LAST MODIFIED Wednesday 10 April 2019 7:44

Paling family of musicians and music sellers

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "Paling family of musicians and music sellers", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 24 May 2019

PALING, William Henry

Violinist, pianist, organist, music retailer, music publisher, composer

Born Woerden, Netherlands, 1 September 1825
Arrived Melbourne, VIC, 22 February 1855 (per Clio, from Amsterdam), 16 November 1854)
Arrived Sydney, NSW, September 1855
Died Stanmore, 27 August 1895 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony) (NLA persistent identifier)

PALING, G. H. (Mr. PALING, junior; ? J. G. PALING; ? A. G. PALING)

Pianist, organist

Active Sydney, NSW, June 1856 to May 1857 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

PALING, Richard John

Music retailer, music publisher

Born Rotterdam, Netherlands, 15 December 1830
Active Melbourne, VIC, by June 1856; ? 1864
Died Bondi, NSW, 6 March 1914, aged 84 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)



The Paling brothers were sons of the Rotterdam pianist and organist John Henry Paling (1796-1879), who, from the late 1830s onwards, was also a leading music retailer and publisher, and piano manufacturer. Eve Keane (1954), followed by Andrew McCredie (1974) and Edward Duyker (2010), claimed that William (b. 1825) was a pupil and protege of the violinist Berthold Tours (1838-1897); but that being chronologically unlikely, the figure in question was probably the violinist's father and first teacher, Barthélemy (1797-1864), likewise a violinist, and also organist of the Laurenskerk. As early as February 1848, J. H. Paling appeared as a piano soloist, in Weber's Concertino, for Rotterdam's Eruditio Musica society, of which the elder Tours was a director. In November 1832, for the same society, Paling and Tours were duo partners in a performance of a "Groot rondo concertant" by Kalliwoda. In an advertisement of August 1853 for the forthcoming teaching term at Rotterdam's Organists' training school (Muzijkschool en Inrigting voor Orgelonderwijs), J. H. and W. H. Paling were both listed as giving instruction in piano, and Tours (again, almost certainly the elder) in the violin. In later advertisements in Australia William described himself as "first violinist of the Royal Holland Academy" and as director of a musical "academy" in that country.

Seven pianos imported by William Paling were landed with him from the Clio in Melbourne in February 1855, and in March the Argus reported that Paling himself, "a musical professor recently arrived, will give a concert at the Grand Junction Hotel, St. Kilda ... assisted by Mrs. Testar and others of our musical celebrities ... We understand, Mr. Paling is unsurpassed in this colony in his execution on the piano and violin ...". He was in Ballarat with Emile Coulon and Maria Carandini in May, according to the Star, "by far the greatest musical treat ever experienced by a Ballaarat audience ... at the Golden Fleece, on the town-ship", and in July was accompanying Miska Hauser and Octavia Hamilton. At his first concert in Sydney in September (with William Stanley as accompanist) he introduced his own The last rose of summer, for the violin, a "thema, with modulations and sounds harmoniques; variation for two violins, without piano accompaniment; finale brillante, con Arpeggio ot Pizzicato" and also announced: "W. H. Paling will also introduce several Irish and Scotch Airs, purposoly arranged by him for this Concert."

For the opening of the Sydney Railway, on 26 September, and played for the first time at the Railway Ball, he produced the Sydney Railway Waltz , published by Woolcott and Clarke in October. The same publishers advertised in December his song Thoughts of Home ("words by Henry Halloran, Esq., the music composed and dedicated to the Baron Heiness, By W.H. PALING"). In January 1856, William was also reportedly involved in the preparation for publication, following Bochsa's funeral, of a harmonised setting of the harpist-composer's final sketch, Requiem aeternam (Rest, great Musician, rest) ("a mournful refrain ...  adapted by Mr. Frank Howson, and harmonised in four parts by Mr. [W. H.] Paling"); if it ever appeared, however, no copy has been identified.

According to Eve Keane, the Mr. Paling junior active as a pianist and organist in Sydney in 1855 and 1856 was William's younger brother J. G. Paling. If this is correct, I have so far been unable to identify him more closely, though he may be the A. G. Paling, who have an organ recital in Rotterdam in September 1866.

Having advertised in November 1854 that he was opening a piano store in Den Haag, Richard had established himself in Melbourne by May 1856, importing and selling Erard pianos, and advertising as a piano tuner and teacher.

An early instance of a W. H. Paling publication was The AUSTRALIAN MELODIES ("by Miss Brickwood, Newtown"), advertised in December 1864 (no copy identified), and of a joint Sydney-Melbourne publication by both brothers, Charles Elsässer's Joy (Galop Brilliant) in November 1866. 


[Family notices], Rotterdamsche courant (6 September 1825), 3 

Heden werd voorfpoedig van een ZOON verlost de geliefde Echtgenoot van Rotterdam den 1 September 1825. J. H. PALING.

[Advertisement], Rotterdamsche courant (21 February 1829), 3 

[Family notices], Rotterdamsche courant (18 December 1830), 4 

Mijne geliefde Echtgenoot beviel heden voorspoedig van een ZOON. Rotterdam den 15 December 1830. J. H. PALING.

[Advertisement], Rotterdamsche courant (27 November 1832), 4 

[News], Rotterdamsche courant (1 February 1848), 2 

[Advertisement], Nederlandsche staatscourant (15 February 1848), 

[News], Rotterdamsche courant (5 September 1848), 2 

[Advertisement], Nieuwe Rotterdamsche courant: staats-, handels-, nieuws- en advertentieblad (29 October 1849), 4 

"ROTTERDAM den 11 februarij", Rotterdamsche courant (12 February 1852), 2 

[Advertisement], Rotterdamsche courant (24 August 1853), 4 

"Kunsten en Wetenschappen", Nieuwe Rotterdamsche courant: staats-, handels-, nieuws- en advertentieblad (20 March 1854), 4 

[News], Rotterdamsche courant (6 September 1854), 2 

[Advertisement], Dagblad van Zuidholland en 's Gravenhage (1 November 1854), 4 

MAGASIN DE PIANOS. R. J. PALING ... plus d'extension aux affaires de son père a Rotterdam, il vient d'établir à la Haye, Spuistraat, S, 375, un Magasin de Pianos ...

"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE", The Argus (23 February 1855), 4 

"IMPORTS", The Argus (23 February 1855), 4

"GRAND CONCERT", The Argus (30 March 1855), 5

"BALLARAT", The Argus (16 May 1855), 6

[Advertisement], Empire (17 January 1856), 1

[News], The Argus (19 July 1855), 7

"MISKA HAUSER", The Argus (31 August 1855), 5

"MISKA HAUSTER", The Argus (31 August 1855), 6

"GRAND CONCERT", The Sydney Morning Herald (22 September 1855), 4

[Advertisement], Empire (27 September 1855), 1

"GRAND EVENING CONCERT", The Sydney Morning Herald (28 September 1855), 5

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (29 September 1855), 3

"SYDNEY", The Argus (4 October 1855), 5

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (4 October 1855), 8

"SYDNEY RAILWAY BALL", The Sydney Morning Herald (4 October 1855), 2

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (20 October 1855), 10

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (15 December 1855), 8

[News], Nieuwe Rotterdamsche courant: staats-, handels-, nieuws- en advertentieblad (1 January 1856), 1 

Met genoegen en belargstelling vernemer, wij uit de laatst ingekomene berigten uit Australië, dat onze welbekende stadgenoot de heer W. H. Paling, na met veel succes eenige concerten te Melbourne gegeven en reeds twee kunstreizen in de gouddistricten van Victoria gemaakt te hebben, zich thans te Sydney N. Z. W. bevindt, met voornemen om ook aldaar in het openbaar op te treden.

"DEATH AND OBSEQUIES OF THE LATE M. BOCHSA", The Sydney Morning Herald (9 January 1856), 4

[Advertisement], The Argus (9 January 1856), 7

[Advertisement], The Argus (20 June 1856), 3

"MADAME CAILLY'S CONCERT", The Sydney Morning Herald (11 November 1856), 7 

... Mr. W. Paling executed two fantasias on the violin in a very superior style, and with a manner that showed him to be a master of the delicate instrument he handled, and the audience, by their applause, his success. Mr. G. H. Paling also performed a fantasia on the piano on themes from the Huguenots, displaying brilliancy of style and power, as well as delicacy of touch ...

"NOTES OF THE WEEK", The Sydney Morning Herald (27 December 1862), 5

[Advertisement], Bataviaasch handelsblad (11 April 1863), 1 

[News], Java-bode: nieuws, handels- en advertentieblad voor Nederlandsch-Indie (22 April 1863), 3 

[Advertisement], Java-bode: nieuws, handels- en advertentieblad voor Nederlandsch-Indie (25 April 1863), 2 

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (2 December 1864), 1

[Advertisement], Rotterdamsche courant (5 September 1866), 4 

"Kunstnieuws. Orgelbespeling ... " Rotterdamsche courant (19 September 1866), 5 

  [Advertisement], The Argus (20 November 1866), 2s

"W. H. Paling", in Australian men of mark, vol. 1 (Sydney: Charles Maxwell, 1889), 409-13

"DEATH OF MR. W. H. PALING", The Sydney Morning Herald (28 August 1895), 4

"DEATHS", The Sydney Morning Herald (29 August 1895), 1

"DEATH OF MR. W. H. PALING", The Sydney Morning Herald (29 August 1895), 4

As we announced in our issue of yesterday, Mr. W. H. Paling, the head of the well-know firm of Messrs. W. H. Paling and Co., Limited, musical instrument and music importers, died somewhat suddenly at his residence at Stanmore, on Tuesday night. The cause of death was heart disease, from which Mr. Paling had suffered for some years. Mr. Paling was 70 years of age. His wife died about a year since and five children are left to mourn their loss. Mr. W. H. Paling was born near Rotterdam, and was the son of the pianoforte maker and musician of that name. He early embraced music as a profession, and studied the violin under the famous Tours, of whom he was a favourite pupil. He then studied and taught in the Conservatory of Music at Rotterdam for three years, when he left for Australia where he arrived some time between 1853 and 1854. He gave concerts, and then entered into the music business, and as a teacher enjoyed considerable success. His business increasing year by year, he, in 1883, formed it into a limited company. Mr Paling was a Justice of the Peace for some years, and prior to the appointment of stipendiary magistrates did duty on the Bench in Sydney. He also acted as alderman and Mayor of the borough of Petersham. He was well known to be an earnest and diligent advocate of all sanitary improvements. Mr. Paling was a speculator both in land and mining, and experienced his share of the failures and successes consequent thereon. Mr Paling's chief characteristics were his indomitable energy, great keenness of perception and decision of character, combined with unswerving honesty and integrity ... Mr. Paling's generosity and liberality to all public charitable undertakings were well known, and his loss will be widely mourned by all classes of the community ...

"DEATHS", The Sydney Morning Herald (7 March 1914), 22

Bibliography and resources:

Andrew D. McCredie, "Paling, William Henry (1825-1895)", Australian dictionary of biography 5 (1974)

"J. H. Paling", DBNL(digitale bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse letteren) 

"Paling", Pianofabrikanten in Nederland 

Edward Duyker, "PALING, William Henry", Dictionary of Sydney, 2010 

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2019