THIS PAGE LAST MODIFIED Friday 17 February 2017 10:47


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 Bibliographic 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)


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: 

The main purpose of the page 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 reformated 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 public tag)

George Gordonovitch (TROVE public tag)


New pages . . . and new Trove tags

New page

Leopold Rawack (Ravac) and Amalia Rawack (TROVE public tag)

Leopold Rawack, violinist, shipping agent, and merchant, Sydney, 1846-73 (TROVE public tag)

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

New page

James Waller (1819-1871), musical amateur, and family (TROVE public tag)

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

"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 public tag)

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

Calling for help and information

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

Contact the curator at


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