THIS PAGE LAST MODIFIED : Tuesday 12 December 2017 15:09

A register of Australian colonial musical personnel–Organisations A-Z

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "A register of Australian colonial musical personnel–Organisations A-Z", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 16 December 2017

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Adelaide Choral Society

Adelaide, SA, from c.1841 (TROVE public tag)

Adelaide Regimental Band

Australian Harmonic Club

(also occasionally Australian Harmonic Society)

Sydney, NSW, 1841-47 

Australian Harmonic Society

Sydney, NSW, 1833-34 

Australian Philharmonic Concerts

Sydney, 1844 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

Austrian Strauss Band

Orchestra and military band

Touring October 1880 - Melbourne International Exhibition - August 1881 (thereafter NZ) (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

WILDNER, Alois F. (bandmaster/conductor, until January 1881)

BRAUN, Herr (bandmaster/conductor, thereafter)


This was the first professional European orchestra to be heard in Australasia, and drew large, and in some case huge, audiences especially to its outdoor concerts in band formation. A number of members of the band remained in, or returned to, Australia. After the band's appearances at the Melbourne Exhibition, Wildner sued the Austrian consul for non payment of a fee and left Australia early in 1881. He was replaced by Herr Braun as bandmaster/conductor.


"THE AUSTRIAN STRAUSS BAND", The Argus (11 October 1880), 6

1880-10-11: It is not likely that at any previous time in any place was there such a great gathering of people drawn together for the purpose of hearing a band play as there was on the lawn at Flemington Racecourse on Saturday after- noon, when the eagerly-expected Austrian Strauss Band made its first appearance. ... Thus there were 15,000 persons present to hear some 47 players from Vienna, and the circumstance, we think, is unique in the annals of music. [... ] His Excellency the Governor arrived punctually, having with him the Marchioness of Normanby, and accompanied by Sir William and Lady Jervois and family, and attended by Lord Hervey Phipps and Captain Le Patourel. The band marched to the platform erected for them in the middle of the terrace overhanging the lawn, and the National Anthem was played. The concert included the following pieces, namely:- 1. March from "Le Prophète", Meyerbeer; 2. "Kronprintzen", march, by Zichrer; 3. "Thousand and One Nights" waltz, by J Strauss; 4. Cavatina, " Una voce", from "Il Barbiere" by Rossini; 5. "Panofsky" march, by Leibold; 6. "Ardent Love", French polka, by J. Strauss; 7. "Festival Overture", by Foroi, encored with acclamation, and replaced with the "Radetzky" march; 8. the "Wedding March", by Mendelssohn; 9. prelude and quartet from Verdi's "Rigoletto"; 10. "Chorus of Pages'' and finale, from Offenbach's "Princess of Trebizonde"; 11. "The Flemington March", composed by Herr F. A. Wildner, the conductor of the band, and encored with great emphasis. The National Anthem was played on the retirement of His Excellency and party. The Austrian Hymn was played after the last encore, and "God save the Queen" was given once more to conclude the concert. ... When the members shall all of them have appeared, whether en militaire or en grand orchestre, their names and functions will be found to be as follow: - F. A. Wildner, conductor; Herren Kmoch, first violin, trumpet, bass cornet (soloist); Schuster, first violin; Braun, first violin, euphonium (soloist); Francik, first violin; Raim Pechotz, first violin, helicon; Tauschik, jun., first violin, clarinet; Kohaut, first violin; Weingartner, first violin; Canbalik, first violin; Gluckmann, first violin, flute; Tauschik, sen, second violin, clarinet; Naumann, second violin; Kratchovil, second violin, bass cornet; Scheibeira, second violin, trumpet; Hage, second violin; Schebetofsky, second violin, trumpet, French horn; Schwab, viola, clarinet; Unzeitig, viola, cornet (soloist); Schaffer, viola, cornet-a-pistons; Patek, cello cello (soloist); Wilczek, cello, clarinet (soloist); Pleyer, contra-base, helicon; A. Pechotz, contra-bass, trumpet; Tuschka, violin, viola, cello, contra-bass (soloist and band secretary); R. Pechotsch, contra-bass, trumpet; Kell, flute, piccolo (soloist); Zeomak, piccolo, flute, trumpet, bass comet; Flämisch, oboe, flute, piccolo, clarinet (soloist); Dworscbatschek, oboe, clarinet (soloist); Andreovitch, fagotto, violin, timbura (soloist); Czizek, fagotto, bass cornet; Kotracek, clarinet (soloist) ; Prager, clarinet; Tellinck, clarinet, horn; Kurh, French horn; Brabetz, French horn (soloist); Schandl, French horn; Landauer, French horn; Tischbach, trumpet, cornet-a-pistons; Kautnak, trumpet (soloist); Zeemann, trumpet, contra-bass, cornet (soloist); Wolf, trumpet, violin; Wladika, trombone; Ambler, trombone; Koschka, trombone, euphonium; Richa, bombardon; Leder and Kozak, instruments of percussion; Saxberger, harp (soloist) ; Muller, clarinet, oboe; Probasky, clarinet; Prczibram, clarinet, trumpet; Fokal, helicon. The four last named were left behind at the Cape, and are to follow. The orchestral band to-night at the Town-hall will consist of 45 players.

"THE DOG SHOW", The Mercury (17 January 1881), 3

... The playing of the Austrian Strauss Band was very much enjoyed, especially by the little crowd of musical enthusiasts, who formed another circle close around that of the performers. This was the first appearance of the band in its military form, and consequently their doings were watched with interest. They appeared in uniform, the undress of the Austrian army, to which all but one or two belong. Even in their military capacity our visitors are entitled to our respect, as few of them but are the possessors of one medal, while others have two, and some even three medals for service in as many wars. These wars were that of 1859, against the French and Italians; 1864 against the Danes - the Schleswig Holstein question ; and 1866 against the Prussians. The elderly flute player dates even further back - as far as 1854- to the Crimean war, when he waited with the Austrian army in Roumelia, though eventually not engaged, while Mr. Heller has recently seen service in Bosnia. Their playing as a Military Band was marked with the same skill and precision which accompanies their orchestration, though the rude wind sometimes worried the music sheets terribly.

"THE AUSTRIAN STRAUSS BAND", The Sydney Morning Herald (24 January 1881), 6

Ballarat Philharmonic Society

Ballarat, VIC


"BALLARAT PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY", Armagh Guardian [Ireland] (17 September 1858), 8

The first two Concerts have been complete triumphs, and they have now established themselves as a society in every way worthy of the patronage and support of the Ballarat public. The music selected was Handel's Messiah. After the Overture to the Oratoria, exceedingly well played by the band under the direction of Mr. Turner, Mr. Williams, a gentleman amateur from Melbourne, sang the recitativ "Comfort ye my People," and the air "Every valley," in a style which gave good earnest of the excellent manner in which the solos were to performed. With a fine tenor voice, this gentleman possesses an excellent taste, and gives evidence of good and careful study. In the second part he sang the recitative "Thy rebuke," and the air "Behold and see," which drew down the well deserved plaudits of the house. Mrs. Hancock sang the solos entrusted to her in her usual correct and finished style. Her rendering of the air "O luce di quest anima," from the opera "Linda di Chamonni," made it one of the sweetest morceaux in the evening's entertainments. Mrs. Turner sang with great taste the airs "Oh thou that tellest," "Rejoice greatly," "He was despised," &c. Dr. Kupferberg has very fine baratune voice, and his exquisite rendering the recitative "For behold darkness," and the air "The people who walked in darkness," showed him to be a perfect master of the vocal art. Mrs. Moss's singing in "But thou didst not leave," it would impossible to speak too highly. It is exceedingly gratifying that we have in Ballarat lady who can sing admirably, and we anticipate having many more opportunities of hearing her sweet voice. Mr. Hancock sang well throughout, but "The trumpet shall sound," perhaps owing to the excellent Cornet obligato, played Mr. Labalestrier, was uuquestionably his best effort. Last, but not least, of the soloists, Mr. Oliver, the active secretary of the society, sang Handel's "Haste thee Nymph," in excellent style. The Cborusses throughout were admirably given, and grdat credit is due to the director Mr. Austin T. Turner, and to the leaders Messrs. Fleury, and Paltzer, for the complete manner in which the musical portion was conducted. We particularly noticed the admirable playing of the selections from Herolds's "Pre aux clercs," the Orchestra.

Bathurst Philharmonic Society

Bathurst, NSW


"Philharmonic Society's Concert", Bathurst Free Press (17 April 1866), 3

This first concert of the Bathurst Philharmonic Society was a very successful affair, and we trust that it is but the first of a long series. We have frequently had reason to deplore the apathy with regard to musical matters existing in Bathurst, and an indifference manifested by the public toward first class music Mr. Cox and the members of the Bathurst Philharmonic Society are to be congratulated for their strenuous efforts to redeem our city from the reproaoh lately uttered by an eminent Sydney musician. The orchestra was composed as follows : - Mr. W. P. Cox, first violin and conductor; Messrs. Adams, Dowse and MacDougal, first violin; Messrs. Baldwin, Denis, Havenhand, Richardson and Smith, second violin; Mr. Dryden, viola; Mr. Hudson, violincello; Mr. Atkins, double bass; Messrs. Cope and Toovey, cornets. Valuable assistance was also rendered by Messrs. Code and Mills, who had come specially from Sydney, and who undertook respectively the flute and clarionet parts ...

Brisbane Choral Society

Brunswick Band (Brunswick Brass Band; Schrader's Brunswick Band; Schrader's Band)

Active Adelaide, SA, by 1857-66


"THE BRUNSWICK BAND", South Australian Register (2 November 1857), 3

[Advertisement], South Australian Register (6 December 1858), 1

THE BRUNSWICK BAND having fulfilled their engagement at the Theatre, will now be able to provide Brass or String Bands for Balls, Dinners, Picnics, &c. Apply to Mr. Shrader [Schrader], Pulteney-street; Mr. Heydecke, Rundle-street Kent Town; or R. White, Ward-street, North Adelaide.

"GRAND CONCERT AT THE GAWLER INSTITUTE", The South Australian Advertiser (14 December 1859), 3

"GAWLER INSTITUTE", South Australian Register (14 December 1859), 3

... At a later period in the evening the air [Song of Australia] was presented to the audience under other forms, as arranged by Herr Linger. These were a fantasia for the pianoforte, which was executed by Miss Rowe in as brilliant a style as could possibly be expected, seeing that the instrument was a cottage piano of second-rate tone, and which was evidently out of tune; and a somewhat novel arrangement for the full band of the national airs of various countries. The latter commenced with Old England's "God save the Queen" followed by the recognised national anthems of Prussia, Russia, France, Italy, Holstein, Austria, Holland, and Belgium, with our own, "There is a Land" as the finale. In the last, as in the first, the audience rose en masse and remained standing during its performance.

"TOPICS OF THE WEEK", South Australian Weekly Chronicle (8 December 1866), 4s

Burton's Band (Henry Burton's Circus)

Active by 1852 and until 1871


"MUDGEE", The Sydney Morning Herald (15 May 1852), 3

Mr. Burton's band ably performed their part as musicians, relieved occasionally by some of the ladies, who sung, and played upon the piano to admiration. Mr. Nathan, from Sydney, likewise played and sung to the great delight of the company.

"MOUNT BARKER: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4", South Australian Register (7 November 1856), 3

Jacob Young, Jacob Düne, Conrad Sander, Heinrich Rodenbout, Carl Leonhardt, Daniel Miller, and Christian Prothenback, known as "Burton's Band", appeared to answer the complaint of Mr. Henry Burton, for that they, having contracted to serve the said Henry Burton as musicians, and having entered into his service, did neglect and refuse to fulfil the same. Henry Burton, sworn, said the defendants, who had played for him in Victoria, were engaged by his agent to play for him in Adelaide and South Australia at £16 per week, their own terms (agreement put in and acknowledged). That the day before the Circus left Port Adelaide, after they had received their week's wages, £16 (receipt put in), they said they would not go into the country with witness, unless he paid them £3 per week extra ...

"MOUNT BARKER: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5", South Australian Register (7 November 1856), 3

The same persons appeared to answer another charge preferred against them by Mr. Burton, for having, on the night of the 4th instant been guilty of gross misconduct in the execution of their duty, and for having, on the morning of the 5th, refused to obey the orders of Mr. Burton. It appeared that immediately after the decision of yesterday, they had broken the music-stands, and at the night performance had played most unsuitable, inferior, and discordant music, and had resorted to every possible means of annoyance, and that this morning they had refused to come from their inn to the stables to take their seats in the van for the purpose of proceeding to Macclesfield, whither the establishment is removing. The charge was clearly proved against them, and the Bench ordered them to be committed to Gaol for a month. Mr. Burton told the Bench he was dis posed to try them again if they would apologize to him for their improper conduct, and again promise attention to their duties, but the Bench thought they could listen to no proposal for compromise after the evident contumacy of the defendants. A warrant of commitment was therefore made out and signed, and the refractory musicians were forthwith sent off to Gaol in charge of a police-trooper.


Captain Piper's band of music (Captain Piper's Band; Piper's Band)

Sydney, NSW, and Bathurst, NSW, c.1823-47's+Band (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

Cecilian Society

Sydney, NSW, 1838-42 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

City Band (Sydney 1840ss)

Sydney, NSW, 1840s (bandmaster George HUDSON)

City Band (Sydney 1880s)

Sydney, inagurated 1883 (bandmaster Sebastian Hodge)


"Music and the Drama", Australian Town and Country Journal (28 April 1883), 13: [lists players and instruments]

Collingwood Harmonic Society

Active Collingwood, VIC, 1857-59 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

Hobart Town Choral Society

Hobart, VDL (TAS), c.1844-50 (TROVE public tag)

Lyster's Royal Italian and English Opera Company

Active 1860s


[Advertisement], The Argus (3 May 1864), 8 

ROYAL HAYMARKET THEATRE. Stage Manager, Mr. W. Lloyd. FAREWELL SEASON. Under the Patronage of His Excellency the Governor and Lady Darling. Director, Mr. W. S. Lyster. The Director has the honour to announce that he has made arrangements to give a Farewell Season of 48 nights, at the above theatre, in which he has spared no expense to make the representations the most perfect ever given in Melbourne. The following celebrated artistes are engaged:-


THE BAND. First Violins: Mr. F. Coppin, Herr Hermann, Mr. E. King, Mr. Levey; Second Violins: Mr. F. Benson, Mr. Jager. Viola: Herr Wederman; Contra Bassos: Mr. Brown, Mr. Gover; Cello: Mr. Hart; Flute: Mr. Creed Royal; Clarionettes: Herr Luneberg, Mr. Ford; Bassoon: Mr. McCoy; Oboe: Mr. Schott; Horns: Herr Kohler; Mr. Versoe; Cornet: Mr. Richardson; Trombone: Mr. S. Hore; Drums: Mr. Gorman. Musical Director and Conductor, Mr. G. LODER.

THE CHORUS: First Sopranos: Mrs. Andrews, Miss Watson, Mrs. Oldman, Miss Gregory; Second Sopranos: Mrs. Benham, Mrs. Gladstone; Altos: Mrs. Marks, Mrs. Younghusband; First Tenors: Mr. Baker, Mr. H. Beaumont, Mr. Benham, Herr Lulves; Second Tenors: Herr Sprinckham, Mr. Ramsden, Herr Bachrach. First Basses: Mr. Christen, Mr. Stockmeyer, Mr. Nathanson, Herr Hermes; Second Basses: Mr. H. Benham, Mr. Kaible, Signor Roncoveri, Mr. Levison; Scenic Artists: Messrs. Fry and Murphy; Machinist, Mr. Renno; Property Master, Mr. Dennis; Costumiere, Madame Jagar.

[Advertisement], South Australian Register (15 September 1865), 1

[Advertisement], The Argus (22 December 1865), 8  

Melbourne Amateur Concerts

Melbourne, NSW (VIC), 1840-41 (TROVE public tag)

Melbourne Centennial Exhibition Orchestra (Centennial Orchestra)

Active July 1888-January 1889 (February 1889) (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


"THE ORCHESTRA", The Argus (2 August 1888), 5s

Diary of programs and reviews

... 14 first violins, played by Messrs. G. Weston (leader), M. Klein, Schrader, Wenzel, Sutch, Dierich, [Dietrich?] Schmellitscheck, Wallenstein, Phillips, Silvester, Casiraghi, Thompson, Algers, and Iverson; 12 second violins, played by Messrs. Buttery, Conolly, Robins, Kruse, Hunter, Wilson, A. C. Quin, Hess, jun., L. Quin, Busch, Hornidge, jun., and Stevens; 6 violas, by Messrs. Meyroos, Bima, Oettmer, Mortimer, Edwards, and Draeger; 6 violoncellos, by Messrs Liebe, Reimers, Patek, Harrison, Jeboult, and Frayling; 6 contra bassos, by Messrs. Ceschina, Winterbottom, Brown, jun., Briese, Peters, and Pikroh; 2 flutes, by Messrs. H. Stoneham and Burroughs; 1 piccolo, Mr. Kerr; 2 oboes, Messrs. Morton and Thomson (the Cor Anglais is included); two clarinets (bass clarinet included), Messrs. Lundborg and Grainger; two bassoons, Messrs, Langdale and Wakefield; four horns, Messrs. Lawson, Seymour, Flewin, and Mayby; two cornets, Messrs. Rawlins and Richardson; one trumpet, Mr. Warnecke; three trombones, Messrs. Worsley, Stoneham and S. Hore; one tuba, Mr. Berg; timpani, Mr. Munyard; Grosse Caisse, Mr. Twentyman; cymbale, Mr. Stoneham, jun.; one harp, Mr. Barker; organ, Mr. G. Peake; total, 69 performers, power being given to Mr. F. H. Cowen, the conductor, to employ some extra instruments where special need arises.

Go to Centennial orchestra main pages: 

Melbourne Philharmonic Society

Founded Melbourne, VIC, 1854


"THE ORATORIO", The Argus (17 April 1856), 5

Had Messrs. G. Holmes and Co. contracted to remove the Pyramids and to re-erect them upon Batman's swamp we should scarcely have anticipated a more doubtful success for the undertaking than we did for the performance of Spohr's Oratorio The Last Judgment by the Philharmonic Society. The proper rendering of this oratorio requires a power of orchestra and chorus far beyond the ability of this society to furnish, and, exaggerated as the comparative case of difficulty which we have set up may at first appear, the hyperbole is not so extravagant when the peculiar requirements of Spohr's great work are considered. The subtle harmonies and elaborately-constructed orchestration relied upon by the composer to give the descriptive effects which his subject demands, can only be completely realised by an orchestra perfect in every department, and the choral pieces demand an equal completeness in each of the vocal divisions. Whatever may be the general opinion as to the intrinsic merit of the work as one of high musical art, or of the success of the composer in the illustrations he has given of his awful subject, there can be but one upon the absolute necessity, in order to give the faintest idea of the character of this extraordinary composition, of rendering it with the full effect demanded by the score. If the Melbourne Philharmonic Society have failed where the Sacred Harmonic Society of London have seldom or never triumphed, the former can hardly be accused of their ambition being greatly in excess of their merit ...

Minstrelsy of the West



[Advertisement], The Argus (22 May 1861), 8: [orchestra list]


August 1864: The extensive improvements in the reconstruction and decoration of this theatre are now all but completed, and the house will be quite ready for the opening night tomorrow, when Lady Don makes her first appearance since her return from Europe [...] The orchestra - so important a component part of a theatre with the future specialty of the Haymarket - is well selected, and will consist of the following performers: -First violins, Mr. F. Coppin and M. Zeplin; second violin, Mr. Bentley; violoncello, Mr. F. Howson, jun.; flute, Mr. Creed Royal; cornet, Mr. Richardson ; viola, Mr. J. Howson, jun.; double bass, Mr. Gover ; clarionet, Herr Faure; trombone, Mr. S. Hore; tympanes, Mr. Gorman; leader, Mr. Fred. Coppin; operatic conductor, Mr. Frank Howson, jun.


"THE NEW HAYMARKET THEATRE", The Argus (5 August 1864), 7:

New Norcia Abbey

New Queen's Theatre

1848: The Orchestral Department will be considerably augmented, and consist of - Mr. Lee (leader), Mr. Richards (se cond yiolin), Mr. Thomson (violincello), Mr. Poltridge (cornet-a-piston), Mr. Hewitt (trombone), Mr. Swift (tenor), Mr. Kaebet (master of the German Band, flute)


"NEW QUEEN's THEATRE", South Australian (18 February 1848), 2:

North Adelaide Choral Society

(1) Active Norwood, SA, 1861-62
(2) Active Norwood, SA, 1884-86

References (1): "NORWOOD PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY", The South Australian Advertiser (9 February 1861), 2:

[Advertisement], The South Australian Advertiser (18 July 1861), 1:

"THE NORWOOD PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY", The South Australian Advertiser (20 July 1861), 2:

"NORWOOD PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY", South Australian Register (22 July 1861), 3:

"NORWOOD PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY", The South Australian Advertiser (22 October 1861), 3:

"NORWOOD PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY", South Australian Register (19 February 1862), 2:

References (2): 

"NORWOOD PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY", South Australian Register (19 June 1884), 5

Associations (1): B. T. Finnis (president 1861), Chapman, C. H. Compton (conductors)  


1850: "MUSIC HATH CHARMS." - So says the poet, and truly never was this saying more clearly demonstrated than on Thuraday last at the Parramatta Lunatic Asylum. A respectable person, who is particularly skilful in playing the flutina, called to see the Superintendent, and the latter gentleman (from knowing well the habits and disposition of the lunatics) requested his friend to play them a few tunes. The music had an indescribably pleasing effect, and would have gladdened the least sensitive heart. It was first tried upon the male lunatics, who, one and all, were immediately softened and animated; some clapped their hands, others imitated the flute, the clarionet, the cymbals, and the tambourine ; whilst some, in an ecstacy of joy, danced most manfully ; and what more than all proved the good effect of this procedure, no symptom of viciousness manifested itself. The amusement was next tried upon the females, and produced a similar effect; they sang for joy; there was one poor creature especially, who had been confined by a strait waistcoat, showed such an amount of pleasure that Mr. Statham had the waistcoat taken off, and she danced beautifully. The effect, without exception, was singularly good.


"MUSIC HATH CHARMS", The Sydney Morning Herald (9 December 1850), 2:



"CHURCH MUSIC. TO THE EDITOR", The Argus (13 July 1859), 1

The church of the Foundling Hospital in London, and the Penitentiary Church, Hobart Town, may be adduced as well-known instances of the powerful attraction of music, being usually crowded, while the cathedrals are, in comparison, thinly attended. But these instances, striking as they are, would not bear out the recommendation of a church choir for mere concert or oratorio exhibition, and certainly not in any way calculated to increase devotional feelings when rendered lifeless or Ianguid from other causes.

People's Vocal Music Association

Sydney, 1859-64's+Vocal+Music+Association (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

Active Picton NSW, 1860-63

1860: The Picton Choral Society, a local institution (on which, by the way, I fear that the gods have bestowed the gift of music more liberally than that of good sense), have for some time been at variance with their clergyman on the subject of singing anthems in the church, the consequence of which is that the service on Sunday has become the ring where the rival parties test their strength. I understand there is something to be said on both aides; and would not notice it here, but most heartily leave the reverend and very irreverent disputants to say that something, were it not that numbers of people come a considerable distance, Sabbath after Sabbath, and find the "sanctuary defiled, God dishonoured, and the sacrifice made of none effect."


"PICTON", Empire (7 July 1860), 5:

"TO THE EDITOR", Empire (14 July 1860), 5:

"TO THE EDITOR", Empire (23 July 1860), 5:

"PICTON CHURCH. TO THE EDITOR", The Sydney Morning Herald (25 July 1860), 3:

[Advertisement], Empire (26 June 1861), 1:

"PICTON CHORAL SOCIETY", Bell's Life in Sydney (2 May 1863), 3:

"PICTON", Bell's Life in Sydney (18 July 1863), 3:


Prahran Mechanics Institute
Prahran Town Hall


Sydney, NSW

 1872: The orchestra left behind them on the Friday night, so as to be in readiness for the mid-day performance of the Pantomime intended for Saturday, the whole of their musical instruments, many of them of much value. These articles have been totally consumed in the destruction of the Opera House. Mr. Walter Rice, the leader of the orchestra has also, through the calamity, lost a valuable collection of manuscript music.



Sydney, NSW

September 1842: The following are the members of the Corps Dramatique, for the season:- Messrs. Nesbitt, Knowles, Fenton, Jones, Peat, Lee, Chambers, Collins, Simes, Dibden, and Grove; Mesdames. O'Flaherty, Thomson, Knowles, Larra, and Wallace; two Misses Jones, Miss Thompson, and 6 from England. The Orchestra: Mr. [S.] W. Wallace; Mr. Wallace, sen. Mr. Leggatt; Mr. Deane; Messrs. Deane, Portbury [sic], Walton, O'Flaherty, Pappin, Downes, and Weston; also Mr. Gibbs, from England, who is expected daily by the Trial.

Company & orchestra lists:

1842: "Theatricals", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (17 September 1842), 2:

1854: [Advertisement], Empire (25 August 1854), 1:

[Advertisement], Bell's Life in Sydney (26 August 1854), 3:

ST. JOSEPH'S BAND (Launceston)
Formed Launceston, July 1845
First master, John Agnew (96th Regiment)

1895: On Monday, 22nd inst., the members of St. Joseph's Band will celebrate the jubilee of the organisation with a fancy dress ball in the Albert Hall. [... ] St. Joseph's Band was formed in July, 1845, in connection with St. Joseph's Total Abstinence Society, and may therefore be said to be the oldest association of its character in the colonies. The original members met for the sake of a pleasure able diversion as well as for the purpose of becoming useful as a band of musicians. So thorough has been the spirit of earnest ness that the band is, after an existence of half a century, regarded - and justly regarded - as a musical organisation of which the city should be proud. The members have followed the study of music under proper direction, and by their efforts have been able to do good in an effectual and extensive manner, the work of alleviating distress having formed one of the chief features in the history of the band. The first bandmaster was the late Mr. John Agnew, of the 96th Regiment, and the original members were Messrs Charles Galvin, John McKenzie, William Mainsbridge, Andrew Skate, Arthur McIver, Francis McIver, Morgan O' Meara, William O' Meara, David O' Keefe, Thomas Keogh, Thomas Leary, John Murphy, and Bernard Lynch. Ten of these early players are dead, the only surviving members of the original band being Messrs Morgan O' Meara, who is now in New Zealand; David O' Keefe, at present in Victoria; and Thomas Leary, who is carrying on business as a chemist in Victoria. Mr. Joseph Galvin, one of the early members, is still an officer in the band. When Mr. Agnew left with his regiment for India he was succeeded by Mr. Michael Dillan, solo clarionet player of the 96th Regiment band, and after him Mr. Drum-Major Allen, who had retired from the 96th Regiment and remained at Launceston. Mr. Allen was the father of Mr. C. W. Allen, a member of the present Westbury Council. He was succeeded by the late Mr. Charles Galvin, one of the founders of the institution, who always took a warm interest in its progress until the date of his death a short time ago. Mr Galvin was band master until Mr John McGuire was ap pointed, and the latter, who was a good clarionet player, continued for some time to lead the members to a higher state of musical excellence.

1945: THE FORMATION OF ST. JOSEPH'S BAND was the outcome of a temperance campaign conducted at Launceston by the Irish apostle of temperance, Theobold Mathew, at St. Joseph's Church, then on a site near that of the existing Church of the Apostles. Mathew, who was known as the Rev. Father Mathew, formed the St. John's Total Abstinence Society in 1845, and to further the work of the society St. Joseph's Band was formed the same year The meeting at which the band was formed took place in St. Joseph's Hall, Margaret St., Launceston. "The Same Old Joes" as they are affectionately called, is the oldest band in the world, and is known throughout the Commonwealth. The original members met for the sake of a pleasurable diversion as well as for the purpose of becoming useful as a band of musicians. The first bandmaster was the late Mr. John Agnew, of the 96th Regiment, and the original members were: Messrs. Charles Galvin, John McKenzie, William Mainsbridge, William Robins, Andrew Skafe, Arthur McIver, Francis Mclver, Morgan O' Meara, William O' Meara, David O'Keefe, Thomas Keogh, Thomas Leary, John Leary, John Murphy, and Bernard Lynch. The first president was the late Rev. Dean Thomas Butler. Subsequently Mr. Joseph Galvin, John Galvin, Thomas J. Doolan, John L. Doolan, James Doolan, and Michael Doolan became members of the band. When Mr. John Agnew left with his regiment for India he was succeeded by Mr. Michael Dillon, solo clarionet player of the 11th Regiment Band, and after him Drum-Major C. W. Allen, who had retired from the 96th Regiment, and remained in Launceston. Mr. Allen was the father of the late Mr. C. W. Allen, who was for many years a member of the Westbury Council, and for a term a member of the House of Assembly. He was succeeded by Mr. Charles Galvin, one of the founders of the institution, who always took a warm interest in. its progress until the date of his death. He was the father of Mr. Bart J. Galvin, who is still the band's patron. Mr. Charles Galvin was bandmaster until Mr. John McGuire was appointed.


"ST. JOSEPH'S BAND. FIFTY YEARS' HISTORY", Launceston Examiner (6 July 1895), 3:

"The World's Oldest Band Celebrates Its Centenary", Examiner (25 August 1945), 11:

St. Joseph's Church, Hobart
St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
St. Mary's Choral Society (Sydney)
St. Patrick's Church, Sydney
St. Philip's Church, Sydney
Salle de Valentino

Shoalhaven Harmonic Society

Kiama, Nowra, NSW, 1860s (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

Smith, Brown, and Collins Original Christy's Minstrels troupe
Toured Australia February-December 1865

Summary: Having sailed from Southampton on 27 September 1863, the Smith, Brown, and Collins "original" Christy's minstrel troupe, in which Rayner was "an eminent basso and first class musician" arrived in Sydney "after a most successful tour through India, China, Java, Batavia, &c." in February 1865. With a mixed program including black-face minstrel numbers and operatic burlesque, they toured to Melbourne in March, Bendigo in April, Adelaide in May, Tasmania in July. The minstrels gave their farewell season for the reopening of the Victoria Theatre in Sydney in December.


"THE ORIGINAL CHRISTIES' MINSTRELS", Bell's Life in Sydney (4 February 1865), 2:

[Advertisement], Empire (13 February 1865), 1:

[Advertisement], Empire (18 February 1865), 1:

"THE ORIGINAL CHRISTY'S", The Sydney Morning Herald (25 February 1865), 7:

"RE-OPENING OF THE VICTORIA THEATRE", The Sydney Morning Herald (4 December 1865), 4:

Personnel: J. W. SMITH, manager, Joe BROWN, dancer; W. P. COLLINS, The Original Bones and Prima Donna, Henri HERBERT, Tenor vocalist; W. HARVEY, Second tenor vocalist; W. H. CASTER, Baritone; C. W. RAYNER, basso; E. BYRON, Solo instrumentalist; N. LA FEUILLADE, Instrumental director; Rafael ABECCO, vocalist

Web: William L. Slout, Burnt cork and tambourines: a source book of Negro ministrelsy:

Sydney Amateur Concerts

Sydney Band (The City Band)


Catch Clubs for the convivial singing of catches (rounds, or canons), glees, and other often ribald songs, proliferated in British cities and towns during the 18th century. A good account of the phenomenon is Brian Robin's Catch and glee culture in eighteenth-century England. Printed collections like The Catch Club or Merry Companions (c.1700), and The muses delight: catches, glees, canzonets, and canons (1786) supplied their core repertory. London's famous Catch Club became and remained the model for most of these bodies, and was undoubtedly still the model for the Sydney Catch Club in the 1840s.

In October 1843, toward the end of his first Australian season at the Royal Victoria Theatre, the actor and singer George Coppin began transferring his entrepreneurial activities to his newly acquired hotel across the street. He named the new establishment the Clown Hotel, and, in an advertisement first run in the press on 30 October, offered  its large saloon as suitable for "Dinner Parties, Balls, Clubs, Societies or Public Meetings", adding as footnote: NB: A Catch Club will be established, and held every Tuesday evening. Coppin gave a little further information about the new Sydney club in an advertisement first run on 9 November: ACATCH CLUB will be held every Tuesday evening, at which every encouragement will be given to professional singers, and gentlemen amateurs desirous of perfecting themselves in the delightful science of music. A meeting of members was called in January 1844 to discuss important business. This was probably the appointment of a music director, for, as Coppin advertised on 23 January:

Mr. C. is instructed by the Committee of the SYDNEY CATCH CLUB to inform young gentlemen desirous of perfecting themselves in the delightful science of Music, that a professional gentlemen is engaged to arrange and instruct them in Glee and Catch Singing, free of expense, to attend the Club every Tuesday evening.

In April, a special meeting was called for the evening of Wednesday 24th, ostensibly to "make arrangements for the ensuing winter season". Coppin, however, may simply have been trying to drum up an audience for his regular entertainers, for the members were promised: "Messrs. Flachon, Fillmore, Coppin, and Jones, will contribute to the evening's entertainment." Whether the Sydney Catch Club continued after this point is unclear, though after George Skinner took over the Clown's license from Coppin in October, a rare advertisement in song (to be sung to the tune Derry Down) continued to offer catch singing as one of the attractions of the venue:

If you wish to partake in a glee or a catch,
 Why you've only to hint your desire to Joe Hatch,
And the sons of Apollo, with voices in tune,
 Can enjoy a long pull there, in Skinner's Saloon!

At least one later attempt at forming a catch and glee in Sydney is on record, but this press advertisement of 10 August 1855 is its sole mention.

More on catches in colonial Australia: English catches and glees were the staples of secular convivial part-singing in early colonial Australia. Unlike simpler songs and ballads, which relied on the singer's vocal qualities and memory, part singing required a level of what colonists would have called "scientific" musical skill. As a result, part singing most often relied on a professional musician (or a professionally-taught amateur) to direct it. Glees (harmonised part songs) and catches (rounds and canons) were usually in three, or occasionally four voice parts. They made perfect after dinner music. In Hobart in 1826 at a dinner given to Major Abbot, prior to his moving to Launceston, the singers included John Philip Deane, Hobart's leading non-military musical professional. According to the report in the Colonial Times: "Several excellent songs were given by different Gentlemen, particularly by Mr. Roberts and Mr. Deane, who with some other amateurs, sung favourite catches and glees." Deane was also a music-seller, and on a list of music-for-sale in 1828, he advertised under the heading FAVOURITE CATCHES one called Look, neighbours look. Some glees and catches were also considered suitable for formal concerts. For his concert in Sydney in November 1829, according to The Australian, the publican and entrepreneur Barnett Levey promised that he himself would: "introduce one or two of his favourite catches, and those who had the luck to be present at the last Olio will acknowledge the fun they enjoyed on that occasion." In Adelaide, South Australia, at New Year 1844, local "professor of music", George Bennett (1817-1854) gave a concert at which, the Southern Australian reported: The little catch, "Ah! how, Sophia," was successfully performed by Messrs Ewens, Harward, and Bennett. It is Celebrated for its puns, having been expressly composed for cockney singers. "Ah! how, Sophia" ("a house o'fire"), cries one; "Go fetch the indian's" (engines), rejoins another; and the third quaintly remarks, "I'm but a lodger." The company were much amused, and heartily encored the piece. The following are the words:

Ah! how Sophia, can you leave
Your lover, and of hope bereave?
Go fetch the Indian's borrowed plume -
Yet, richer far than that you bloom.
I'm but a lodger in your heart.
And more than me, I fear, have part.

Altogether, this, we should say was one of the best concerts we have had in Adelaide. Here is the opening (and a link to the complete music) of Calcott's setting from The Musical Times (1854). Catches and glees were also reportedly among the music sung by the convicts on Norfolk Island during and even after the controversial tenure of the reforming commandant Alexander Maconochie. To the amusement of the press and consternation of his critics, in 1840 Maconochie bought up the complete stock of manuscript music and manuscript paper of the Sydney music-seller, Andrew Ellard, intending "to employ in copying Music such old, lame, sick or other infirm Prisoners under my care as can be instructed in it." From Sydney in early 1840, Maconochie also hired the recent and somewhat shadowy é migré musician and physician, Dr. James A. Reid, to be one of his medical officers on Norfolk Island. And among the new prisoners who arrived from England that year was the composer and convicted forger Charles Packer. By 1845 Maconochie, Reid, and Packer had all left the island, but their influence perhaps lingered on. As The Australian noted as late as 1846, reporting on an escape attempt: "Amongst the prisoners ... are some really good singers, and these kept up a concert of catches and glees, while others were employed in filing away their irons ... "

Sydney Choral Society

Sydney, NSW, c.1844-57 (TROVE public tag)

Sydney Harmonicon
Sydney Philharmonic Society
Sydney School of Arts

Sydney Vocal Harmonic Society

Sydney, 1858-62 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

Sydney University Musical Festival

Sydney, 1859 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


Formed December 1860
Master (Sydney Batallion): Douglas Callen
(South Sydney company: William Stanley)

1860-12-17: BAND FOR THE ARTILLERY AND RIFLE VOLUNTEERS.- Those persons who have forwarded their names for a Band are requested to meet Mr. DOUGLAS CALLEN, the Provisional Director, at the Volunteer Office, Hyde Park, on TUESDAY next, the:i8tb instant, at 7 o'clock p.m. By order, WILLIAM FORDE, honorary secretary. 14th December.

1860-12-22: Mr. Douglas Callen, bandmaster of the 12th Regiment, has been appointed temporary director of the band now in process of formation by the Volunteer Rifles.

1860-12-28: THE VOLUNTEER BAND.- A meeting of persons favourable to joining the Volunteer Rifles Band was held at the offices Hyde Park, yesterday evening. The band master of the 12th Regiment, Mr. Douglas Callan, was in attendance to test the qualifications of the different candidates. The names of the following amateurs were taken down:

Mr. Dennis, cornet; Mr. Arthur Stacey, cornet: Mr. Benjamin Walters, violin; Mr. P. M. Moore, flute; Mr. J. Beaumont, flute; Mr. J. Hasker, cornet; Mr. Davison, piccolo or flute; Mr. D. Shaw, cornet; Mr. G. Eginton, baritone sax horn . Mr. E. Conroy, flute; Mr. E. Turner, concertina; Mr. P. Williams, violin; Mr. Horan, cornet; Mr. G. McKinnon, flagelet; Mr. Henry Webb, triangle; Mr. Ham, cornet; Mr. Ham, sax-tuba; Mr. H. Jones, French horn; Mr. Brodie, drum; Mr. Edmonstore, French flute; Mr. McKenzie, hautboy; Mr. Nicholas Nelson, flute; and Mr. Devlin, basso.

The following names have been taken down as paid members:

Mr. Leahy, bass trombone; Mr. G. Wright, bassoon; Mr. Thomas Quinn, side drum; Mr. James Wilson, clarionet; Mr. T. Gill, bombardon; Mr. M. McMahon, clarionet; Mr. Morgan, trombone; Mr. Metcalfe, clarionet; Mr. Lambe, French horn; two Messrs. Taylor, cornets; Mr. Crow, sax horn; Mr. Pearson, piccolo; Mr. J. Palmer, flute.

The paid members, who are to be 16 in number, must have a knowledge of music; the amateurs either have a knowledge of music or will receive instruction. The collection of names as above would appear a preliminary stop, as Mr. Callan will have to report to the band committee before anything definite can be done.

1861-03-21: ... on this occasion, too, the band of the Rifles made its debut. It was intended from the first to make this band superior in numbers and musical talent to any other in the colony, and as this would involve a heavy expense, subscriptions were invited towards that object. Just at the time, however, there was the intercolonial cricket match to provide for, and the Anniversary regatta, which must have affected the subscription list considerably; but the Government promised to place the sum of £300 on the Estimates towards supplementing private donations, and on the faith of this the committee proceeded to engage the services of a director (who was also instructed to engage sixteen professionals, who would receive pay for their services). Mr. Callen was the gentleman chosen as director, and he set to work in organising the paid nucleus. A number of amateurs at once volunteered to join the professionals, several of whom were excellent players on suitable instruments, while others who had a knowledge of music yet performed on those altogether unsuited for a military band. These latter were advised by Mr. Callen to form themselves into a class for the purpose of acquiring proficiency on the instruments which could be made available; and having done so, the members of the band will shortly be augmented to the number of about thirty-five or forty. They have been practising piivately for some time past, and on Saturday last the Volunteers who proceeded to the Balmain presentation of colours had the satisfaction of being headed by their own band, wearing the uniform of the corps, towards the support of this band the various companies have consented to subscribe in proportion to their strength.

References: [Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (17 December 1860), 1:

"WEEKLY REGISTER", Empire (22 December 1860), 5:

"THE VOLUNTEER BAND", Empire (28 December 1860), 5:

"THE VOLUNTEER MOVEMENT", The Sydney Morning Herald (21 March 1861), 9:

"THE VOLUNTEERS OF NEW SOUTH WALES", The Sydney Morning Herald (21 August 1861), 6:

"VOLUNTEER BANDS. To the Editor", The Sydney Morning Herald (13 November 1861), 8:

"BOTANIC GARDENS", Empire (20 Decemeber 1862), 8:


"BOTANIC GARDENS", The Sydney Morning Herald (21 April 1863), 13:

"THE BAND ...", The Sydney Morning Herald (31 October 1863), 5: 

Music: Douglas Callen, Manly Beach galop (As performed by the band of the 1st Battalion Sydney Volunteer Rifles) (Sydney: Messrs Wilkie Elvy &? Co., [1863]):

William Stanley, The N.S.W. Volunteer Rifles Quick March (Dedicated to the Volunteer Rifles, South Sydney Company) (Sydney: J. R. Clarke, 1863):


Theatre Royal (Cremorne Gardens, Melbourne)

References: [Advertisement], The Argus (21 December 1855), 8: [testimonial from the touring actress Mrs. Thom includes a list of orchestral musicians]


1835: Lessees have succeeded in engaging all the first-rate Musical Talent in Sydney to form their Orchestra, which consists of the following gentlemen:

Leader of the Band, Mr Clarke: Violins, Messrs. Spyers, Johnson, Dyer, and Scott ; principal Flute, Mr. Stubbs; Voiloncello and Grand Piano Forte, Mr. Cavendish; Clarionets, Messrs. Turner and Sharp; Bassoons, Messrs. Hoare and Ball, Bugle, Mr. Pappin; Drums, Mr. Vaughan.

The Musical Department will be considerably improvod, and under the direction of Mr. CAVENDISH [...] The Company engnged for the ensuing Season consist of Messrs. Simmons, Knowles, Mackay, Buckingham, Winters, Peat, Dyball, Simes, Lane, Fitzgerald, Oxberry, and Master S. Jones. Mesdames Taylor, Jones, Mackay, Larra, and Misses Douglass and Winstanley.

References: [Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (4 May 1835), 3:

University of Sydney Musical Festival (1859)

Tumut Vocal Harmonic Society

Tumut, NSW, 1860s (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


Active Windsor, NSW, by 1822

For the first fifty years after colonial settlement, regimental bands were the backbone of Australian public music making. This was public-service music culture, imported from London at no extra cost to the colonists. These bands were made up of a core of trained and salaried professional musicians, recruited especially by the British regiments and liveried as soldiers, usually supported by a few former amateurs from the ranks who had enlisted in the usual way. For example, the master of the band of the 40th in the mid-1820s, Joseph Reichenberg, fell into the first category, whereas Sergeant Harry Parsons arrived in 1788 as a marine and went on to serve in the Band of the New South Wales Corps and its successors.

A rare early example of a private band was Captain Piper's Band of Music, active in Sydney from around 1820 until its patron John Piper attempted suicide in 1827.

Civilian bands proliferated in the 1840s, often with the help of former members of military bands. A Sydney Band or Sydney Town Band played regularly from around 1840, under the direction of the recently arrived former military bandmaster Thomas Leggatt (in Australia Leggatt was strictly an amateur musician; he made his living as a Sussex Street publican). Around the same time, temperance societies also began to form temperance bands or bands of hope.

However, at least one other town band was formed many years earlier. As this letter to the Sydney Gazette reveals, in the Richmond area of New South Wales to the west of Sydney the Windsor Band was already active in 1822.

To the Printer of the Sydney Gazette. SIR, You talk of the prevailing Sydney gaiety, but allow me to give you a description of our grand doings here, and at Richmond. On Monday evening, the 11th ult. WILLIAM BELL, Esq. of Bellmont, entertained a large party of Ladies and Gentlemen; the Windsor band attended; and the dance was led off to the tune of "Rivers, I am beyond your reach." On Wednesday following, WILLIAM COX, Esq., of Clarendon, invited a large party of his friends to celebrate the christening of his son, and closed the evening with a lively dance, to the tune of "The Golden Fleece" or "The Merino Breed is pure." On the Friday following, Windsor was a scene of barouches and four, crowded with Ladies, single-horse chaises, and horses with out-riders, until a late hour of the day, passing to Clifton Cottage, the residence of Captain BRABYN, where a sumptuous dinner was prepared; and in the evening a sprightly dance commenced, led off by Miss BRABYN, to the tune of "Speed the Plough" which was played by the Windsor band with animated glee. This entertainment was honored with the company of several Officers of His Majesty's ship Dauntless. The party did not break up until the splendid luminary of this lower world bade the husbandman repair to that labour which affords all the comforts of a friendly welcome and a country life. The visitors left Richmond and its neighbourhood with one general wish, that that part of the country might be blessed with continued plenty, and its inhabitants ever be rendered happy. Yours, &c, RECIFFOLAVAK.

While we cannot be sure of its membership (perhaps a mixture of army bandsmen from the Windsor Barracks and local amateurs), thanks to the correspondent we do know the names of some of the tunes it played. Rivers, I am beyond your reach, and The Golden fleece or The merino breed is pure both remain a mystery for the moment. And even though Speed the Plough was almost ubiqutious, it is hard from this distance to be sure precisely what tune is referred to here. The English ballad God speed the plough was sung or played to the tune I am the Duke of Norfolk. Or, perhaps more likely, it was the Irish dance tune that took the name Speed the plough after it had been used in a stage play of that name by the Irish-born London professional musician and composer John Moorehead (d.1804), who published it in 1798 as The Favourite Dance introduced in the New Comedy called Speed the Plough ... arranged as a Rondo for the Piano-forte. (John Field also wrote a rondo on Speed the Plough.)

The Windsor Band returns to the newspaper record 20 years later. At North Richmond on Boxing Day 1843, the Windsor Band was in attendance at the annual meeting of the St. Patrick's Total Abstinence Society. The proceeds of the day were, moreover, to be "devoted toward the establishment of a Society Band" . Thereafter, the Windsor Band is noted from time to time for the rest of the 19th century, and in 1901 was being billed as the Windsor Brass Band.

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2017