LAST MODIFIED Sunday 12 April 2020 8:16

James Henri Anderson and family

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "James Henri Anderson and family", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 4 June 2020

ANDERSON FAMILY (James Henri Anderson and son)
ANDERSON, James Henri (J. H. ANDERSON, R.A.M.; James Henry ANDRERSON)

Professor of music, pianist, composer, organist, music retailer, music publisher

Born UK, 1822/23
Arrived Hobart Town, VDL (TAS), by 4 February 1842
Died Melbourne, VIC, 30 April 1879, aged 56 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


Pianist, composer

Born ? Launceston, VDL (TAS), 1848 (son of James Henri ANDERSON)
Died Melbourne, VIC, 22 March 1876 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony) (NLA persistent identifier)


According to his Sydney obituary, Alfred had been, from around the age of 7, a pupil of "Mr. J. Packer" [sic] in Hobart, and later, in Sydney, in the early 1860s continued his studies with the same Packer; however, Charles Packer, left Hobart for Sydney in 1852, so that his Hobart teacher was more likely to have been Charles's younger brother, Frederick Alexander Packer, also an alumnus of the Royal Academy. That he did study later in Sydney with Charles Packer is, however, not in question.

Alfred returned to Sydney in July 1869, with a letter of recommendation from his teacher, the Austrian pianist Ernst Pauer. In Sydney on 29 December 1875, Anderson married the touring singer Ilma De Murska. Alfred died less than four months later, at his father's house, 1 Lansdown-terrace, East Melbourne, on 22 March 1876. A letter to the editor of the Argus from Anderson senior addressed accusations printed in the earlier notice that De Murska had been barred access to her husband by his family. Many years later, De Murska's manager De Vivo went into print in the New York Sun claiming that, during Alfred's final illness, the Anderson family had effectively swindled Murska of £2000. According to De Vivo, when she last tried to see her husband:

. . . she found the old Jewish father sitting at the door, a bottle of wine at his side, and when she attempted to enter the door he stretched out his cane and told her his son was too ill to receive her.

Less than two months after Alfred's death, while on tour in Dunedin, New Zealand, on 15 May 1876, De Murska remarried, her new husband Anderson's former Royal Academy colleague and friend, John Hill.


[Advertisement], The Courier (4 February 1842), 3

"TO THE EDITOR . . . PSALMODY", Launceston Examiner (4 September 1850), 4

[Advertisement], Launceston Examiner (3 April 1852), 7

"GRAND CONCERT", Colonial Times (9 July 1852), 2

"CONCERT", Hobarton Guardian, or, True Friend of Tasmania (24 July 1852), 3 


"ALFRED ANDERSON'S DEBUT", The Empire (31 October 1860), 4

"DEATHS", The Sydney Morning Herald (14 December 1864), 1 

On the 4th October, at his residence, 3, Great Prescot-street, London, Samuel Michael, Esq., in his 78th year, uncle to Mr. J. H. Anderson, 360, George-street, Sydney.

"TOWN AND COUNTRY: MR. ALFRED ANDERSON, R.A.M.", Sydney Mail (18 April 1868), 5:

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (26 July 1869), 1

"AN ANECDOTE OF PRINCE ALFRED", The Ballarat Star (16 October 1868), 3

[Advertisement], The Cornwall Chronicle (6 July 1870), 1

[Advertisement], The Brisbane Courier (24 December 1870), 1

"MR. J. H. ANDERSON", The Brisbane Courier (31 December 1870), 4

Mr. J. H. ANDERSON, member of the Royal Academy of Music, London, and for many years well and favorably known in the Southern colonies us a music teacher, has recently taken up his residence amongst us, and announces that he is prepared to receive pupils for the piano- forte and singing. Mr. Anderson brings a long list of references including our present Premier, and nearly all the old residents of standing in the city and neighbourhood.

[News], Rockhampton Bulletin (26 December 1871), 2

Mr. Alfred Anderson will be assisted to-morrow evening by his father, Mr. J. H. Anderson, whose performance on the concertina, are too well and favourably known to need any comment from us.

"NEW SOUTH WALES", The South Australian Advertiser (31 December 1875), 5

[News], The Argus (23 March 1876), 5

Death has put an end to the career of Mr. Alfred Anderson, the well-known pianist. Mr. Anderson was a native of Sydney, and at the time of his death, which happened yesterday morning, at his father's residence, at half-past 8 o'clock, was 28 years old. His early musical training was received in London, as a pupil of the Royal Academy in that city. He paid a second visit to the great metropolis as a protege of the Duke of Edinburgh when His Royal Highness returned from his Australian tour. On the arrival of Mdlle. de Murska and her company in Melbourne he was occasionally employed as solo pianist both here and in Adelaide. On the return of the company from the last-named place he was engaged as pianist and accompanyist for the Sydney and New Zealand tour. While in Sydney ho was taken seriously ill, on the 10th November of last year, and from that time his health was always fluctuating. On the 29th December he was married to Mademoiselle Ilma de Murska, in Sydney, by the Rev. Dr. Fullerton. With one or two exceptions he had been unable to appear in his professional capacity since the company returned to Melbourne, and of late his case was recognised as hopeless, from the complication of disorders by which he was attacked - the heart, lungs, and kidneys being all involved. The immediate cause of death was congestion of the lungs, the result of repeated colds. Mdlle. de Murska (to preserve the best known name), we hear, is suffering greatly from her bereavement, and her grief is no wise lessened from the unsympathetic attitude assumed by the family of her late husband, who prevented her from seeing him when she desired to do so.

"THE LATE MR. ANDERSON", The Argus (25 March 1876), 5

"OBITUARY", The Sydney Morning Herald (15 April 1876), 7 

The musical public generally, artistes, amateurs, and audiences must have learned with regret the tidings of the untimely death of Mr. Alfred Anderson, one of the most promising of our Australian musicians. From the number of years Mr. Anderson's family have been located here he was extremely well known and he had a large circle of private friends, amongst whom his geniality of disposition and bonhomie caused him to be much endeared. The following brief outline of his career may not prove uninteresting. He was born in Sydney about the year 1848, but at a very early period was taken by his father to Hobart Town, Tasmania where Mr. Anderson, sen., was carrying on his occupation as a teacher music. When still quite a child he developed a very precocious faculty for music, and at about the age of seven was placed under the instruction of Mr J. Packer. He proved a very apt scholar and readily imbibed the elements of the art which was destined to become his profession. After having studied under Mr. Packer about five years he was sent to England, and entered as a student at the Royal Academy of Music, London. There, of course, he enjoyed the advantage of training both technical and practical under the professional staff of the institution, especially Mr. Pauer, his chief instructor in the pianoforte. Having completed the requisite course of study, he returned to Sydney about the year 1861 and made his first appearance in public as a pianist in the uniform of the Academy, his extreme juvenility rather surprising those who saw him. He did not, however, entirely abandon study, for he entered upon another course with his old master Mr. Packer, who had in the interim located himself in Sydney. In the year 1867 he was at Melbourne, and upon the first visit to the colonies of the Duke of Edinburgh, his Royal Highness took very favourable notice of the young artiste, and, as is well known, honoured him by many tokens of his esteem. Upon the Prince leaving the colonies for England, he was followed shortly afterwards by Mr. Anderson, to whom his Royal patron had held out prospects of a successful career in the mother country. At London Mr. Anderson was presented to H.R.H. the Prince or Wales, and had the honour of playing at Marlborough House. But his sojourn in England was not a lengthy one - the intense cold of that country proving very injurious to the delicacy of his constitution - and when the Galatea, with her Royal captain, again entered Port Jackson, Mr. Anderson was once more pursuing his profession in his native land. Subsequently to this he appeared at a series of concerts in conjunction with Miss Carrie Emanuel, with whom he also travelled in the provincial towns and in New Zealand, of which colony he made a tour. Afterwards Mr. Anderson appears to have carried on his profession in a rather desultory way, occasionally appearing at concerts, but for the most part confining himself to private life. He first met Mdle. Ilma de Murska at Ballarat, and an intimacy between the "Hungarian nightingale" and the young pianist rapidly grew into a cordial friendship. With Mdlle. de Murska he travelled in his professional capacity, and appeared with her at Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, and the provincial towns. They were married by the Rev. Dr. Fullerton at Sydney in January last. From this colony they returned to Melbourne whence it was intended to proceed to New Zealand en route for Philadelphia. But the health of Mr. Anderson, which had been sinking, now completely gave way. After having been for some time in a precarious condition he finally succumbed to a combination of affections of the lungs, heart, and kidneys, and expired on Wednesday morning, March 22, in his twenty-eighth year. His suffering had been so great that his most intimate friends were denied access to him, and on the morning of his death even his wife was only permitted to approach him for a few minutes. Every precaution that medical science could suggest proved, however, unavailing. Mr. Anderson was a musician of much promise, and had he lived would probably have achieved a reputation in the musical world. he was not great as a theorist, or in composition, but his manipulation was extremely clever, and he possessed wonderful ability as a reader, playing almost any music at sight with great facility. He had besides a marvellously retentive memory. The latter gift frequently enabled him to compose or improvise a selection of airs based upon a work of which he did not possess the music, and which he had only heard a few times.

"DEATHS", The Argus (8 May 1879), 1

ANDERSON. - On the 30th ult., at his residence, 79 Gore-street, Fitzroy, James Henry Anderson, R.A.M., professor of music, aged 58 year, father of the late Alfred Anderson, R.A.M. Sydney papers please copy.

"DEATHS", The Sydney Morning Herald (9 May 1879), 8

[Advertisement], The Argus (5 June 1879), 2

GEORGE RUSHALL has received instructions from Messrs J. Barnet and Saml. Lyons, executors in the estate of J. H. Anderson, R.A.M., deceased, to SELL by PUBLIC AUCTION, on the premises as above, Fine toned cottage piano, by Aucher Frères, a valuable collection of instrumental music and operas, selected with great care by deceased . . .

"THE LOVES OF A CANTATRICE", Kalgoorlie Western Argus (11 March 1897), 10

Musical works (James):

The lays of the Hebrews ("A Selection of Hebrew Melodies as Sung at the Consecration of the Sydney Synagogue . . . Arranged for the Piano Forte by J. H. Anderson") (Contents: 1 Psalm 91 [by Matthew Moss (England 1795-1868)]); 2 Psalm 24 [Matthew Moss]); 3 Awake! Awake!; 4 Come my beloved) (Sydney: Francis Ellard, [1844]) 

The Fitzroy quadrilles ("dedicated by permission to His Excellency Sir Charles A. Fitzroy, K.C.B., in honor of his visit to Melbourne") (Sydney: James T. Grocott, for the composer, [1850]) 

Musical editions (James): 

Musical works: (Alfred)

The Sydney polka [Australian edition] (Sydney: J. H. Anderson, [1861?]) 

The Challenger galop (Sydney: J. H. Anderson, [1867]) 

The Queen's Own galop (Sydney: J. H. Anderson & Son, [1867]) 

The Royal Visit quadrilles (Sydney: J. H. Anderson & Son, [1867]) 

The Belmore galop (Sydney: J. H. Anderson, [1868]) 

Star of love (valse de salon on favourite themes from Lurline) [W. V. Wallace] (Sydney: J. H. Anderson, [1868]) 

The New England polka (composed by J. H. Thee; arranged for the piano-forte by Alfred Anderson) (Sydney: J. H. Anderson, [1864]) 

Modern editions:

Richard Divall (ed.), James Henri Anderson, The lays of the Hebrews for pianoforte, 1844 (Australian Music Series, MDA017) (Monash University: Music Archive, 2014) 

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2020