The Quadrangle

The Carillon

The War Memorial Carillon, commemorating the 197 undergraduates, graduates and staff who died in World War I, was installed in the Clock Tower in the Quadrangle and dedicated on Anzac Day, 25 April 1928.

Below are Sydney Morning Herald news reports on the inauguration ceremony, the military ceremony and the music of the Carillon on 25 April 1928.

Crowds attending the inauguration

Crowds attending the inauguration, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

Inauguration ceremony

'The War Memorial Carillon at the Sydney University was inaugurated yesterday, the ceremony being attended by great throngs. The Quadrangle was filled to overflowing during the academic ceremony, and between 5000 and 6000 participated In the military function which followed immediately afterwards.

A programme of appropriate items was played on the carillon by Mr. Bryan Barker later in the afternoon.

The Chancellor of the University (Sir William Cullen), the Deputy Chancellor (Sir Mungo MacCallum), the Vice-Chancellor (Professor R. S. Wallace), and members of the Senate and University staff, with military officers, entered the Great Hall in procession through the quadrangle door and took up their respective positions on the main platform. Seated there and also in the body of the hall were Ministers of the Crown, heads of Churches, and members of the Supreme Court Bench. The professional and commercial life of Sydney was also well represented.

The Chancellor received from the executive committee, representing the subscribers, the War Memorial Carillon, which commemorates especially the sacrifice made by those whose names are on the honour roll. It also commemorates the war service of all Sydney University soldiers and other soldiers whose memorials have been entrusted to the keeping of the University.
It was appropriate that Anzac Day should have been chosen for the Inauguration ceremony.' SMH, 26 April 1928

— Origin of Memorial

'At the request of Sir William Cullen, the chairman of the executive committee of the War Memorial (Sir Mungo MacCallum) offered the memorial to the University and briefly described its origin and purpose. He said it would commemorate the participants in the Great War which ended ten years ago. The day was a suitable one, as it commemorated the anniversary of a glorious and imperishable achievement of their fellow citizens on land and sea.

"It may be asked," he added, "why this delay has occurred in carrying out the obvious duty of honouring such high devotion. There has been no forgetfulness of the obligations so imposed. Circumstances were the cause of the delay. The first year after the war a great architectural memorial was projected, but the expense proved to be beyond our resources. Besides, the war left an aftermath of even more urgent problems. The University had to provide for students more numerous than had been seen before or since, and these demands had to be met. There was a lack of accommodation, and the classes had to be duplicated, and in some cases triplicated. Much attention had to be given to granting concessions that would be beneficial to returned soldiers.

"There were several years In which only the pressing needs of the University could receive consideration. From time to time the question of the War Memorial was much discussed. Towards the close of 1923, when matters in some measure had settled themselves, the memorial was taken up in earnest. This movement was enthusiastically supported by the undergraduates, and a recommendation was subsequently made to the Senate, which gave its approval."

Continuing, Sir Mungo said that, as there were no funds, the appointment of a committee to raise the necessary amount was authorised. At the end of May, 1924, a preliminary meeting was held, and a committee was elected with the initial intention of raising 15,000 pounds. This was considered to be a reasonable figure for a carillon. In less than five months more than that sum had been collected. To-day, together with interest, it had risen to over 21,000 pounds. This had enabled the committee to procure a better carillon than was first aimed at. The surplus would be enough to carry out their revised plans. Thanks were due to the very many who had worked for subscriptions, and it was impossible to enumerate them. Amongst them were not a few unconnected with the University, chiefly the carillon commemorated members of the University, and for the most part it had been provided by them and their relatives. One-third of the total amount had been contributed by undergraduates themselves, though far from a wealthy community. This showed the recognition on their part of true submission to duty, and the supreme need of the best in life.

Sir Mungo MacCallum thereupon formally offered the memorial to the University.' SMH, 26 April 1928

— Acceptance of Memorial

'The Chancellor then read the acceptance of the memorial, and handed it to the Vice-Chancellor for preservation, among those records of the University relating to the war, which are kept in the Great Tower, appropriate to the purpose of the memorial.

"In the name of the Senate and by my authority as Chancellor," he said, "I accept from the subscribers this carillon, with equipment and clock, now presented to the University in honour of its own members and their fellow citizens so commemorated, who served in the Great War. I recognise that this memorial is intended not only as a tribute to those who sacrificed or were willing to sacrifice everything on behalf of their Empire and country, of right and liberty, but as a reminder to their successors, with every note that is struck, of the great example which they have shown to future generations, of flawless courage, of cheerful endurance, and of unselfish devotion."

Sir William Cullen expressed appreciation of the gift. Among the many noble gifts received by the University since its establishment, he said, none would hold a more honoured place than the carillon. It was a gift which they owed to the liberality of all sections of the community. It pleased him very much to believe that they had the vision to see that the citadel on the hill represented the whole community in its love and reverence to the memory of those who fell in the war. The gift had taken a very beautiful form, and was expressive of the deep appreciation of all those who left Australia to serve for her, to uphold those things which the community felt most deeply and honoured most highly, those principles of patriotism and service, and of aspirations towards the future, which, if they could see, would not disappoint those who offered the gift. The music of the bells would ring out a message of hope and courage. The bells would inspire future students of the University, and remind them that their own brethren were among the steadfast who were determined at any sacrifice to themselves to attain that which the University and all the high aspirations of the community looked for, that good was going to live, though their lives had to be given to preserve it.

He hoped that the music of the bells would be a consolation to those who loved and lost. It would surely be an encouragement in the thought that the good was beautiful, and the beautiful good. In times to come it would be a spur and inspiration to the students, cheering them at times when disappointment and depression might otherwise fall on their way; but why, in Australia, should they have other than hope and courage? He was deeply gratified to have the honour of accepting such a noble gift from the subscribers.

In conclusion, said Sir William, he desired to thank those who had made it possible to procure the memorial, and he hoped that its influence would last as long as that community existed.

Following upon the acceptance of the memorial by the Chancellor, the audience rose while the great bell, named "A.I.F.," tolled 18 times at intervals of five seconds for those commemorated on the roll of honour. The number "eighteen" signified the lowest age at which men were accepted for active service abroad.

The organist (Mr. A. R. Mote) then played "0, God, Our Help In Ages Past," which was also sung by the audience. This concluded the academic ceremony, and the procession then reformed and proceeded to the Lower Terrace in front of the great tower to participate in the military ceremony.' SMH, 26 April 1928

Military ceremony

'The spacious grounds of the University were crowded with people to witness the military ceremony, which took place outside the main entrance. The special enclosures were thronged with distinguished visitors. At half-past 1 o'clock there was a parade of the Sydney University Regiment, with a number of returned soldiers, after which the Minister for Defence (Major-General Sir William Glasgow) inspected the guard of honour.

From the head of the steps leading to the lower terrace, in front of the great tower, the Senior Chaplain of the Commonwealth Military Forces, the Rev. James Green, opened the dedication service shortly after half past 3 o'clock, with a prayer for the King and nation.

The Lord's Prayer was then repeated by all present, and Mr. Green read the following short prayer, dedicating the bells:- "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do dedicate and set apart these bells, that they may be an everlasting memorial to all those whose names are inscribed upon them. May the sound of these bells be acceptable to the God of Heaven. Amen."

Sir William Glasgow prefaced his address by outlining the history of the Australians in the war, stating that the morale of the men at Gallipoli was splendidly maintained In France and other war zones. "The record of the Anzacs was one of which we may well be proud," said Sir William Glasgow. "Their feats and sacrifices have won for them imperishable fame. I would like to congratulate the University on the form their memorial has taken. It is unique in Australia. The memorials scattered round Australia are silent remembrances of the grand record and sacrifice of the A.I.F. The University, however, has an audible memorial. As the beautiful music comes from the bells let us hope it will inspire future generations with the same service as was given by the men of the A.I.F."

After quoting eulogistic references to the Australian soldiers by eminent British generals, Sir William Glasgow said that the extraordinary record of service of the A.I.F. should be an inspiration that if it was necessary again - let them hope it never would be - they would be prepared to render the same service. "It also should be an inspiration," concluded Sir William Glasgow, "that in attacking the great problems of peace we should try to bring to bear those great qualities which were so prominent in Australians during the war, namely, sacrifice, courage, endurance, devotion, and duty. All these, together with co-operation, are necessary to enable us to solve the great problems that face us."

After the address, a two-minutes' silence was signalled by a shot from a field gun. The troops then presented arms and the trumpeters sounded the "Last Post" and "Reveille." ' SMH, 26 April 1928

Music of the Carillon

'After the address of Sir William Glasgow the carillon pealed an imposing tribute to the dead in the music of Chopin's "Funeral March." Then the National Anthem was played upon the bells, ere the troops marched off, and the carilloneur, Mr. Bryan Barker, then proceeded with his recital.

The first vivid impression was made from the carillon tower earlier than this, however, in the thrilling moment when, as the audience in the Great Hall stood, the big bass bell, to which the name "A.I.F." has been given, tolled its solemn 18 strokes for those commemorated on the roll of honour. There were many impressive moments in the ceremony, but none seemed more lmpressive than this, as the deep tones of the bell, heard by the silent crowd which thronged the Great Hall, and the silent thousands assembled outside, in front of the University, caught up hallowed remembrances and projected them anew upon every mental vision.

Then, at the first notes of Chopin's famous "Funeral March," from his Sonata in B flat minor, the stately measure of the bass, in which the theme is first enunciated, revived these thoughts. Coleridge's description of one of those great marches, "a royal procession in purple," aptly applied to this stirring statement of the noble melody by the sweet toned lower bells, all harmoniously voicing the majestic strain. It was in the middle section, however, where Chopin introduces a new motive so fittingly described as inspiring in its message of consolation that some unexpected results were introduced, in the tremolo effects with which this theme was surrounded. The resumption of the march motive at the close was again very beautiful, the mournful significance of the music being fully brought out, particularly in the fading cadences at the end.

Many among the vast audience in the University grounds expected, judging from their expressions of opinion, a fuller volume of tone from the bells. It is pointed out, however, that this is a concert carillon, and therefore not an Instrument designed to fill the countryside with sound. Since some of the treble bells weigh only 14 pounds, it is obvious that these cannot carry an enormous distance, and that the effect of demanding too heavy a volume from the lower bells would be to throw the musical fabric out of balance.

Of Mr Barker's programme, no piece illustrated the capacity of the carillon with finer effect than his own Fantasia. This was practically a bravura display, but the remarkable glissandos, treble trills, and scales were as rapid, and at the same time as clear and superbly toned as those of a piano. "The Blue Bells of Scotland," an arrangement by Dr. Burrows, proved particularly interesting in revealing the mellow tenor quality of the carillon, and was one of the features of the programme in its full harmonious and bright enunciation of melody.

The bells certainly impressed by their sweet quality of tone. The tremolo effects introduced so frequently in the treble section, in the statement of melody, were puzzling; but it is explained that these are necessary to overcome the difficulty of sustaining a tone on the lighter bells. Those accustomed to hear Chopin's "Funeral March" Sonata on the piano, for which it was composed, did not readily grasp certain features of the new version. Since the carillon is an instrument with which the audience was not familiar, these effects will no doubt be readily accepted when it is better known. Handel's Largo, a broad, open, theme, was delivered sonorously, and among other music was "The Men of Harlech," spiritedly played; "On the Banks of Allan Water," "The Last Rose of Summer," a group of hymns, and the National Anthems of the Allies. Among the hymns "St. Edward's Sequence," said to belong to the time of Edward the Confessor, was notable for its chant-like melody, slated with fine effect.

Those in the official reserve, almost immediately below the tower, were not in so favourable a position to hear the bells as those who were a longer distance off. This was proved yesterday by many who, after listening to the carillon close at hand, moved to points further away in the park. Professor Holme, who has had the opportunity of listening to the famous Malines carillon, states
that he has never heard a better treble section than that of the University.

Last night, for the purposes of broadcasting to the various soldiers' gatherings, Mr. Barker played a programme of soldiers' songs from 8.50 till 9.10 o'clock. About 600 people assembled at the University to hear the music; and as they showed no disposition to leave after this programme, Mr. Barker played a number of other pieces, including Chopin's "Funeral March," "Home, Sweet Home," "The Blue Bells of Scotland," and "A Perfect Day." At the end, the audience showed their enthusiasm by hearty cheering.' SMH, 26 April 1928