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Article

Christine Logan

[Robert] (Ewing)

(b Sydney, Aug 23, 1891; d Sydney, Nov 12, 1944). Australian composer and pianist. He studied the piano in Sydney with Daisy Miller, Sydney Moss and Emanuel de Beaupuis and composition briefly with Alfred Hill at the NSW Conservatorium. From 1920 Agnew's pieces were performed by several eminent pianists, including Moiseiwitsch, Murdoch and Gieseking. Working in London from 1923 to 1928, Agnew studied composition and orchestration with Gerrard Williams. The Fantasie Sonata was given its première there by Murdoch in 1927 and, on his return to Sydney in 1928, the tone poem The Breaking of the Drought was conducted by Hill. From 1928 to 1935 Agnew performed and broadcast both in Australia and Britain, while from 1935 onwards he taught the piano, composition and a class entitled ‘General Interpretation and the Art of Pedalling’ privately in Sydney. For five years from 1938 Agnew presented a weekly radio programme for the ABC in which he introduced a wide spectrum of 20th-century music, including his own. In ...

Article

Ernie Gallagher

(Anthony)

(b Sydney, Nov 2, 1947; d Sydney, Jan 31, 1988). Australian composer. He studied with Butterley and Meale, and began composing at a young age, writing many works, the most significant being After Mallarmé (1966). Following this came Music for Nine and Ned Kelly Music, the latter representing a break with European tradition. During the late 1960s and the 1970s Ahern continued to challenge the Sydney music establishment with his unconventional works and uncompromisingly avant-garde ideals.

In 1968 Ahern studied with Stockhausen, gaining a diploma in new music from the Rheinische Musikschule in Cologne and attending the Darmstadt summer course. On returning to Australia, he completed his next work, Journal (1969), commissioned for Australia’s bicentenary. In 1969 Ahern returned to Germany to work as Stockhausen’s assistant. He then travelled to London where he was included in the early concerts of Cardew’s newly formed Scratch Orchestra....

Article

Stephen Montague

(Michael Gordon)

(b Stratford, NZ, Feb 22, 1935; d Paris, May 27, 1987). British composer of New Zealand birth. He went to England at the age of 17 to study the piano at the RAM (1952–6). He remained in the UK and in 1969 began teaching at Morley College, London, where he became interested in live electronics and the work of Stockhausen. In 1973 he formed the West Square Electronic Music Ensemble (1973–87) from students at Morley, and in 1975 it gave its first professional performance at St John’s, Smith Square. In 1979 he co-founded the Electro-Acoustic Music Association of Great Britain (now Sonic Arts Network) and became its first chairman. His music was influenced by the post-Webern aesthetic, particularly in the three Piano Pieces with live electronics, Colla voce and Arc. As a composer Anderson was largely self-taught; this, along with his early lack of confidence as a New Zealander abroad, made him sometimes appear more at ease helping other composers realize their works than composing his own. He made six elaborate realizations of Stockhausen’s ...

Article

Patricia Brown

(Henry)

(b Sydney, April 8, 1904; d Sydney, Dec 29, 1986). Australian composer. At the age of ten Antill joined St Andrew's Cathedral Choir School, Sydney, and later trained as an apprenticed mechanical draghtsman with the NSW Government Railways. He studied composition with Alfred Hill at the NSW Conservatorium, and in 1932 he joined the J.C. Williamson Imperial Opera Company as a tenor and rehearsal conductor. He began work with the ABC in 1936 and was to remain there until his retirement 33 years later. In 1949 he was appointed federal music editor, in which capacity he became arbiter in the selection of new Australian and overseas compositions submitted for broadcasting. He supported many musical organizations and was made an OBE (1971) and a CMG (1981) for his services to music.

Antill's achievement rests primarily but securely on the significance of Corroboree. Though it was originally conceived as a ballet, it was in its more focussed form as a concert suite that the work was first performed in ...

Article

Patricia Brown

(Jeffrey)

(b Liverpool, Feb 17, 1950). Australian performer and composer, of English birth. After studying English at the University of New South Wales (1969–77) he worked as a solo and ensemble player on a wide range of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque string, wind and percussion instruments; he also specialized in folk instruments from a variety of countries. This instrumental ability led him to work with cross-cultural groups such as Sirocco, Southern Crossings (a world music quartet founded by Atherton in 1986), and Ariel (a quartet founded in 1995 to explore new music for shakuhachi, didjeridu, percussion and electronics); he has toured and lectured widely with these groups in Australia and abroad. He has also worked as a music therapist, and was curator of instruments at the Australian Museum in Sydney (1993 and 1998). In 1993 he was appointed foundation professor of music at the University of Western Sydney, Nepean. His interests include urban ethnomusicology, organology and Korean music. His work as a composer, arranger and improviser includes film scores, and choral and chamber works....

Article

Jeff Pressing, John Whiteoak and Roger T. Dean

[Judith Mary ]

(b Auckland, New Zealand, Oct 3, 1935). New Zealand pianist and composer. After arriving in Sydney in 1960 she quickly became a prominent studio musician. She led a succession of trios and larger groups and worked with many important Australian players, including Don Burrows and Errol Buddle; she was also active in education, notably as a staff member of the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music (from 1990, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music) and as music director of the Sydney Youth Jazz Ensemble. Her compositional output increased considerably during the 1970s, when she wrote film scores and music for children. Bailey participated in performances of Don Banks’s Nexus for jazz quintet and orchestra, and made several recordings. In the 1980s she undertook several tours of Asia and in the 1990s she remained active, recording again as a leader in 1992.

Article

Warren Burt

(Rosalie Edith )

(b Geelong, Victoria, Aug 18, 1951). Australian composer, performer, installation and sound artist, instrument inventor, writer, educator, and researcher. Her early education consisted of high school in both Australia and Canada, followed by a BA (1971, Monash University), Dip Ed (1973, Monash), MA (1974, Monash), and PhD (1983, Monash). An interest in experimental music is apparent from her earliest compositions, many of which involve performance in specific places, improvisation, electronics, graphic notation, and the use of self-built and specially built instruments. These include Improvisations in Acoustic Chambers, 1981, and Soft and Fragile: Music in Glass and Clay, 1982. By 1977 an interest in sound installation and sound sculpture had become well established in her work (Winds and Circuits, Surfaces and Cavities), and is an area in which she has continued to the present day, having presented nearly 50 sound installations worldwide.

Bandt has also been involved in creating electro-acoustic works, often in collaboration with broadcasting organizations; work for or with radio forms a significant portion of her output. Many of these works, while using real-world elements, take a more narrative or illustrative approach to their material compared to the abstractionism of much electro-acoustic work. An electro-acoustic work such as ...

Article

Richard Toop

(b South Melbourne, Oct 25, 1923; d Sydney, Sept 5, 1980). Australian composer. The son of a professional jazz musician, Banks grew up in a house full of musical instruments, and learned to play several. He developed an early interest in jazz, sitting in as trombonist in Roger and Graeme Bell’s jazz band. Following wartime service, the army rehabilitation scheme enabled him to undertake musical studies at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (1947–9), where he studied composition with Nickson and Le Gallienne; his fellow students included the composer Keith Humble, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship. During this period he became the founder and pianist of the Don Banks Boptet which was one of Australia’s first bebop groups.

In 1950 Banks went to London, where work as secretary to Edward Clark, the head of music at the BBC and a former Webern pupil, soon brought him into contact with the more progressive circles in London’s musical life. He studied composition with Seiber, and later, in ...

Article

Aaron Corn

(b Mount Isa, June 4, 1981). Australian didjeriduist, improviser, and composer. He is an indigenous didjeridu virtuoso who has performed at concerts and festivals worldwide. From an early age, Barton learnt didjeridu from his uncle, an indigenous elder of Waanyi, Lardil, and Kalkadunga descent from western Queensland, and by the age of 12 he was backing public performances by indigenous dance troupes in Sydney. He toured the USA in this role at the age of 15, which inspired him to study music more broadly and build his own solo career. Barton made his début performance with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in 1998, and was the first didjeriduist to be an artist-in-residence with a symphony orchestra.

Barton has since sustained a significant collaboration with Peter Sculthorpe, who was drawn to Barton's fine sense of form and ensemble when playing with large orchestras. Sculthorpe’s Requiem (2004) for chorus, didjeridu, and orchestra was composed to feature Barton as soloist, and was given its première at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in ...

Article

Warren A. Bebbington

(Margaret)

(b Sydney, May 7, 1944). Australian composer. After studying at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney (1961–2) and working as a stage and television actress, she took a music degree at the University of Sydney in 1967. She moved to England in 1969, studying with Lutyens and Hans Keller and taking a PhD at the University of York in 1974. She won first prize at the Paris Rostrum in 1974 and was music director at the Laban Centre, London (1975–8), then composer-in-residence at the NSW State Conservatorium, Sydney, from 1978; since then she has taught at Hollins College, London. Many of her works have been heard in Europe, including at the Aldeburgh, York and Edinburgh Festivals.

Bauld’s output focusses on works with a vocal or dramatic element, such as her ballad opera Nell (1988) which, like its antecedents, seeks to find a voice for the harshness of life in early colonial Australia. ‘I consciously seek literary, aural and visual stimuli,’ she has written. ‘When the text is complete I know where I am going.’ More recently, she has produced a series of keyboard tutors ...

Article

Graham Hair and Greta Mary Hair

[Elizabeth] (Mary)

(b nr Bundaberg, Queensland, Nov 19, 1932). Australian composer. She studied at the Sydney Conservatorium with Frank Hutchens and at the Queensland Conservatorium, where she was later appointed lecturer and accompanist (1969). She represented women composers of Australia at the 3rd International Congress on Women in Music, Mexico City (1984), and was on the executive board of the International League of Women Composers (1986–7, 1988–9). In 1987 she was resident composer at North Adams State College, Massachusetts.

During the 1970s she spent some time in Indonesia with her husband, the writer and illustrator David Cox, studying the cultures of Bali and Java, and her compositions show the influence of these cultures. Her output includes stage works for children’s voices to librettos by Cox, and a large number of vocal chamber works; the cycle Songs from the Beasts’ Choir (1978) has been one of her most successful compositions....

Article

Bruce Johnson

revised by Roger T. Dean

(Emerson) [Gay]

(b Melbourne, Australia, Sept 7, 1914; d Sydney, June 13, 2012). Australian bandleader, composer, and pianist, brother of Roger Bell. He began classical piano studies at the age of 11, and was introduced to jazz by his brother. In 1941 he held a pioneering jazz residency at Leonard’s Café in Melbourne and played for the Contemporary Art Society, indicating his radical interests. After working briefly in Queensland (1943) he returned to Melbourne, where he took over the group led by his brother at Heidelberg Town Hall and performed regularly for the Hot Jazz Society of the communist Eureka Youth League. In 1946 he started the Uptown Club in their premises and helped to inaugurate the Australian Jazz Convention. Having established his reputation in Australia with recordings in the dixieland style made in 1947, he toured Europe with his band (1947–8) under the Eureka’s sponsorship. In England his “jazz for dancing” policy was influential in promoting the acceptance of jazz as a major form of youth entertainment. In ...

Article

Bruce Johnson

(Emerson )

(b Melbourne, Australia, Jan 4, 1919; d Melbourne, Australia, June 17, 2008). Australian trumpeter, washboard player, composer, singer, and bandleader, brother of Graeme Bell. He first worked as a drummer, then in 1938 began to play cornet. Having worked in Melbourne with his brother at Leonard’s Café, he briefly led the band at Heidelberg Town Hall (1943), where he recorded with a visiting Max Kaminsky, before Graeme Bell returned from Queensland to take over the group’s leadership. He remained in Graeme’s dixieland groups during their European tours (1947–8, 1950–52), after which he worked with Max Collie (1953) and in the house band at the Melbourne Jazz Club (from 1958). Bell was active as a freelance musician and led his own band, the Pagan Pipers (a name he had used first in 1949), which with various personnel (notably Len Barnard and Ade Monsbourgh) performed and recorded for many years; among its recordings were a number of Bell’s own compositions. His playing may be heard to advantage on ...

Article

Peter J. Pirie

revised by Robert Barnett

(Leslie)

(b Sydney, Sept 18, 1893; d London, April 10, 1960). Australian-English composer and pianist. After general education at Brisbane Grammar School he entered the RCM at 18, studying composition there with Stanford; a common admiration for Brahms eased his path with that teacher. Benjamin remained at the RCM until the outbreak of war in 1914, when he joined the infantry, later transferring to the air force. After the war he was for a short time a piano teacher at the Sydney Conservatorium, but his need for European musical life brought him back to London in 1921. His first published work, a string quartet, appeared in 1924 and won a Carnegie Award, and in 1926 Benjamin joined the staff of the RCM. An early enthusiasm for the music of Gershwin stimulated his Piano Concertino (1926), which he declared to have been influenced by the Rhapsody in Blue...

Article

J.M. Thomson

(b Lower Hutt, Aug 31, 1945). New Zealand composer, pianist, writer and teacher. She grew up in a musical family and began piano lessons at the age of seven. She graduated from the University of Otago, first in English and then in piano and composition (BMus 1968) and musicology (MA 1969). A New Zealand University Grants Committee scholarship took her to Victoria University in Wellington where she studied electronic music under Douglas Lilburn, gaining a diploma (1970). She subsequently studied in Berlin and Cologne (1971–5) with Aloys Kontarsky, Wilhelm Hecker, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel, being warded the Kranichstein Prize in new music (1974) and a Boswil Artistic Residency in Switzerland (1975). She married the singer Roger Wilson, returned to New Zealand as Mozart Fellow (1976–7), and after diverse experience in teaching, editing Canzona (journal of the Composers’ Association of New Zealand, whose President she was from ...

Article

Adrienne Simpson

(Hugh )

( b Christchurch, Jan 5, 1949). New Zealand composer and administrator . After initially working as a civil engineer, he completed the BMus at Canterbury University, New Zealand, in 1973 and followed this with postgraduate composition studies at Southampton University with Eric Grabner and Jonathan Harvey. Since 1977 he has pursued twin careers in composition and performing arts administration. He was the chief executive of New Zealand's Ministry of Cultural Affairs (1991–7) and in 1997 became National Librarian and Chief Executive of the National Library of New Zealand. The practical knowledge of voices and instruments gained while managing the Canterbury Orchestra (1977–8), National Opera of New Zealand (1979–82) and Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra (1985–90) is evident in his music, which is notable for its clarity of thought and texture. Although underpinned by European organizational techniques, particularly serialism, his works project a strongly New Zealand spirit and imagery and are characterized by a finely judged instinct for theatrical gesture. Many of Blake's major scores reflect his concern for social issues, including the pacifist ...

Article

E. Douglas Bomberger

(b Montmédy, France, Aug 9, 1789; d Sydney, Australia, Jan 6, 1856). French harpist, conductor, and composer. A large and imposing man who was among the greatest harpists of the 19th century, Bochsa was denoted by Fétis “as distinguished an artist as he was a miserable man.” Bochsa fled France in 1817 to escape charges of forgery, contracted a bigamous marriage in England, declared bankruptcy in 1824, and eloped with the soprano Anna Bishop in 1839. The two toured Europe in the years following and traveled to New York in 1847. There Bishop’s singing and Bochsa’s playing triumphed over American moral outrage at their lifestyle, and the two achieved success on Broadway and in North American tours that took them to New Orleans in the south, Quebec in the north, and major cities in between. They toured Mexico from June 1849 to May 1850 and California in 1854...

Article

John Young

[John] (Stanley)

( b Te Aroha, Oct 7, 1944). New Zealand composer . He studied at the University of Auckland with Ronald Tremain, then, after an influential period working with Lilburn in the electro-acoustic music studio at Victoria University of Wellington, in Cologne with Kagel and at the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht. He was a guest lecturer at the Music Academy, Yogyakarta (1976–7), and since 1980 has taught at Victoria University of Wellington. His work as a composer embraces orchestral, chamber, music-theatre and electro-acoustic forms, as well as audio-visual installations which include his own photographic material. The most profound influence on his work has been his immersion in musical traditions of Asia which, through extensive fieldwork, particularly in Indonesia and parts of China, has provided him with much of his compositional material. Use of field recordings from such sources has characterized his electro-acoustic music since Musik dari jalan (‘Music from the Street’) (...

Article

Philip Nunn

(William George)

(b Beaufort, Victoria, May 4, 1942; d Norwich, May 30, 1975). Australian composer. After training as a teacher, he studied at the Melbourne University Conservatorium (1963–7), where he went on to hold a teaching position (1968–73). The following year he moved to England, where he taught at the University of East Anglia (1974–5). As curator of the Grainger Museum in Melbourne he was responsible for the reconstruction of aleatory works by Grainger, most notably Random Round, and with Keith Humble established one of the first electronic music studios at an Australian university. He is remembered for his innovative teaching style and for his introduction of avant-garde music to Australian audiences through the ISCM and the Melbourne Autumn Festival of Organ and Harpsichord. His compositions concentrate on chance elements within specific acoustic environments. After his accidental death, interest in his music was sustained through a series of commemorative recordings....

Article

J.M. Thomson

(b Wellington, Nov 16, 1952). New Zealand composer. One of a musical family, she studied the violin and piano with Gwyneth Brown who gave her a comprehensive and imaginative musical foundation. From 1977 she began to sing with vocal ensembles and choirs such as Cantoris. In 1982 she graduated (BMus) from the School of Music at Victoria University, Wellington, where she developed a special interest in ethnomusicology (which included playing and singing with the gamelan) and in early and contemporary music. In 1984 she joined Jack Body’s composition class for six months, writing Raindance and, after her father’s death, Black Rain. In 1991 she was awarded a substantial QEII Arts Council grant. Her experiments in electroacoustic music led to the montage Witch’s Mine (1991). She became resident composer at the Nelson School of Music in 1992 and the following year Mozart Fellow at the University of Otago. She enjoys writing for solo instruments, ensembles and orchestras, and favours music-theatre and multi-media works....