Hayes, Anna Bishop, Edward Boulanger, Cesare Cutolo, Arabella Goddard, and Henri Ketten . . .

"Talk With an Octogenarian", Sunday Times (7 March 1909), Magazine 7 

Sixty Seven Years a Worker - Reminiscences of Gold-fever Days and Early Sydney. THE GREAT MUSICAL ARTISTS. (FOR THE "SUNDAY TIMES")

Mr. August Gehde, whose score as the veteran of W. H. Paling and Co.'s establishment, is "fifty not out," is a genial old gentleman upon whom age has stolen with
"Softly-cadenced feet,
Falling in music."
Born on September 29, 1828, Mr. Gehde still combines practical activities with the pleasant habit of existence. In other words, the senior tuner answers the roll call daily at Paling's, and walks smartly to his home in Crown-street with the consciousness that, like "The Village Blacksmith," he has
- "Something done
To earn a night's repose."
. . . read full transcription here


Georgiana Molloy . . . Augusta, WA, 1840

From Bernice Barry's biography of the WA pioneer, botanist, and amateur musician . . .

I have a little organie as it is called, or a sort of instrument like an Organ and Piano united. It is like a Work table in appearance and being a wind instrument has the advantage of not getting out of tune. This the children often dance to, and at dear Augusta, I used to take it on the grass plot and play by Moonlight, the beautiful broad water of the Blackwood gliding by, the roar of the Bar, and ever and anon the wild scream of a flight of Swans going over to the Fresh Water Lakes. The air perfectly redolent with the powerful scent of Vergillia, Stocks, and Oenothera biennis, Clove Pinks and never fading Mignonette. We always used to have Tea outside, and for our amusement and interest I had sown the Oenothera tetraptera and Oenothera biennis profusely in the Borders adjoining this plot, so that we might watch their expanding blossoms.

University of WA, Battye Library, BLP ACC 479A, letter books of James Mangles, transcription of letter from Georgiana Molloy to James Mangles, June 1840 

Ed. Bernice Barry, Georgiana Molloy: the mind that shines (Sydney: Picador, 2016) 


Madame Veilburn unmasked

More musical sidelights to Don and Ian Wilkey's family history research! They have now kindly posted here their research into the life and career of Jane Williamson, a Sydney dancing instructor of the later 1830s, who took to the stage as a theatrical dancer and actor in 1840 as Madame Veilburn.

The pdf will be permanently available for download at the main entry Jane Williamson - Madame Veilburn

But for the moment, you can also download it directly here: 


Edward Myers, forger, convict, musician, and a founder of Cairns Hospital

Dr. Ian Wilkey, of Brisbane, came across Myers while doing some historical research into the records of the Queensland Medical Board, and decided to pursue him. He has created a user tag Myers Edward inside TROVE, and has also kindly shared with Australharmony this summary of his ongoing research:

According to Myers's death certificate his parents were Michael and Leah Myers, his father variously described as a merchant, magistrate, and high sheriff. Edward had poliomyelitis as an infant which left him "crippled" and he used walking sticks from childhood. References to his physical handicap and his use of sticks are documented in Sydney in the 1840s, Hobart in 1851, Sydney in 1861, and in North Queensland where he was known as "Old Sticks" . . . Read more


Trove and the case for radical openness

Read Hugh Rundle's important article, from Overland, in support of Trove.

Conservative governments around the world are increasingly antagonistic to libraries. In 2013 the Harper government in Canada introduced a new wide-ranging code of conduct for Libraries and Archives Canada employees, emphasising their "duty of loyalty" to the "duly elected government" and restrictions on involvement with criticism of Canada's leadership. In the UK, hundreds of local public libraries have been closed or forced to run entirely on volunteer staff after savage cuts to local government funding. Meanwhile, in the United States, the Librarian of Congress, James Billington, spent twenty-eight years delaying all progress in the organization . . . The National Library of Australia's great sin was to create a service built on the "moral choice" of radical openness . . . 


New review article finally published in the latest Musicology Australia, in honour of Thérèse Radic on her eightieth birthday

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney)

"The invention of Australian music"

Musicology Australia 37/2 (2015), 289-306; published online 8 March 2016

Special issue: Kaye Dreyfus and Kerry Murphy (eds), Essays in honour of Thérèse Radic on her eightieth birthday 


Trove - essential national research infrastructure

Some new or recent public tags, curated in TROVE by Australharmony:

Sydney Amateur Concerts (1826) 

John Edwards, music master, violinist 

Thomas Kavanagh, bandmaster, violinist, clarinettist, composer 

Joseph Reichenberg (d. Hobart, 1851), bandmaster, music master, clarinettist, composer

George Sippe (d. Sydney, 1842), bandmaster, hotelier, cellist, music teacher, composer 

Maria Logan (1808-1886), pianist and music teacher 

George Hudson (d. Sydney, 1854), musician, bandmaster, music seller and publisher 

Music at the Garden Palace (Sydney, 1879-80) 


A new dedicated page on

Maria Hinckesman, pianist, composer

New and updated entries in the biographical register:

Florentine Dudemaine, who as Madame Farrelly ran a popular social dancing venue in 1850s Sydney

George Oswald Rutter, amateur musician, composer, conductor, lawyer

Alfred Jackson Dentith, pupil of Michael Costa; Dentith, who came to Tasmania in 1854 was a leading Hobart musician for over 60 years

And Dentith's pianist-composer daughter Mary, Mrs. A. H. Bowden

(In Launceston, Mary Bowden taught Marjorie Allen, who in turn taught Peter Sculthorpe)

POSTED 19 - 23 JANUARY 2016

New and updated entries in the biographical register:

William Campbell (c. 1860), professor of dancing

Herr and Madame Glogoski of the Buckingham Family troupe

Clara Hamilton, "the Scottish vocalist", who lived in Australia from 1880 until 1894

Henry Hunicke

James Hunter and Thomas Brooks Hunter

Alfred Mortimer Nesbitt (1854-1926), mathematician and composer

Hermann Nettelbeck (1839-1918), president of the Adelaide Liedertafel

Michael Joseph Somers (aka Joe Somers), pianist and entertainer

Adolphus Frederick Spiller

Laura Vosper, a much respected music teacher in 1880s Goulburn, whose life and career was sadly overshadowed by domestic violence

And a new dedicated page:

Broadwood pianos in early colonial Australia


Currency Lasses finally found?

Last year in my New Year's Day 2015 post (see below), I shared news of a recent musical discovery, A New-South-Wales Song, as of this date the earliest surviving printed edition of Australian music, and - fittingly, I believe - a transcription of the words, rhythm and melody an Indigenous song.

This year, thanks to the kindness of its owner, my New Year's report introduces another very exciting find, a copy of a hitherto unknown London sheet music print Currency Lasses, an admired Australian quadrille, composed by a lady at Sydney, and perform'd there with great success by the Bands of the 3rd (or Buffs), 39th and 57th Regiments.

Strong circumstantial evidence points to the music dating from c.1825, and links it and the likely "lady" composer, Tempest Margaret Paul, with Thomas Kavanagh, master of the Buffs' Band. This printed scoring for piano is very probably a version of the Currency Lasses advertised by Kavanagh in his noted lost collection of Original Australian Music in January 1826. Paul played a starring role in the pioneering Sydney Amateur Concerts in 1826, in which Kavanagh was also a leading participant. During the series she notably performed Arne's soprano bravura The Soldier Tir'd, and gave the first Australian public performance of a recent London hit, Bishop's Home, sweet home, leading one newspaper to describe her as "the Catalani of Australia".

To see and hear the complete music, and to read more about the finds, and about Paul and her musical family, go to the main page

Tempest Paul and Currency Lasses.


This morning finished a task that has occupied me for much of the last month, namely adding to the checklists song and dance data from the Tasmanian journals of George Augustus Robinson for the years 1830-34, from Brian Plomley's Friendly mission (1966). 

Next task is to do likewise for the Plomley and Clark's editions of the later Tasmanian and Victorian journals respectively.


The invention of Australian music

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney)

"The invention of Australian music"

Paper presented at the Musicological Society of Australia 2015 Conference, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney

11.30am Thursday 1 October 2015 


Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney)

"The invention of Australian music"

Musicology Australia 37/2 (2015) 

By reconsidering a selection of key documents and artefacts, this review article traces a kind of 'brief history of early colonial Australia in nine musical objects'. Composed, devised, improvised, and merely imagined 'works', each is identifiable in some way as Australian. They are presented roughly chronologically, and include complete and partial survivals, and records of lost works; Indigenous and settler; gentry and working class; musicians' music and some non-musicians' music; most by men, but - when the documentary record admits them - quite a few by, for, or about women. Each is offered as an early example of an ongoing stream in Australian colonial music, and a useful historical paradigm/pattern for parsing clusters of related later materials, a range of which are also briefly introduced. Demonstrating the ongoing process of musical and national invention from the 1770s into the 1840s, they challenge us to re-engage with 'the muddy issues of Australianness', and suggest that acts of cultural naming, claiming, and owning are not necessarily so superficial or nationalistically problematic as they are often assumed to be.

Website support materials for both of the above

The invention of Australian music online

Recent site updates


Chronicle of music from 1811 to 1820


John Onions

Worgan family in Australia and New Zealand


Chronicle of music from 1801 to 1810

Eliza and James Bushelle and family

John Christopher Croft

James Aquinas Reid and family


Edward and Kate Boulanger


The bibliography page grew into too large a document for my html editor to handle with ease, and so I have now split it in two:

Bibliography to 1900

Bibliography 1901 to present

The new Chronicle of music from earliest contacts to 1800 is the first result-in-progress to be posted of an ongoing project to chronicle all documentary references to music in Australia up to the end of 1820

A longer term plan is to move major and larger entries currently in the alphabetical Biographical register pages to their own dedicated pages.

Main entries so far moved, or in the process of being moved, are

Alfred Cox

Charles Darwin

Maria and Bessie Gray

George Henry Peck and family

Narcisse Pelletier


A New-South-Wales Song
A New-South-Wales Song

For more on this newly identified source, see

Checklist of colonial musical transcriptions of Indigenous songs 4


Site history

Graeme Skinner is the author and curator of this online resource on music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia.

Australharmony was built on content previously presented in Graeme's 2011 doctoral thesis.

The resource was first launched in January 2012, on Graeme's professional website, and built and regularly updated since then.

From 1 July 2014, it is published by PARADISEC, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney.

Australharmony is regularly updated as an open source report on ongoing research, work-in-progress toward the history of music, musicians, and audiences - Indigenous, settler, and visitor - in colonial Australia.

It contains records of music from the earliest documented contacts between Indigenous Australians and outsiders, especially between British colonisation in 1788 and Federation in 1901, while also continuing to follow colonial music and musicians into the 20th and 21st centuries.

By providing links to a mass of online content, Australharmony is also a virtual anthology of Australian colonial music and documentation.

Why "Australharmony"?

The colonist, judge, natural philosopher, and wit Barron Field was the first person to go into print attaching the epithet "Australian" to a piece of music.

Click here for his 1823 transcription of an Australian national melody.

Barron Field was the first Australian poet to issue a small printed collection of his own work, First fruits of Australian Poetry, the first edition of which appeared in Sydney in 1819.

the collection is best remembered now for its second poem, The Kangaroo.

But also of interest, Field clearly intended the epigraph on his titlepage as a challenge to posterity:

I first adventure. Follow me who list;
And be the second Austral Harmonist.

Australharmony in TROVE

Australharmony also curates an already large and growing set of tagged resources inside Trove.

Clicking here or selecting the Australian colonial music tag inside Trove gives instant access to:

A virtual anthology of over 1600 Australian colonial musical compositions and arrangements under Music, sound and video

Over 6500 relevant press articles and advertisements under Digitised newspapers and more

Over 450 books and 250 articles on Australian colonial music under Books and Journals, articles and data sets

Grouped resources on over 200 musicians and composers under People and organisations

Over 500 images of colonial composers, musicians, and instruments under Pictures, photos, objects

You can then use Trove's powerful search functions to locate materials on specific subjects within the Australian colonial music virtual archive.

Exemplifying use of [TROVE], musicologist Graeme Skinner has written a definitive history of Australian colonial music, cross-checking all known holdings with citations and advertisements of Australian compositions in colonial newspapers and other sources. He has identified a comprehensive and accurately-dated list of 410 known Australian works composed between 1788 and 1860, of which Australian libraries hold 73% or 297 works. Of these, 204 are held at the National Library. His index is enabling the Library to update both catalogue records and authority records, as well as to add or modify biographical records of Australian composers or performers in Music Australia/Trove (each with a unique people or 'party' identifier that links the people to the works they created). The Library also now has an improved desiderata list that may yet elicit rare surviving copies from around the world.

Robyn Holmes, "Music at the National Library of Australia", Fontes artis musicae 58/3 (July-September 2011), 218

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Though the site is published and maintained on University of Sydney servers, the research presented is carried out without any other institutional, public or private funding support

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This is a not-for-profit non-commercial site, and it contains transcriptions of much printed material and many digitised images and soundbytes of originals that are out of copyright. We acknowledge in each case the source of the material or image by providing a live URL to the original source of its web publication, or other citation in the usual way.

Fair use excerpts from copyright materials are also occasionally reproduced here, and otherwise wherever necessary explicit permissions have been sought.

Australharmony claims copyright over the editorial content and compilation. No one may, under any circumstances, reproduce the whole of any component page of this site. However, subject to fair use, we actively encourage you, as an open resource, to constructively reuse material from these pages in your own research and writing. Nevertheless, it is your responsibility to cite Australharmony as a source, in exactly the same way as you would cite a printed published work.

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2017