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A biographical register of Australian colonial musical personnel–U

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "A biographical register of Australian colonial musical personnel–U", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 20 September 2019

- U -

UHR, William Cornelius

Amateur vocalist, composer, songwriter, lawyer

Born ? England/Germany, 1818/19/20 (17 May 1819 in one family history; 1820 ? on gravestone, Ashfield)
Arrived Sydney, by 1842 (sailed for New Guinea, November 1842)
Active Sydney, 1850s
Died Fivedock, NSW, 6 March 1896, in his 79th year (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

UHR, George Richard

Amateur composer, Sheriff of NSW

Born East London, England, 1822
Arrived Sydney, 24 July 1837 (per Abel Gower, from Portsmouth 28 March)
Died Concord, NSW, 11 September 1864, in the 43rd year of his age (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

UHR, Nellie Elizabeth (TAIT; Mrs. Charles Innes Kerr UHR)

Pianist, organist

Married Charles Innes Kerr UHR (1865-1930), St. Philip's, Sydney, 17 May 1901
Died Marrickville, NSW, 26 September 1926


William and George Uhr were two the youngest sons of Johan Cornelius Fredirk Uhr (1769-1843), Kungsgarden, Sweden, and his English wife Mary Louisa Agatha Ker (1783-1827)

William's sentimental song You love me not ("Air and Words composed by W. C. Uhr and dedicated to the Ladies of Sydney, was published in Sydney by W. J. Johnson in August, 1853, having been "sung with Rapturous Applause by Madame Sara Flower and Mr. John Howson" at the Royal Victoria Theatre. Five years later, in 1858, Uhr and his song reappear in the diary of the 15-year-old and ill-fated Blanche Mitchell (1843-1869), daughter of the late Sir Thomas Mitchell: (IMAGE 1) (IMAGE 2)

Wednesday 17 March 1858: St. Patrick's day . . . Campbell [her brother] brought Mr. Uhr home with him, and some shrimps . . . I shall never forget Mr. Uhr tonight singing. His affectation was extreme. I will describe his absurd songs. First "'Tis not on the battlefield", suitable song, I wrote to Alice [her sister], for present feelings, one line is particularly affecting: "A soldier knows how to brave a soldier's death." Do not scream so loud, Mr. Uhr, we will have the constable in to ask who is howling! Now change your song, that is right. After that affecting song about soldiers, certainly "Grim Death" is really too touching. What! is Grim Death too unsentimental, ah! "You love me not". Pray who are you addressing? Can't sing You love me not! poor fellow! his voice fails him, he recovers it again, but alas! Not to continue, the latter song was too touching. Sentiment now sings "I do not ask to offer thee". What? we are all anxious to hear. Please, we may accept it, but alas! a groan follows, then a screech, now a howl, and oh, what a hullabaloo. Hurrah! it has ceased. Praises resound (some from me). The flushing youth rises overcome, but is forcibly held down, and after a great many coughs, hems, and sounding chords, unfortunates sings "Those bells of Shenandoh". Well, something like it. At last he is finished. The last note echoes on the breeze, and inwardly we exclaim, what a blessing! . . .

Uhr also contributed words to a moving memorial song to another young Sydney debutante, In memory of Jane Elizabeth Balcombe ("who died in the eighteenth year of her age on the morning of the 26th day of December A. D. 1858") (song: "lines written by William Cornelius Uhr and set to music by Frederic William Meymott") ([Sydney]: [?], [1859]).

A reference also exists to a musical work by his brother, George Uhr, then deputy Sheriff, later Sheriff of NSW: The Australian Rifle Corps march (for the pianoforte; by George Uhr, Esq.") (Sydney: Johnson and Son, [1854]); NO COPY IDENTIFIED.

George's daughter, Georgine Marie Louise Uhr (1853-1947), married John Cash Neild on 19 February 1880.


"Shipping Intelligence", The Australian (25 July 1837), 2

July 24. - The ship Abel Gower, Henderson, master, from Portsmouth 28th March, with merchandise. Passengers - Mr. and Mrs. Hodgson, Masters Robert Buckley and John Hodgson, Messrs. Joseph Pattison, George Sutton, Adam Young, and George Uhr.

"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE", The Australian (9 November 1842), 2

CLEARED AT THE CUSTOMS. The barque Juno, Banks, master, for New Guinea, with sundries. Passenger, W. C. Uhr.

"MUSICAL REVIEW", Bell's Life in Sydney (6 August 1853), 2

A copy of a pretty little ballad, composed by Mr. W. C. Uhr, and dedicated to the ladies of Sydney, has been politely sent to us. The title of the song is "You love me not!" and we understand that the said ladies have called a meeting of condolence and voted accordingly. "We pity Uhr case!" Considering, however, that to so unnatural a musical plaint a musical answer is requisite, they are about publishing, in the key of be natural, a bravura, to be entitled, "We never said we did!"

"YOU LOVE ME NOT", The Sydney Morning Herald (8 August 1853), 5

A very beautiful and very original ballad has been published by Mr. Johnson, bearing this title. The words and music are both by Mr. W. C. Uhr, an amateur, whose taste for sweet sounds, judged of by this little performance, must be exquisite. The melody is charminly simple, but the time is still more charmingly irregular, and there is a little ritournella full of abandon, which none but a musical soul could have conceived. We can cordially recommend this song to every lady's drawing-room.

"ROYAL VICTORIA THEATRE", Empire (12 August 1853), 2

ROYAL VICTORIA THEATRE. Last night but one of Mr. and Mrs. Stark's engagement. THIS EVENING, Friday, August 12, 1853, will be produced Sir E. L. Bulwer's Play of THE LADY OF LYONS; OR, LOVE AND PRIDE. Claude Melnotte, Mr. Stark; Pauline, Mrs. Stark. Madame Sara Flower will sing a New Ballad (Words and Music composed by W. C. Uhr), entitled, "You love me not." To conclude with the laughable Farce of CAUGHT IN HIS OWN TRAP.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (24 August 1853), 1

THIS EVENING. Wednesday, August 24. ROYAL HOTEL. MESSRS. J. HOWSON and H. RICHARDSON beg respectfully to announce to their friends and the public that their Evening Concert will take place as above . . .
PROGRAMME . . . Part II . . . [6] Song - "You Love me Not," Mr. J. Howson, (written and composed by W. C. Uhr, Esq.) . . .

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (13 October 1854), 1

THE RIFFLE CORPS MARCH, by George Uhr, Esq. Published by JOHNSON and SON, 57, Pitt-street.

"NEW MUSIC", Bell's Life in Sydney (28 October 1854), 2

We have, delayed acknowledgmcnt of a copy of "The Australian Rifle Corps March", composed and dedicated to Fatherland, by Mr. George Uhr, in the expectation of receiving a piano, the usual and necessary accompaniment of such presentation, whereby to test the merits of the composition. We have scarcely the presumption to hope that the instrument hallowed by the touch of the divine Catherine will be presented to us for the purpose, by Messrs. Johnson and Co.; but we confidently anticipate the arrival of a respectable "Cottage" or "Cabinet" from the establishment within the next week, when we shall be enabled to march into the "Rifle Corps March".

"DEATHS", The Sydney Morning Herald (27 December 1858), 1

"MARRIAGES", Empire (10 March 1860), 4

"DEATHS", Empire (12 September 1864), 1

"DEATH", The Brisbane Courier (24 September 1864), 4

"Deaths", The Sydney Morning Herald (7 March 1896), 1

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (21 July 1893), 2

"MARRIAGES", The Sydney Morning Herald (15 December 1909), 8

"MUSIC & MUSICIANS . . . BY G. LOVELL DWYER", Evening News (10 May 1924), 3 

"You Love Me Not." - The song is very rarely heard now, but an old copy turned up accidentally, just as old songs do sometimes, at a private gathering. Many Sydney people will remember the late Mr. W. C. Uhr, who was the first returning officer for East Sydney and Deputy Under-Sheriff for 15 years, and who died in 1896. He was very prominent in musical circles in the 50's and 60's. He had a baritone voice, and composed a number of songs, of which "You Love Me Not" was one. His son, Mr. C. I. K. Uhr, secretary of the Church of England Association of New South Wales, once found a copy of the song in a shop window.

Mr. W. C. Uhr sang at Government House in Sir Charles Fitzroy's time; and he received from his friends the title of "Bandbox Uhr," because he clung to the habit of wearing a top-hat.

Mr. Uhr was the author of verses written "In memorian" of Miss Mary Jane Balcombe, daughter of Mr. W. A. Balcombe, who was an officer in the Treasury Department. This lady died on the morning of Boxing Day, 1858. Mr. C. I. K. Uhr has a copy of the song yet. The music was composed by Judge Meymott, who was a musician of taste. The Judge used to vary the dry court work when on circuit by playing the organs in the country churches.

The wife of Mr. C. I. K. Uhr is a pianist. She received her early lessons in Sydney from Mr. Charles d'Apice. Later she went to England, and had the benefit of lessons from Sir Julius Benedict and Sir Charles Halle. She appeared in Sydney on many occasions as a solo pianist. When 15 years of age she was the organist at St. David's Church, Dobroyde, now Haberfield.

Bibliography and resources:

Blanche Mitchell diary, 27 January 1858 - February 1861; MLMSS 1611, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales (TRANSCRIPT)

On the death of Elizabeth Balcombe, see

"CONSTANCE", The Christian Lady's Magazine new series 11 (August 1856), 511

Edna Hickson (ed.), Blanche: an Australian diary 1858-1861: the diary of Blanche Mitchell (Sydney: John Ferguson, 1980), 57-58 (after original MS diary, SL-NSW, ML MSS 1611: Papers of Blanche Mitchell

See also Uhr family correspondence, 1843-1873: SL-NSW, MLMSS 946  

UPSON, Charles A. (Charles UPSON; Mr. C. A. UPSON)

Tenor vocalist, minstrel, delineator (Howard's Serenaders), clown, actor

Active Sydney, NSW, and Hobart, TAS, 1853 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (14 January 1853), 3

[Advertisement], Empire (2 March 1853), 1

[Advertisement], The Courier (28 May 1853), 2

[Advertisement], The Courier (2 June 1853), 2 

[Advertisement], The Argus (1 January 1873), 8 

URIE, Louisa

Soprano vocalist, Scotch ballad singer

Active Melbourne, VIC, by 1853 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


"THE QUEEN'S THEATRE", The Argus (15 October 1853), 5

[Advertisement], The Argus (31 August 1854), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (16 December 1854), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (16 June 1855), 8

"PUBLIC AMUSEMENTS AT MELBOURNE", The Courier (22 June 1855), 3

[Advertisement], Bendigo Advertiser (26 May 1856), 3

"WALLACE MONUMENT CONCERT", Bendigo Advertiser (14 April 1857), 3

"A SCOTTISH HAMELY SANG", Bendigo Advertiser (15 December 1857), 3

"THE CONCERTS", Bendigo Advertiser (3 June 1859), 2 

URSO, Camilla

Violinist, impresario

Born Nantes, France, 13 June 1842
Arrived (1) Sydney, NSW, 30 September 1879 (per R.M.S. Australia, from San Francisco, Honolulu and Auckland)
Departed (1) Sydney, NSW, 8 April 1880 (per Rotorua, for Auckland)
Arrived (2) Adelaide, SA, 2 May 1894 (per Ville de la Ciotat)
Departed (2) Melbourne, VIC, late November 1894
Died New York, NY, USA, 20 January 1902, aged 60 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


"Camillo [sic] Urso", Evening News (13 September 1879), 5

By the next San Francisco mail there comes to us an artiste whose fame has for years resounded through the capitals of Europe, and wherever music finds an echo in the hearts of the people. Lady violinists are very rare, the difficulties to be overcome in attaining anything like proficiency in the art of playing this instrument being so great as to discourage any but those who have genius and a large share of patience and perseverance; and the number of those who have attained to eminence in the front rank of artistes is small indeed. The sisters Milanolo astonished the world 30 years ago. Mdlle. Neruda (now Madame Norman Neruda), has long been one of the reigning favourites of the musical world; later "our own" (as she was called, having been so great a favourite here), Jenny Claus, are the only names that can be recalled during the present age; but that of Camilla Urso has reached far and wide as one of the purest and most graceful players that has ever appeared in public. Musical papers speak of her as an artist by nature as well as by skill and culture; and the greatest masters of music have testified to her bright intellectual powers. Desirous of extending her conquests, Camilla Urso has arranged for a tour through Australia, and we shall very shortly have the opportunity of appreciating her merits.

"SHIPPING", Australian Town and Country Journal (4 October 1879), 36

"MADAME CAMILLA URSO", The Mercury (28 October  1879), 2

"CAMILLA URSO", The Sydney Morning Herald (19 January 1880), 6 [biography]

"MUSIC AND THE DRAMA", The Sydney Morning Herald (9 April 1880), 8

Madame Camilla Urso has just brought another brilliant and profitable series of concerts to a close; and, after a tour through New Zealand, is to leave us for America. Night after night of late, in the worst possible weather, the Masonic Hall was crowded by delighted listeners, who recalled the artiste again and again after she had performed the solos set down for her on the programme. Urso is undoubtedly the greatest violinist that has over visited Australia, and though to some of us Joachim, Ole Bull, and others of the phenomenal violinists of the age are memories, the lady has won from everybody cordial recognition of her earnest study and natural genius. Both qualities have combined to make her what she is, and both may be traced in the extensive range of her musical knowledge, and the power of intense expression, which add such a charm to her wonderfully accurate execution . . ..

"Shipping", Evening News (8 April 1880), 2

"ADELAIDE", The Argus (3 May 1894), 6

"MADAME CAMILLA URSO'S FAREWELL CONCERT", The Argus (28 November 1894), 6

"PERSONAL NOTES FROM ENGLAND", The Register (17 March 1902), 6

"MUSIC AND DRAMA", The Brisbane Courier (22 March 1902), 9

Relevant musical works:

Call me thine own (song; music by Halévy; Sung by Madame De Vere Sapio, at the Sapio-Urso concerts; violin obbligato arranged by Madame Camilla Urso) (Sydney : Nicholson & Co., [1894]) [cover image of the 2 artists]

Bibliography and resources:

USHER, Alfred (senior)

Violinist, theatre orchestra leader, composer

Born England, ? (son of Richard Usher)
Active Sydney, NSW, by 1857
Died Invercargill, NZ, 1864 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

USHER, Alfred Samuel (junior)

Musicseller, choral singer

Born c.1852
Died Randwick, NSW, 11 September 1915, aged 63


[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (27 August 1857), 1

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (30 September 1858), 1

[Advertisement], Empire (2 July 1859), 3

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (24 November 1859), 1

[Advertisement], Bendigo Advertiser (7 December 1860), 1

[Advertisement], Bendigo Advertiser (22 July 1861), 1

[News], Southland Times (21 June 1864), 2 

We regret to hear of the death of Mr. A. Usher, the leader of the orchestra at the Theatre Royal. This event will be lamented by a wide circle of friends and also by the general public, as he was a gentleman of undoubted talent in musical matters, and was much esteemed by all with whom he came in contact.

[News], The Argus (5 July 1864), 4

The Southland papers announce the death of Mr. Alfred Usher, the musical director of the Invercargill Theatre. Mr. Usher, who was an accomplished musician, was connected with some well known members of the dramatic profession. His father was Mr. Richard Usher, the architect, and his mother a sister of Mr. Henry Wallack. Mr. Alfred Usher's sister is the well-known Mrs. Alfred Wigan, and he was connected by marriage with the Keeley's. He was leader of the orchestra in Sydney when Madame Anna Bishop appealed in the opera company.

"DEATH OF ALFRED USHER", The Sydney Morning Herald (13 September 1915), 10

Mr. Alfred Usher, who started his business career with Messrs. Elvy and Co., and continued it with 33 years' service in a position of trust at Messrs. W. H. Paling's music warehouse, passed away after a few days illness from pneumonia, at a private hospital in Randwick late on Saturday afternoon. The deceased, who was 63 years of age, was widely esteemed in musical circles for his kindly and unselfish disposition. He was one of the oldest members of the Royal Sydney Liedertafel, and sang with them at the brilliant send-off concert to Mrs. Armstrong (Mme. Melba) in 1885, and in 1889 he was with that choir when it assisted the Philharmonic in the memorable Charles Santley performance of "Elijah". . . . His wife, Mrs. Brandon Usher, was away visiting her daughter Mrs. Gilchrist (formerly known on the comedy stage as Beatrice Usher), in Western Australia. His only other daughter, the wife of Commander Balkie Simpson, R.N.R., a pianist prominent here as Constance Brandon Usher was also absent as she settled with her husband in Yokohama some weeks back.

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2019