Bach in Australia!

13 Feb 2019

Our Deputy Head of School Associate Professor Denis Collins has co-edited the new book J.S. Bach in Australia - the first resource of its kind to be dedicated to a study of the reception of a major European composer in Australia. Four years in the making, each of the eleven essays explores how J.S. Bach's music has enriched Australian cultural life, from private performances in the early nineteenth century to historically informed realisations in recent years.

The authors outline the challenges of mounting and sustaining this repertoire in the face of underdeveloped musical infrastructure and limited resources, and how these challenges have been overcome with determination and insight.

Championed by imaginative individuals such as Ernest Wood and Leonard Fullard in Melbourne, E.H. Davies in Adelaide and W. Arundel Orchard in Sydney, Bach's music has been a vehicle for the realisation of Australians' cultural aspirations and a means of maintaining connections with traditions that continue to be cherished today.

Bach in Australia marks a new departure for musicological scholarship in Australia because it is the first to be dedicated to a study of the reception of a major European composer in this country. Chapter authors draw heavily on archival evidence, especially newspaper reviews and advertisements, interviews with performers, historical photographic materials and scores of Bach’s music (often annotated) used for past performances. The book therefore provides a yardstick for future research on the reception of other major composers in Australia, while at the same time offering pointers to further avenues for Bach research.

Each of the eleven essays explores how J.S. Bach's music has enriched Australian cultural life, from private performances in the early nineteenth century to historically informed realisations in recent years. The authors outline the challenges of mounting and sustaining this repertoire in the face of underdeveloped musical infrastructure and limited resources, and how these challenges have been overcome with determination and insight. Championed by imaginative individuals such as Ernest Wood and Leonard Fullard in Melbourne, E.H. Davies in Adelaide and W. Arundel Orchard in Sydney, Bach's music has been a vehicle for the realisation of Australians' cultural aspirations and a means of maintaining connections with traditions that continue to be cherished today.

Bach in Australia arose from the Melbourne Bach Forum in July 2014 which included a dedicated Bach Symposium that showcased the breadth and depth of scholarship across Australia on Bach's music. Associate Professor Denis Collins was a presenter at this event and collabroated with the Forum organiser, Kerry Murphy, and another presenter, Sam Owens, to coordinate an edited book on the history of Bach performance and reception in Australia. They encouraged contributions from other Forum participants and several other scholars whose work intersected with the goals of the book. The three co-editors worked tirelessly to assemble, read, edit, and consult with authors about all aspects of their chapters.  

The book is published by Lyrebird Press, housed at the University of Melbourne, which is dedicated to the research and dissemination of Australian musical culture. The founder of Lyrebird Press, the Melburnian Louise Hanson Dyer, was a passionate exponent of Baroque repertoire, including Bach’s music, and was a pioneer in developing audiences for what was to become the early music movement.

 

Book Authors/Information

Foreword – Christoph Wolff

Introduction – Denis Collins, Kerry Murphy, Samantha Owens

Chapters:

  1. Janice B. Stockigt – “Nobody rose or joined in these hymns”: Premiere Australian performances of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew ­Passion (1875–76)
  2. Andrew Frampton – A tale of two Passions: The 1897 Melbourne cathedral performance of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion
  3. Alan Maddox – “The finest and grandest work ever created by human genius”: The first performance of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in colonial Sydney
  4. Julja Szuster– The performance history of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in South Australia
  5. Peter Tregear – The key to timelessness: Some reflections on the Australian reception of the B minor Mass
  6. Samantha Owens – “A gothic cathedral in music”: The performance and reception of Bach’s Mass in B minor in 1920s Australia
  7. Niki Ebacioni – “A light shining in the darkness”: Leonard Fullard’s Melbourne Bach Festival
  8. Peter Campbell – Historically informed Bach performance in Canberra: Problems and progress
  9. Ian Burk – Bach in Tasmania: Overcoming the problems of a small population and a lack of musical resources
  10. Graham Lieschke – Bach cantata reception in Melbourne: Setting the scene for the cantata program of St Johns Southgate Lutheran Church
  11. Heinz L. Kretzenbacher – Approaches to Bach in Australian literature

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