Hart, Fritz (Bennicke)
- Anne-Marie Forbes
(b London, England, Feb 11, 1874; d Honolulu, HI, July 9, 1949). English composer, conductor, and educator. From the age of 10 to 13 he was a chorister at Westminster Abbey under Frederick Bridge. Stanford was a formative influence during Hart’s years studying at the RCM (1893–6), although he was not a composition student. His close friends there included Holst, Coleridge-Taylor, Hurlstone, and, later, Vaughan Williams and Ireland. Hart began his career as a theatre conductor and was musical director for several touring companies before moving to Australia in 1909 on a conducting engagement under the management of J.C. Williamson. By 1913 he was lecturing at the Albert Street Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne, and with Alfred Hill founded the visionary but short-lived Australian Opera League. In 1914 Hart became director of the Albert Street Conservatorium, succeeding its founder, George Marshall-Hall. Nellie Melba was a staunch supporter of Hart and his institution and founded a school of singing there shortly after and the institution was renamed Melba Conservatorium. The voices attracted to the Conservatorium and to its opera school proved a potent stimulus to Hart’s creative talents....