LAST MODIFIED Thursday 6 June 2019 9:34

George Oswald Rutter

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "George Oswald Rutter", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 16 September 2019

RUTTER, George Oswald (Mr. G. O. RUTTER)

Barrister, amateur vocalist, conductor, composer

Born Salford, England, 23 January 1822 (baptised St. John's Deansgate, Manchester, 15 April 1822)
Arrived Melbourne, by June 1856 (from Manchester, England)
Departed Melbourne, 6 May 1869 (per Lincolnshire, for London)
Died Hampstead, England, late 1884 (TROVE public tag)


"FATAL ACCIDENTS IN SALFORD. TWO MEN KILLED", Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (3 September 1853), 9

. . . An inquest was held the same evening on the bodies by Mr. G. O. Rutter, deputy coroner . . .

"SUICIDES FROM NERVOUS DISORDERS", Silurian, Cardiff, Merthyr, and Brecon Mercury, and South Wales General Advertiser (17 November 1855), 8

On Tuesday MR. G. O. Rutter, one of the deputy coroners of Lancashire, held an inquest at Denton on the body of Robert Stanley, a hatter, who commited suicide whilst labouring under great mental depression . . .

[Advertisement], The Argus (28 June 1856), 6 

IN the Supreme Court of the colony of Victoria. I, George Oswald Rutter, late of Manchester, in the county of Lancaster, in that part of the United Kingdon of Great Britain and Ireland called England, and now residing at No. 97 Collins-street east, in the city of Melbourne, in the colony of Victoria aforesaid, gentleman, one of the attomoys of Her Majesty's Court of Queen's Bench at Westminster, and a solicitor of the High Court of Chancery in England aforesaid, do hereby give notice that I intend, on the last day of the present term, to apply to be admitted an attorney, solicitor, and proctor of this honorable Court, and that my name and admission may be enrolled by the proper officer of the said Court. Dated this 26th day of June, 1856. GEORGE OSWALD RUTTER.

"SUPREME COURT", The Argus (10 July 1856), 5

[Advertisement], The Argus (15 August 1856), 8

"AMUSEMENTS", The Argus (16 September 1857), 6

"MELBOURNE", The Musical Times (1 March 1857), 11

A very efficient Philharmonic Society has been instituted in this flourishing city. The success attending its performances has been very decided. On the 17th of last October, they gave Acis and Galatea, with much completeness. Mrs. Testar, Mrs. McDougal, Mr. Ewart, and Mr. G. O. Rutter, were the principal performers. A miscellaneous selection followed. The acting Governor and suite were present.

"MELBOURNE", The Musical Times (1 January 1858), 175

[Advertisement], The Argus (8 September 1859), 8

"NEW MUSIC", The Argus (29 November 1859), 5 

NEW MUSIC. - "O that we two were maying," two-part song. Words by the Rev. Chas. Kingsley. Music by G. O. Rutter. - The German predilections of Mr. Rutter are as apparent in this simple and not inelegant duett as in his work of larger pretensions performed at the last concert of the Philharmonic Society, namely, "The Second Advent." In listening to this duett we cannot but recall to mind dreamy remembrances of "When the swallows homeward fly," or "I would that my love;" not that we wish to institute any charge of plagiarism against Mr. Rutter, but that the characteristics of his style are Teutonic. We cordially recommend this composition for two treble voices to the attention of the young ladies of Melbourne, and hope that its encouragement will stimulate the composer to still higher efforts. We must, however, find two faults, or rather the same fault repeated, in the rhythm of this work. The phrase commencing the vocal portion of the duett is of 11 bars' dura- tion, which is again repeated when the air is resumed. The ear feels unsatisfied with either one bar too much or one too little; and should there be any necessity for a second edition (which we hope may be the case) we recommend Mr. Rutter to correct this error. The words are from Mr. Kingsley's "Saint's Tragedy."

"PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY", The Age (14 September 1859), 5 

Last evening the Philharmonic Society gave their third concert for the current year at the Exhibition Building, before a large and fashionable audience. The programme included Rossini's "Stabat Mater," a work to the interpretation of which the Society have before addressed themselves with success; and a sacred cantata, entitled "The Second Advent," written expressly for the Society by Mr. G. O. Rutter, of this city . . . The second part of the concert consisted of Mr Rutter's cantata, "The Second Advent," the conduct of which devolved on the composer himself, who, on making his appearance in the orchestra, was very flatteringly received. The work is one of much merit, both as respects design and execution, though perhaps too close a resemblance to the styles of Mendelssohn and Spohr may be traced in the majority of the pieces. Yet there is nothing approaching plagiarism, and much that deserved the application of the term orginal. The choruses, "We give thee thanks," and the terminal, "The Lord is King," and the aria, 'O, tarry thou the Lord's leisure," and the quartett, "And there shall be no more death," are perhaps the best passages in the work. The quartett and the opening chorus, "Awake, thou that sleepest," were enthusiastically encored. The former was sung without accompaniment by Miss Hamilton, Mrs. Hancock, Mr. Ewart, and Mr. Farquharaon, and is a truly charming composition. At the close of the performance the composer was greeted with another round of applause . . .

"POLLARD V. WILKIE. TO THE EDITOR", The Argus (17 November 1859), 6 

[Advertisement], The Argus (22 June 1860), 8

"THE THEATRES", The Age (6 April 1863), 5 

. . . The most effective bit of spectacle was the funeral procession of the seeming-dead Juliet. The mourners bear her through a cathedral nave, with oriel windows, to a catafalque within. A requiem (composed for the occasion by Mr. G. O. Rutter), was performed by the band. The entire scene was excellently managed, without the exaggeration which sometimes betrays the mockery . . .

[News], Leader (29 August 1863), 14 

A new musical composition, the production of Mr G. O. Rutter, and technically styled a "Mass," is to be performed for the first time to-morrow, at the morning service in St. Francis's Catholic Cathedral. A similar work, so far as we can learn, has not before been attempted in the colony.

[Advertisement], The Argus (10 September 1863), 3

[Advertisement], The Argus (25 February 1864), 8

"GOOD FRIDAY CONCERT", The Argus (26 March 1864), 6

The experiment made last evening, at St. George's-hall, of giving a concert of sacred music on Good Friday, resulted in much success in an artistic point of view, but something like the opposite in a commercial sense . . . The great feature of the evening, however, was the performance for the first time of a mass composed by Mr. G. O. Rutter, an amateur well known in Melbourne musical circles, and who has already appeared before a Melbourne audience as a composer. It is impossible, so soon after a first hearing, to pass very accurate critical judgement on a work of such magnitude, and as it is not at all likely that much time will pass before a second performance, this is of less importance. One thing is certain, that it is rarely that an amateur has produced music so eminently suited to the popular ear. A most unlearned audience cannot fail to be struck with a sense of a thousand beauties which they would fail to appreciate in a work of higher merit. Each phase of religious feeling has been set to music, as it were, in the plaintive strains, followed by others more solemn, and all culminating in bursts of triumphant melody, which roused no inconsiderable degree of enthusiasm in otherwise immobile hearers. Whether the effects produced were legitimate must be left for future decision, but the fact as now recorded must remain the same. Compliments of a high kind must be passed to the performers. The piece was produced under peculiar advantages. Mr. Rutter was conductor, and among the instrumentalists were - first violin, Mr. W. C. Fisher; second violin, Mr. C. E. Horsley; tenor, Mr. G. R. G. Pringle; violincello, Mr. F. A. Howson; flute, M. Siede; oboe, Herr Schott; and clarionet, Herr Lundberg. Throughout, the instrumentation was excellent, a fact greatly owing to Mr. Horsley, who scored the band parts from Mr. Rutter's music, which was written for the pinnoforte. The wind instruments were particularly good. The choir was made up of members of the Philharmonic Society and the St. Francis Catholic Cathedral choir, and were assisted by Miss Bertha Watson and Mr. Exon. They had evidently been well drilled, scarcely a fault being discernable. The soloists were Miss G. Watson, Miss M. A. Liddle, and Messrs. C. H. Donaldson and - Power, but, excepting in the case of Miss Liddle, thero was no particular merit displayed. They had studied well, however, and their efforts were deservingly applauded. At the conclusion of the mass, which ended with one of the opening strains, Mr. Rutter was loudly complimented by the audience, who could not but feel pleasure in knowing that such works could be originated in Melbourne.

[News], The Ballarat Star (24 April 1865), 2 

"LAW REPORT", The Argus (4 November 1865), 6 

INSOLVENT COURT. Friday, Nov. 3 . . . Certificates of discharge were granted to the following insolvents, there being no opposition: - Wm. Crozier, of Heathcote, baker; G. O. Rutter, of Melbourne, solicitor . . .

[Advertisement], The Argus (19 October 1867), 7

MR. RUTTER'S MASS - Subscribers may have their copies on application to Messrs Lee and Kaye, music warehouse, 80 Swanston street. G. O. Rutter.

"ITEMS OF NEWS", Mount Alexander Mail (16 April 1868), 2 

We recently intimated that Rutter's Mass in D would be sung at the Church of St. Mary, Hargreave-street, at the Easter festival. The sacred edifice, in spite of the inclement weather, contained a large congregation, and the Rev. Patrick Moore, who has worked so energetically and successfully in this mission, officiated at the solemn sacrifice. The musical composition to which reference has been made is by a colonial author, and as such possesses much that is meritorious . . .

"NEW INSOLVENTS", The Argus (3 March 1869), 5 

George Oswald Rutter, Melbourne, solicitor. Causes of insolvency - falling off in business, and having incurred liabilities for another for which he was held responsible. Liabilities, £324 2s. 6d.; assets, £15; deficiency, £309 2s. 6d.

"THE MONTH", Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (29 March 1869), 57 

. . . Mr. G. O. Rutter has exchanged the legal for the musical profession. Several of his concerted pieces are well known to the musical world . . .

"CLEARED OUT", The Argus (7 May 1869), 4

"FUNERAL OF THE LATE HON. J. P. FAWKNER", The Argus (9 September 1869), 6:

"DEATHS", The Argus (23 April 1870), 4 

RUTTER. - On the 3rd inst, of gastric fever, at Emerald hill, George Oswald Collins Rutter, oldest son of George Oswald Rutter, solicitor, late of Melbourne. Manchester papers please copy.

Catalogue of the Library of the Supreme Court of Victoria (Melbourne: Stillwell and Knight, printers, 1875), xiii 

Rutter, George Oswald [Admission] E[ngland] Nov. 24, 1852 [Victoria] July 9, 1856

"THE MELBOURNE PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY: I", The Argus (25 December 1878), 6

"THE MELBOURNE PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY: II", The Argus (13 January 1879), 6

"EXTRAORDINARY CONDUCT OF A WOMAN", Sheffield Independent (23 December 1881), 4

At the Marylebone Police-court, on Wednesday, Elizabeth Le Jeune, 32, a married woman, respectably attired, and living at 53, Belsize road, Hampstead, was charged on remand with being drunk and riotous, cutting the gas pipes and attempting to set fire to the house, and threatening to commit suicide by jumping from the top of the house. - Mr. G. O. Rutter, solicitor, defended . . .

Extant musical works

Beauty, sweet beauty bright (written by C. E. Gibbs; composed by G. O.Rutter) (Melbourne: Joseph Wilkie, [18-?]) (State Library of Queensland)

Mass in D (London: Novello, 1866/67; paid for by local subscription, Melbourne: Lee & Kaye, 1867) (copies at St. Francis's Church, Melbourne; images reproduced by kind permission)

Stars of the Summer Night. Four-Part Song. Words by Longfellow (London: The Choir, etc. No. 178, 1870)

(London, British Library, Music Collections P.P.1945.hc, BLL01004630131)


John Henry Byrne, Sacred or profane: the influence of Vatican legislation on music in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 1843-1938 (Ph.D thesis, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, 2005) 

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2019