Graeme Skinner
Under construction
as of 10 July 2014 at
The following content from

as last updated in April 2014, can for a short while still be consulted here
Readings in colonial Australian music history
Nineteenth-century musical sources online
Searching for Stephen Marsh's The Gentleman in Black
1888 Melbourne Centennial Exhibition Orchestral Series
John Onions
convict musician
George Skinner
{fl. 1844-48}
Sydney Catch Club
Emile Coulon
Windsor Band
A lost colonial opera archive
Beethoven in Australia 1827

Weblog of  Graeme Skinner


Australharmony has moved . . .

As of 10 July 2014, Australharmony, my online resource toward the history of music in colonial Australia, is located at, from where I will continue to build, curate, and update it. My thanks to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, PARADISEC, and especially to Professor Linda Barwick, SCM's Associate Dean of Research and Director of PARADISEC (Sydney Unit) and the unit's Audio Systems Officer and IT specialist, Aidan Wilson, for all their help and support during the transfer. The National Library of Australia took an archival snapshot of the site as it was in December 2013 which is now stored permanently in their Pandora web archive, accessible here through the old site's Trove record.

The main content of the old site (last updated in April 2014), including Regsiters of personnel and organisations A-Z, Checklists of Australian works 1770-1868, and Bibliography have now been DELETED from this site. Updated and enhanced new versions of the all same pages are available on the new site

For a short time, some other content of the old site (as last updated in April 2014) also remains online here, pending tranfer to the new site.


Australharmony's Australian colonial music tag in Trove

Trove users can now call up, and search among, the thousands of items on Australian colonial music so far tagged by australharmony as part of this project. Clicking on the Australian colonial music tag inside Trove gives instant access to a curated resource including:

- a virtual anthology of over 1500 Australian colonial musical compositions and arrangements under Music, sound and video

- over 3500 relevant press articles and advertisements under Digitised newspapers and more

- a virtual bibliography of books and articles on Australian colonial music under Books, and Journals, articles and data sets

- grouped resources on about 150 key composers and other musicians under People and organisations

- as well as a selection of over 500 images of colonial composers, musicians, and instruments under Pictures, photos, objects

Also, starting with the earliest colonial prints, Australian colonial editions of imported music


POST 11 JUNE 2013

Calling for help identifying early colonial sources of manuscript music ...

The purpose of the chronological checklists on this site is to record original musical compositions and arrangements as well as original song lyrics by composers, arrangers, and songwriters active in colonial Australia. Most of those that survive do so in printed commercially published form. Only a very small number survive in manuscript, representing only a tiny proportion of the many hundreds of lost (but documented) early and later colonial musical works.

In fact, survivals of colonial manuscript music of any descrption - whether original productions, or copies of imported traditional or composed music - are sadly rare; so rare, in fact, that it would be very useful to build a separate checklist of all known instances.

To date, the earliest example that I know of any musical notation that was written down in colonial Australia is William Cavendish's 5 quadrilles and 2 waltzes (“The Fairy Quadrilles”; “Australian, Notasian, Arabian, or Mal[a]gareske quadrilles”), posted from Parramatta to his wife in England in April 1833 (thus predating the first locally produced Australian musical print, Lhotsky's A Song of the Women of the Menero Tribe that appeared in November 1834). The first major manuscript survival is the voluminous score of an original work, Isaac Nathan's Don John of Austria ... but until at least the 1870s, manuscript music of any sort is rare enough to be worth noting.

Janette Pelosi, of the State Archives of NSW - and author of the extremely useful article on colonial playscripts held by the State Archive - recently brought to my attention another realtively early example of manuscript music, copied into the script of Gustavus Arabin's play Rookwood, or the Adventures of Dick Turpin, written in Sydney in 1850 and produced at the Royal Victoria Theatre in 1851 (the original MS now in the State Archives).

It turns out that Arabin probably found both the words and music of the song - the tune a verison of Greensleeves propularly known as the “Blacksmith“, or “Which nobody can deny“ - in an earlier printed edition of the source text for his play, as you can see for yourself here: William Harrison Ainsworth’s Rookwood (1837 edition), 65: ... But, as a survivng manuscript copy penned in early colonial Australia, Arabin's borrowed song is notable anyway. If anyone else knows of, or comes across, other examples of manuscript music in colonial sources, not already listed in my checklists, I - and other researchers - will be very keen to hear of them.

POST 25 MAY 2013

© Graeme Skinner 2014