THIS PAGE LAST MODIFIED Thursday 26 November 2020 13:59


An online resource toward the history of music in colonial and early Federation Australia

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)

To navigate the site and links use the left sidebar

Pulldown menus for the Biographical register and Chronological checklist

For more information about the site, see About Australharmony


Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders are respectfully advised that this site and links contain names, images, and voices of dead persons


Australharmony acknowledges and pays respect to the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. It is upon their ancestral lands, and in respectful emulation of their example, that this site has been built and is maintained.


POSTED 11 MAY 2020

Wilkie, Webster and Co. . . . Melbourne, 1868
Wilkie, Webster and Co., advertisement, Melbourne, VIC, 1868

Sands & McDougall's Melbourne and suburban directory for 1868 (Melbourne: Sands & McDougall, 1868), [2] (DIGITISED)

See also earlier iteration of the same engraving, from the catalogue of the 1866 Intercolonial Exhibition: (DIGITISED)


More biographical register upgrades ...

Since New Year, the following further major upgrades have been uploaded for the letters K, A, and D, the latter newly split into D (Da-Dh) and D (Dia-Dz).

New dedicated mainpages have, meanwhile, been created for John Adams, James Henri Anderson and family, the Aldis family, Camille Del Sarte and family, the Draeger family, and William Augustine Duncan.


Australharmony's 2019 Pandora day ...

As usual Austalharmony is scheduled for its annual harvesting/archiving by the National Library of Australia's Pandora web archive on 22 December. Its Pandora address is: 

Some new pages and many major upgrades to old pages will thus for the first time find their way into Pandora, and thereby also into the grasp of TROVE's website search engines.

Among the major upgrades completed this year are revisions and expansions to the biographical resgsiters for the letters E, I, J, N, O, Q, U, V, and X,Y,Z (click on the blue letters to go to the pages in question)

New main pages have been uploaded this year on military bandmaster Thomas Kavanagh, colonial poet and songwriter Eliza Hamilton Dunlop, on the multi-instrumentalist Richard Wildblood Kohler and his brother John, on the Irish vocalist and composer Frederick William Horncastle,

Major upgrades have been made to the mainpages on Joseph and Madame Gautrot, William Henry Paling and family, and the Worgan family in Australian and New Zealand.

POSTED 5 August 2019

Songs of home at Sydney Living Museums

SONGS OF HOME - an exhibition featuring the colonial music of NSW - at the Museum of Sydney 10 August to 17 November 2019 

It draws together pages from the history of music in NSW during the first 70 years of the colony. This musical world is explored through recordings of early colonial music, rare instruments, printed scores, manuscripts, and remarkable stories of people celebrating their connection to "home" through song.

If you are unable to visit Sydney and the exhibition itself, you can browse the online support material and listen to the exhibition's streamed soundtrack, consisting of 60 specially selected samples of settler and Indigenous music, using either of the links below:

The recorded music is performed by Australian, British and American professional musicians, as well as by students at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. It also includes a series of specially commissioned contemporary works by Aboriginal composers, in partnership with the Ngarra-Burria First Peoples Composers initiative, with support from the Royal Australian Navy Band, highlighting the powerful and continuing presence of Aboriginal music making.

POSTED 26 January 2019

Anniversary day 1839, 180 years ago

Known simply as "anniversary day", 26 January was the day that the commemoration of the establishment of the colony was annually observed in the early colonial era.

"Anniversary of the Colony", The Australian (29 January 1839), 2 

John O'Neil, Isaac Solomons, Sophia Baker, Margaret Johnstone, Mary Ann Woodward, and Elizabeth Deering, were placed at the bar of the police-office yesterday, under the following circumstances. Inspector Price stated that he accompanied the assistant chief constable on Friday night to a house at the corner of Market and Elizabeth-streets, where an unusual noise was made by a party of noisy players upon instruments, the principle harmony being formed by the excellence of a big drummer, who was, in fact, sui generis, a character not to be equalled every day in the year. Having stationed constables round the place, Price ascended to the "ball-room" - a cock loft, and there saw assembled about fifty persons of both sexes, amongst whom were the prisoners. Mr. Solomons personated "Jem Crow" (the Colonel, who was on the bench, required an explanation of the character of said Jem Crow), "Sir," said Price, "He was dressed in a pair of bretches, covered with patches, had on a hat without a crown, his face blacked, and had a wooden leg." Mr. O'Neil was dressed as a Greek with a spangled tunic and small clouthes. Miss Woodward personated Don Giovanni in good style, and the other prisoners were in any character a person might chance to guess at ("that means," said the Colonel "they had no character"). After much merriment occasioned by the statement and cross-examination of the witness, the Colonel said, that as the day was an Anniversary, dear to the Australian public, the bench did not wish to be severe with the prisoners, but as the entertainment was given in a disorderly house, the prisoners were admonished not to frequent such places for the future, otherwise they would be severely dealt with. The Anniversary of the Colony being a time of joy and merriment, now excused them. They were accordingly discharged.

Also, on Anniversay day 1839, William Joseph Cavendish drowned on Sydney Harbour

POSTED 18 January 2019


It is really disgraceful to see the numbers of young tradesmen who, instead of repairing to a place of worship on Sunday, are in the weekly practice of leaving town for the bush, armed with muskets, and spending the whole day in parrot shooting, while others of them, accompanied by numbers of dissolute females, betake themselves to boating, and sail up and down the harbour, singing lewd and obscene songs . . .

18 January 1819 - 200 years ago in Sydney- Queen Caroline's birthday . . . guns, bands, pandean pipes, flutes, claronets, and violins

"Sydney", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (23 January 1819), 2-3

Monday last being the auspicious Day for celebrating the Anniversary of the Birth of Our revered and Gracious Queen, was observed as a Holiday throughout the Colony; and was hailed, as usual, with all those cordial demonstrations of loyalty and affection due to the distinguished occasion. At sunrise the Royal Standard was hoisted at Fort Phillip, and the Union at Dawes' Battery; from whence a Royal Salute was fired at 12 at noon; on the conclusion of which, the Troops in garrison, consisting of the head-quarters of the 48th Regiment, and detachments of nine other Regiments, which had been drawn out in Hyde Park in Presence of His Excellency the Governor, under the Command of His Honor Lieutenant Governor ERSKINE, Lieutenant Colonel of the 48th Regiment, fired a feu-de-joie, in honor of the day; they afterwards passed in review order before His Excellency, who, we understand, was much pleased with their military appearance, and the steady soldier-like manner in which they performed their evolutions.

His Excellency afterwards held a Levee at Government House, and received the compliments and congratulations of the Civil and Military Officers, Clergy, and Gentlemen of the Colony, whose appearance in rank and numbers very far surpassed any as- semblage of that kind than could ever before have taken place in this Country. An Ode, the production of our long and justly admired Laureat Bard, Mr. ROBINSON, was presented to His Excellency and recited at His desire by the Author, in a most impressive and interesting style and manner. The variety and brilliancy of allusion it contained, so happily and appropriately selected; the classic taste and poetic imagery which distinguished this chaste tribute of his muse, did not fail to produce most unqualified admiration and universal applause from every auditor. We have great pleasure in introducing it to our Readers in our present columns.

In the evening a splendid Ball and Supper were given at Government House, which displayed all the beauty and grace of the Colony. The room appropriated for dancing was decorated in a manner at once so fanciful and elegant, and presented such enchanting emblems of taste and judgment, that the eye found new delight, and discovered fresh beauties as it wandered to every surrounding object; besides the variegated lamps and wreath-encircled columns, graced with the simple hand of rural nature, the walls on all sides were happily enlivened with masterly sketches in chalks taken from subjects of oriental design and origin. The transparencies appeared, we think, to considerable advantage, probably owing to the judicious manner in which the light and shades were arranged with a view to give a more natural effect to the objects represented. At 11 o'clock the supper apartments were thrown open, and presented a splendid repast, at which about 170 Ladies and Gentlemen were entertained with all the elegant varieties of the season. Re-summoned to the sprightly dance by the novel and attractive sound of the Pandean Pipes, whose shrill tones were mellowed by the softer cadences of flutes, claronets, and violins; the company returned to the Ball-room, where the dancing continued with uncommon vivacity and spirit until four o'clock in the morning, when the party retired highly gratified with the superior and truly fascinating amusements of the evening.


Australharmony's 2018 Pandora day ...

As usual Austalharmony is scheduled for its annual harvesting/archiving by the National Library of Australia's Pandora on 22 December. Its Pandora address is: 

Some new pages and many major upgrades to old pages will thus for the first time find their way into Pandora, and thereby also into the grasp of TROVE's search engines. Just a few of these include:

A newly completed documentary chronicle of William Vincent Wallace's early career and his two-and-a-bit year stay in Australia in 1835-38.

Much enhanced and updated resources on the rest of the Wallace family, as well as the Ellard family and the Bushelle family.

As well as newly completed pages on their relatives, Mary Logan and Thomas Leggatt.

Also pages on Isaac Nathan and family, on the Spagnoletti family; on Ali-ben Sou-Alle, turkophone virtuoso; on Anna Bishop and Nicholas Bochsa; and on George Sippe and William Cavendish of Sydney


Who's this mysterious old hand . . . ?

"SYDNEY", Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (27 July 1859), 2 

An old man who had at one time been it musician of some note in England, and who afterwards achieved in Norfolk Island, notoriety sufficient to constitute him the hero of a well written poem, is said to have died at Sydney the other week respected and full of years.


A cultural hero ... and repairing links ...

Image: Robyn Holmes, at the National Folk Fellowship concert in the Budawang, National Folk Festival, Exhibition Park in Canberra, April 2010 (photo: Greg Power; copyright National Library of Australia, 2010) 

Robyn Holmes ...

On 1 December 2017, Robyn Holmes took her well earned retirement from the National Library of Australia, where she has long filled the posts of Curator of Music, and more recently Senior Curator and Fellowships Secretary.

As Vincent Plush briefly but neatly summed her role:

For 17 years she has been a key figure in the life of the National Library and, by extension, the musical life of this country ...

For many musicians throughout the country, and Australian musicians overseas, Robyn Holmes has been the go-to person for information about Australian music composition and history.

At the National Conference of the Australian branch of IAML (International Association of Music Libraries and Archives) in Canberra [in September], Robyn reviewed her extraordinary career and acknowledged cooperation of music organisations and individuals throughout the country. An appreciative audience of peers and colleagues rewarded her with a standing ovation, flowers and a few tears ...

Read Vincent's full article, here: 

For the past decade, I have counted Robyn as one of my personal cultural heroes ...

Not least, she won my lasting admiration for her key role, first in advocating, and then in actioning, the digitisation of the NLA's colonial and early Federation music collection, and its dissemination through TROVE.

In my own experience, as in that of so many others, Robyn has been unfailingly generous with her time, expertise, good advice, and enthusiasm; so that she has been one of this century's most important - and accessible - advocates and adjuncts for Australia music, composers, performers, and musicologists.

And, in particular, she has brought an unparalleled dedication - and success - to the ongoing task of preserving our historical Australian musical heritage, in manuscript, print, and digital formats.

Under her watch and care, the NLA has acquired not merely dozens of major - but by now also probably hundreds of minor and middling - Australian musical collections.

... and repairing links

Robyn has now put down her professional reins, but the task she began - and for so long performed so effectively - is an ongoing one.

One of her concerns over recent years was the transfer of digitised items and other records from the NLA's discontinued "Music Australia" web architecture, to be more fully and permanently integrated into the library catalogue and TROVE.

To give a practical example, in its digitised from, the library's copy of Julius Rochlitz's The Geelong Melbourne railway polka ("composed and dedicated to his friends in Australia") of c. 1866, used to be accessed by the following live link: 

This link will still take you to the item, though now via an automatic re-direct to its new permanent online address: 

But over recent years, there have also been major changes in the electronic catalogues of the major State libraries, with the result that many catalogue links in the pages of this site no longer work at all.

The excellent and powerful new permanent catalogues of the State libraries of Victoria and Tasmania are now fully functional, and I hope in the coming year to repair most of the currently broken links in these pages to digitised items in their collections, where possible replacing them with access through Trove records.

Alas, similar problems will continue to bedevil many of Australharmony's links to State Library of New South Wales digitised items and catalogue records for a little while longer. The move to their completely new integrated catalogue architecture is not yet complete, and still poses some major problems, especially since automatic redirects for many of their items are not yet in place.

So please bear with me - and indeed with them - until the job is done.


Australharmony's Pandora day ...

Many users will come first to Australharmony via search results in Trove's Archived websites tab. What you should be seeing there are results not from the live site, but from the most recently harvested version in the NLA's Pandora Archive. Australharmony is scheduled to be harvested/archived annually by Pandora on 22 December. Its Pandora address is: 


Recirculating songs ...

An important new collection of essays on revitalising Indigenous singing practices, published today and freely downloadable, includes the following Australharmony contributions:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "Recovering musical data from colonial era transcriptions of Indigenous songs: some practical considerations", in Jim Wafer and Myfanwy Turpin (eds), Recirculating songs: revitalising the singing practices of Indigenous Australia (Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics, 2017) 

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney) and Jim Wafer (University of Newcastle), "A checklist of colonial era musical transcriptions of Australian Indigenous songs", in Jim Wafer and Myfanwy Turpin (eds), Recirculating songs: revitalising the singing practices of Indigenous Australia (Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics, 2017) 

This is a print summary of the online page: 


More from Sydney Living Musuems ... Sound Heritage Sydney and the Stewart Symonds Sheet Music Collection

Matthew Stephens at Sydney Living Museums has just announced that 16 video clips of performances from their 28 March Sound Heritage Sydney symposium concert have now been uploaded to the SLM's YouTube channel.

The concert, entitled Here and there: music at home in Sydney and London, 1830-1845, was at Elizabeth Bay House.–1845 

Few of these pieces have previously been recorded. But I draw your attention especially to the following:

Currency lasses (quadrille), Sydney 1825, by Tempest Margaret Paul, performed by James Doig (pianoforte) (STREAMED VIDEO)

Leichhardt's grave, Sydney 1845, by Isaac Nathan, performed by Nyssa Milligan (voice) and Katrina Faulds (pianoforte). (STREAMED VIDEO)

Thy greeting home again: a paean on Leichhardt's return from Port Essington, Sydney 1846, performed by James Doig (voice) and Katrina Faulds (piano) (STREAMED VIDEO)

SLM has so far uploaded 32 video clips of musical performances and other materials.

The team at SLM's Caroline Simpson Library and Research Collection have now also created short catalogue records for the entire Stewart Symonds Sheet Music Collection (over 1500 pieces in 47 volumes) and these are now available via the SLM library catalogue, TROVE and Worldcat:

SLM Library Catalogue



On 29 March I posted that SLM had uploaded 87 digitised Australian-owned music publications into the:

Internet Archive 

As of today, that figure is now 127, with over 20 more being processed.

Many of the pieces digitised are being made available to the public for the first time, and the SLM has also prioritised more of their music collection for future digitisation.


Sadak and Kalasrade ... Charles Packer's 1835 London opera recovered!

Image: detail, Robert Martin (1812), Sadak in search of the waters of oblivion (USA, Saint Louis Art Museum; Wikimedia Commons)

Charles Sandys Packer's "romantic opera", Sadak and Kalasrade; or the waters of oblivion, was first performed in London on 20 April 1835, precisely 182 years ago today.

The 25-year-old's score created a small storm - a storm, it must be admitted, of mostly negative criticism. The opera was quickly taken off, and thereafter no attempt was made to revive it.

Just over three years later, anyway, Packer fell even more spectacularly in public estimation. Accused of faking bills in an attempt to embezzle over £2000, he was convicted of forgery, and was transported to the Australian colonies for life.

Packer evidently remained fond of at least some of the music of the ill-fated Sadak. He performed the work's Overture and the simple but lovely second-act Terzetto many times in Australia, from his early years of freedom in Tasmania in the late 1840s, through to the 1870s.

An early colonial performance of the Overture was one that Packer himself gave, in keyboard reduction, in Hobart in February 1848 on an instrument newly imported from Paris called the EOLOPHON, evidently a type of seraphine.

A notable concert performance of the Terzetto, "O'er the far mountain" was given in September 1859 by Packer and principals from his resident opera company at Sydney's Prince of Wales Theatre, three leading colonial vocalists of the era, Maria Carandini, Sara Flower, and John Gregg.

Curious as to what this music might sound like, several years ago I asked a colleague in London, the Australian-born composer and organist Philip Nunn, if he could take a look, on my behalf, at the original 1835 performance materials for Packer's Sadak in the British Library.

Philip sent me a detailed source report, indicating that many of the set pieces of the opera were recoverable from the surviving manuscript orchestral and vocal partbooks and piano score, and possibly, with a little ingenuity, an editor could even reconstruct a performable version.

Tyrone Landau was planning a performance of some early Australian music that the late Richard Divall had edited for the Marshall-Hall Trust, when he heard from Thérèse Radic about Philip's report on Sadak.

Having obtained a copy from Philip, Tyrone went to see the manuscripts themselves in the British Library, and - after not inconsiderable labor - he has now produced the first modern editions of the two key extracts that Packer himself performed regularly in Australia - the Overture, and the Terzetto O'er the far mountains.

To encourage and enable future live performances, Tyrone Landau has now made his editions of these two extracts freely available (under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 license) in:

* full orchestral score

* piano reduction/vocal score

* complete orchestral parts

* and Sibelius synthesised sound file

The can now be freely downloaded at Petrucci/IMSLP,_Charles_Sandys)

For Australharmony documentation on Sadak and Kalasrade (Packer would have pronounced it: "SAY-dak and Kay-las-RAYD") see:

On the original 1835 London production and the extant sources:

Sadak and Kalasrade (documentation)

Sadak and Kalasrade (worklist entry)

Australian documentary references to the opera: (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

This is a wonderful outcome, and all of us with a serious interest in Australia's colonial musical heritage owe Tyrone a debt of gratitude.


Some early "bush bands" ...
Bush band, Mount Surprise, QLD, c.1905

Bush band performing at Mount Surprise, Queensland, ca. 1905 (State Library of Queensland) (DIGITISED)


The reception given by the people of Parramatta to his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, on Monday, was as cordial and enthusiastic as the most loyal subject of her Majesty could desire ...

... After his Royal Highness left the park a large number of the spectators also took their departure. Those who remained betook themselves to dancing quadrilles upon the green sward to the inspiriting strains of the Volunteer band, who throughout the day discoursed an immense quantity of music. There was another band upon the ground - what was called "The bush band" - which also favoured the public with much melody. Its harmonies, however, were more of a lugubrious and sentimental character than those of its rival, and it was consequently less popular. It was, however, the centre of a small knot of applauding amateurs de musique who seemed to appreciate "Ah che la morte," and "The heart bowed down," &c. ..,

"VICTORIA PLAINS. Visit of His Excellency Governor Weld", The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times (19 November 1869), 2-3 

The reception of His Excellency Governor Weld by the Fathers and community of the R. C. Mission, Victoria Plains, was grand yet simple and religious ... ... (3) ... While His Excellency was at supper, a bush band was got up consisting of a violin, concertina, triangle, and a large tin dish which answered instead of a drum; several popular airs were played; and His Excellency was very much pleased, for he knew that every one was doing their very best, and with the best intentions. After the music several selected songs were sang in good style; Masters A. and F. Clinch accompanied on the piano sang the song known as "A motto for every man", as also "God save the Queen," which put an end to the evening's entertainment.

"A CAPITAL JOKE", Wagga Wagga Express and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser (7 August 1872), 2 

In the middle of last week two young persons residing between Queanbeyan and Micalago, resolved upon casting their lot together, and accordingly repaired at the appointed time to the Burra Church there to tie with their tongue a knot not to be loosed with their teeth. This necessary formality having been disposed ot, the happy pair returned to the home of the bride's father to spend the evening, where they were joined by a few friends who contented themselves with the cup that cheers but not inebriates, dispensing with the bottle, but enjoying the song. This state of things was not permitted to last long. Between eight and nine o'clock the distant sound of rattling pots and pans proclaimed the advance of invaders, and accordingly a council of war was at once held as to the reception to be given to the visitors. One powerful individual proposed that he should be permitted to go at them as Sampson did the Philistines with the jaw bone of an ass. This was objected to. Up rode the bush band. After kicking up a most unearthly noise for some time time they retired to the back of a paddock close by, where they secured their horses to the rails, and again resumed their disorderly conduct. In the mean time, however, one of the inmates of the house contrived to get out through a window, and, with carving knife in hand, unnoticed proceeded to the place where the horses were, and, in far less time than it would lake to tell this story, cut the horses bridles and the girths, allowing them to go at large, which they were not slow to do with tin-pot music at their tail. But alas! what sorrow and dismay was pictured in the countenance of the poor wretches who, half perished, half starved, were seen running in all directions in search of their not-to-be-found horses. Lost they were; and sold, yes, most effectually sold, were the band who thought to ridicule and annoy others. One or two valuable horses and saddles are missing, and as to the riders, they had to travel home on shank's mare a distance of several miles where they had an opportunity of reflecting over their folly and disgraceful conduct - Communicated to the Queanbeyan Age.

For an earlier account of rough music to celebrate a wedding, though without specific mention of a bush band, see:

"MARRIAGE A LA MODE", The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (7 May 1861), 3 

On Thursday evening the Albury Flat was illuminated by bon-fires and blazing tar barrels, and enlivened with the rough music of marrow-bones, cleavers, tin pots, and other instruments ...

"Notes from Allora. [FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT] January 18", Warwick Argus (26 January 1886), 2 

The new year was ushered in in this part of the world in the usual fashion. The stiring strains of the bush band - composed of first and second kerosine tins, an asthmatic concertina, a wheezy comb, and a couple of broken-voiced tin whistles - burst upon the stilly night as the clock struck 12. The atmospheric disturbance was something terrific - and the wonder is that we have had a day's fine weather since. The roisterers made the usual round of the pubs. At the first - host Holmes' - the 'cute landlord warned his visitors that it being after midnight, and consequently 1886, the new Licensing Act was in force and he dare not open his house or sell liquor between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. "We don't want you to sell it, shouted the tin whistle. But the landlord was obdurate, and the thirsty ones had at last to go empty away. They were more successful elsewhere. Having gathered plenty of eatables and drinkables, they returned to the Royal and made things lively for a short time; then, leaving their instruments in pledge for what they did not get, adjourned to the recreation reserve and disposed of the "wine and wittles." Most of them have quite recovered.

"N'IMPORTE", The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (8 September 1900), 552 

Back-Block journal: A dance was held last night to provide our band with uniforms. Singularly enough, the evolution of a bush band has, so far, escaped the attention of Herbert Spencer. Yet it is a development fraught with interest, and capable of throwing clear side-lights on some of the abstrusest questions of sociology. First, there's the widespread feeling that life without music is a mistake. Then the blacksmith leading the local choir calls a meeting, which is followed by advertisements for amateurs and instruments. The next step is to provide a bandmaster, one who can play the cornopean and shoe horses preferred. When the question of uniform arises - an orchestra without livery is an anachronism - there's nothing for it but a bazaar or a ball. For months afterwards the clearing in the forest is filled with melody possessing mesmerising and paralysing characteristics; the woods resound with tender wail; the cornopean is heard over the tops of the highest trees, and the person that started the idea is shunned as an enemy to society. The natural history of a bush band deserves more attention that it has hitherto received.

Wangaratta Brass Band, Wangaratta, VIC, c.1885 (Museum Victoria) (DIGITISED)

About Australharmony

Site history

Graeme Skinner is the author and curator of this online resource on music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia.

Australharmony was built on content previously presented in Graeme's 2011 doctoral thesis.

The resource was first launched online in January 2012, and regularly updated thereafter.

Since 1 July 2014, it is published online by PARADISEC, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney.

Australharmony is regularly updated as an open source report on ongoing research, work-in-progress toward the history of music, musicians, and audiences - Indigenous, settler, and visitor - in early colonial Australia (to c. 1860).

It contains records of music from the earliest documented contacts between Indigenous Australians and outsiders, especially between British colonisation in 1788 and Federation in 1901, while also continuing to follow colonial music and musicians into the 20th and 21st centuries.

By providing links to a mass of online content, Australharmony is also a virtual anthology of Australian colonial music and documentation.

Why "Australharmony"?

The colonist, judge, natural philosopher, and wit Barron Field was the first person to go into print attaching the epithet "Australian" to a piece of music.

Click here for his 1823 transcription of an Australian national melody.

Barron Field was the first Australian poet to issue a small printed collection of his own work, First fruits of Australian poetry, the first edition of which appeared in Sydney in 1819.

The collection is best remembered now for its second poem, The kangaroo.

But also of interest, Field clearly intended the epigraph on his titlepage as a challenge to posterity:

I first adventure. Follow me who list;
And be the second Austral Harmonist.

Australharmony in TROVE

Australharmony also curates a large and growing set of tagged resources inside Trove.

As at August 2020, clicking here or selecting the Australian colonial music tag inside Trove gives instant access to over a curated selection of over 19,000 items, including:

A virtual anthology of over 2,300 Australian colonial musical compositions, arrangements, and editions under Music, audio & video

Almost 15,000 relevant newspaper and journal articles and advertisements under Newspapers & Gazettes

Around 750 books and 250 journal articles on Australian colonial music under Books & Libraries

Grouped resources on over 350 musicians and composers under People & organisations

Almost 600 images of colonial composers, musicians, and instruments under Pictures, photos, objects

You can then use Trove's powerful search functions to locate materials on specific subjects within the Australian colonial music virtual archive.

Exemplifying use of [TROVE], musicologist Graeme Skinner has written a definitive history of Australian colonial music, cross-checking all known holdings with citations and advertisements of Australian compositions in colonial newspapers and other sources. He has identified a comprehensive and accurately-dated list of 410 known Australian works composed between 1788 and 1860, of which Australian libraries hold 73% or 297 works. Of these, 204 are held at the National Library. His index is enabling the Library to update both catalogue records and authority records, as well as to add or modify biographical records of Australian composers or performers in Music Australia/Trove (each with a unique people or 'party' identifier that links the people to the works they created). The Library also now has an improved desiderata list that may yet elicit rare surviving copies from around the world.

Robyn Holmes, "Music at the National Library of Australia", Fontes artis musicae 58/3 (July-September 2011), 218

Calling for help and information

This site is published and maintained on University of Sydney servers, but the research presented has so far been carried out without any other institutional, public, or private funding support

Contact the curator at:


This is a not-for-profit non-commercial site, and it contains transcriptions of much printed material and many digitised images and soundbytes of originals that are out of copyright.

Australharmony acknowledges in each case the source of the material or image by providing a live URL to the original source of web publication, or other citation in the usual way.

Fair use excerpts from copyright materials are also occasionally reproduced here, and otherwise wherever necessary explicit permissions have been sought.

Australharmony claims copyright over the editorial content and compilation. No one may, under any circumstances, reproduce for republication the whole of any component part of this site.

However, this is an open resoursce, and subject to fair use, Australharmony actively encourages you to constructively reuse material from these pages in your own research and writing. Nevertheless, it is your responsibility to cite Australharmony as a source, in exactly the same way as you would cite a printed published work.

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2021