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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....


Anne-Marie Forbes and Rob Barnett

[Josef] (Charles)

(b Croydon, England, July 5, 1878; d London, England, Aug 5, 1958). English composer, critic, conductor, and pianist. A prominent figure in British musical life in the early decades of the 20th century, he was a great publicist and advocate for the cause of the British composer and for his own works. Throughout his life he railed against public and institutional apathy towards native composition, becoming progressively disillusioned.

After studying at the RAM, Holbrooke’s career was launched with the first performance of his dramatic musical representation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven at the Crystal Palace in 1900. Commissions of large-scale choral works for provincial festivals further established him as a young composer of great promise. Henry Wood, Thomas Beecham, and Dan Godfrey conducted premières of a number of his early orchestral and choral works, although later in life he became estranged from many of his earlier supporters. It was Lord Howard de Walden (T.E. Ellis) who was the most influential figure in Holbrooke’s career. Present at the ...


Faye Patton


(b Douglas, Isle of Man, July 29, 1862; d Melbourne, Dec 4, 1932). Australian composer. She received early musical training in Edinburgh with MacKenzie before emigrating to Australia with her family. Her brother, Samuel McBurney, completed the doctorate in music in Dublin and became an authority on solfège. She studied at the University of Melbourne (BMus 1896), becoming the first female graduate in music. Her early distinction as a composer grew with the completion of her opera, The Dalmatian, which gained her a reputation as the first Australian woman opera composer. From 1918 she taught languages at the University Conservatorium, Melbourne, as well as teaching the piano privately. At the time of her death she had completed 40 works.

McBurney was drawn to Nordic and classical themes in her programmatic and vocal music. Her larger-scale compositions reveal a mixture of influences, including 19th-century German Romanticism and English choral music. Her songs, written in the style of the English and French art song, and her idiomatic piano pieces were well known during her lifetime; ...


[Maude; Aldon, Sonia ]

(b London, Nov 16, 1864; d Melbourne, Nov 8, 1949). Australian composer. A musically gifted child, she received early training through a scholarship to the National Training School for Music, London (diploma 1882). She went on to study at the Leipzig Hochshule für Musik, where her teachers included Adolph Brodsky and Gustav Schradieck. She also studied with Joseph Joachim in Berlin. On her return to Birmingham, she became established as a performer and conductor. Her compositions from this period include a lieder cycle, several solo songs and most of her first opera, Ekkehard (completed around 1910).

After emigrating to Melbourne in 1906 with her husband, a distinguished botanist, and their sons, Ewart began a long period of compositional activity. She gained early success with the ode God Guide Australia, composed for the 1907 Exhibition of Women’s Works. She pursued further study on several visits to England and Europe, working with Giacomo Settacciole and Ottorino Respighi in Italy between ...