Music Directors & Composers [Other]

The individuals presented in this section established careers as music directors, composers, conductors and/or arrangers primarily within the fields of “serious” or classical” music. Most were at some stage associated with the variety industry, however, writing or directing the music for popular culture musical entertainments such as pantomime, burlesque, musical comedies etc.

Allen to Lardelli ……. p1
MacCarthy to Zwar ……. p2



(1822-1897) English-born composer, music director.

Allen, G. B. 2 [SLV-JO]George Benjamin Allen immigrated to Australia around 1870-1871 and after collaborating on music theatre works with Grosvenor Bunster and Garnet Walch he became W.S. Lyster’s music director. He is believed to have returned to the United Kingdom in the 1880s before returning to Australia where he settled in Brisbane in the early 1890s. He was engaged as music director for Emma Wangenheim’s comic opera company and collaborated with James Brunton-Stephens on the comic opera Fayette; Or, Bush Revels (1892). A number of Allen’s compositions were also published during his lifetime.




anderson-oswald-ww-5-july-1935-7(1885-1944) Composer, musician, playwright, radio pioneer, station manager, music publisher, businessman.

Although best remembered as one of Australia’s radio broadcasting pioneers, Oswald Anderson’s career prior to 1925 saw him regarded as one of the country’s leading composers of popular and concert songs. He was also involved in repertory theatre, co-founded a music college, set up his own publishing company, collaborated with author Conway Drew on the stage adaptation of his novel Jinker the Grafter’s Mate (1916), and had a long association with music publisher and instrument importer W.H. Paling. Anderson’s radio career, which began in 1925, saw him spearhead the formation of the Federal Radio Network and oversee a number of significant Australian radio firsts – initially with Sydney station 2FC and later with 2BL, 2UW and 2UE.

Image Source: Wireless Weekly (Sydney) 5 July 1935, 7.



(1850- 1905) French-born composer, music director, musician.

Leon Caron came to Australia in the late 1870s and soon afterwards took up a position as conductor with W.S. Lyster’s Opera Company. It was as music director for J.C. Williamson’s Royal Comic Opera Company, however, that he is most associated. He joined Williamson in 1889 and maintained a working relationship with the company until his death in 1905. He wrote the music for a number of Williamson’s pantomimes, while also composing his own works – including string quartets, a choral symphony, a violin concerto, and several orchestral works.



(1864-1928) English composer/conductor/musician (piano).  [Born Victor Champion Lonnen]

The son of a Liverpool-based theatrical proprietor, Victor Champion was well-known in London musical and theatrical circles from age 21 as a conductor. In 1908 he secured an engagement in Australia with Clarke, Meynell and Gunn to oversee the musical direction of his own pantomime Cinderella (1907). Champion was later accorded much acclaim for his work on the hit production of Miss Hook of Holland, and remained with the company until it merged with J.C. Williamson‘s in 1911. He subsequently remained with “the firm” until his death. In addition to being an accomplished conductor, Champion was a composer of much incidental music for pantomimes and other theatrical productions. On various occasions he also supplied lyrics for additional songs for musical comedy. His final production in Australia was The Student Prince. Champion left behind his wife and a son.

1. Champion was the brother of music hall star/songwriter Edward J. “Teddy” Lonnen.
2. Among the J.C. Williamson’s pantomimes he contributed music to (and/or conducted) were a revival Cinderella (1914), and then Mother Goose (1915), The House That Jack Built (1916), Dick Whittington (1917), Goody Two Shoes (music director only, 1919), Sleeping Beauty (1919), Humpty Dumpty (1920), Babes in the Wood (1921) and Aladdin (1923). Champion also contributed music and conducting to the “firm’s” 1918 revue, Hello Everybody, and was musical director for Oscar Ache’s production of The Southern Maid (1923), a musical comedy starring Gladys Moncrieff.
3. Ill-health in March 1928 forced Champion to cancel his plans to travel to Adelaide with the Student Prince company. He died in Melbourne on 25 March following an operation.
Image source: Australasian (Melbourne) 24 Dec. 1921, 52.



(1825-1881) Musician, music director, composer.

Frederick James Coppin began securing engagements as a music director in England in the early 1840s and likely came to Australia with his older brother George in late 1854. Their names have not been linked until December the following year, however, when Frederick is identified as music director/arranger for William Akhurst‘s Harlequin £.s.d. (Coppin’s Olympic Theatre). Although his career in Australia was mostly associated with George, Frederick was involved in other business partnerships, including one with William Pitt (as co-owners of a panorama). To Melbournians, however, he was best known as the Theatre Royal‘s long-serving music director (1868-late 1870s).



Pianist/organist, music director and composer.

Reginald D’Arcy Irvine established his reputation in Melbourne musical circles before moving to Perth in 1889 to take up a position on the staff of Professor Francik’s Conservatorium of Music. He was later organist and Choir Director at St George’s Cathedral, a position he held until 1908. As a composer D’Arcy-Irvine wrote the score for the music drama, The Two Worlds (1900), an adaptation of Milton’s epic poems Paradise Lost and Paradise Gained. His other known works include the songs “Arabesque” and “Meditation.”



(1865-1936) Organist, conductor, composer [Born John Millard Dunn at North Adelaide]

John M. Dunn was educated at the North Adelaide Grammar School, studied piano and sang in the St Peter’s Cathedral choir (often in solo parts). He worked for several years in a bank then sailed to London in 1888 to further his musical studies. On his return to Adelaide he taught at the Adelaide College of Music (later Elder Conservatorium) and in 1891 was appointed organist to St Peter’s Cathedral. He retained this position for 45 years. He was also conductor for the Adelaide Orpheus Society and president of the Adelaide Society of Organists. In 1896 Dunn and Harry Evans co-wrote the comic opera The Mandarin. It was staged at Adelaide’s Theatre Royal in November that year.

Image Source: Advertiser (Adelaide) 4 Jan. 1936, 20.



(1882-1972) Choirmaster, conductor, music director, radio manager/programme director [Born: George Phillip John Engisch]

Born and raised in Sydney, George English started out as a concert tenor. After moving to Melbourne in the early 1920s he became choir master for the Victorian Choir, and later worked as a conductor and music director. He also oversaw the first Australian production of George Clutsam‘s opera Young England (1928), and collaborated with Hugh Huxham on the radio pantomime, Little Bo-Peep (1929).  In the early 1930s English became programme director at 3UZ, and in 1936 was appointed conductor of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s National Choir. After moving to Brisbane in the early 1940s English directed the Queensland State and Municipal Choir and established the Brisbane Opera Guild.

  • For further details see: Rhoderick McNeill. The Australian Symphony from Federation to 1960. London: Routledge (2014), 72-74.
  • See also: George English Jnr [below]
1: His two symphonies, Opus 4 (A major) and Opus 5 (D minor) were first performed in Melbourne during the 1934 Centenary of Victoria celebrations. English conducted on both occasions. His oratorio, Armageddon was presented to the public at an ABC-sponsored concert in Sydney in 1941.
2: Rhoderick McNeill writes that the “two George English symphonies, especially the Symphony in A, are equally as worthy of attention as many of the [Alfred] Hill symphonies of the 1950s, and show that Hill [below] was not alone in representing the late-Romantic style in symphonic music in Australia” (74).



aka George Selwyn English

(1912-1980) Musician, composer (stage, radio, film and concert), journalist/critic/editor, industry activist

The son of George Philip John English (1882-1972), George Selwyn English was educated at Malvern Church of England Grammar and Melbourne High schools, and in 1934 collaborated with John Cazabon on the musical comedy Good Catch. While living in Britain between 1935 and 1939, he worked as a music critic and established and edited the British Motorist magazine, and after returning to Australia he was employed by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd in Sydney for some three years. He later worked as a critic for Sydney newspapers, became chief editor for the music publishers, W.H. Paling, and did a great deal of freelance composing and arranging, especially for theatre, radio and films, and wrote numerous songs. English was a ‘writer member’ of the board of the Australasian Performing Right Association (1961-68) , editor of its journal (1969-78) , and founding president of the Fellowship of Australian Composers in 1960.

  • See also: George English [above]
1 In 1961 English began to campaign for a musical counterpart of the Commonwealth Literary Fund. Eventually, in 1965, he led a delegation to meet Prime Minister Harold Holt; the Commonwealth Assistance to Australian Composers Advisory Board was established in 1967.
2: Although English enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in 1942 he only lasted six months before being discharged on 23 December on medical grounds.
Image source: Sun (Sydney) 4 Mar. 1934, 27.



(1899-1981) Composer, lyricist, musician, author, travel writer, critic, public speaker. [Born Dudley Jack Glass in Adelaide]

An Australian-born composer who worked in both serious and light forms of music, Dudley Glass spent most of his adult life based in England. Among his better-known works are The Beloved Vagabond: A Musical Play in Three Acts (1927) and The Toymaker of Nuremberg (1930). He also wrote the scores for two Australian films; several revues and operettas, the musical settings for Edward Lear’s Nonsense Songs, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, and Hilaire Belloc’s The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts (1932); as well as numerous songs, some of which contained his own words. In addition to his musical career, Glass established a considerable reputation as a music and travel writer, arts critic, radio presenter, and author, and travelled widely through Europe, North America and Australia on lecture tours.



aka Henry Towle, W.H. Harrison)

(1848-1899) Music director, conductor, composer, singer. [Born: Henry Francis Towle, in Geelong (Victoria)]

Harrison, H. T. [Turnbull Library]Described by Peter Downes as “the man with three identities,” H.T. Harrison specialised in musical comedies, pantomimes and comic operas, securing engagements with J.C. Williamson (1882-88) and Tom Pollard (1894-99) among other firms. He also wrote several original works, including Bulbo (1892) and dabbled in variety entertainment, notably with Lydia Howarde’s Burlesque Co, the Great Chicago Minstrels and F.E. Hiscocks. He started out in the 1870s as Henry Towle, church organist and variety tenor, becoming W.H. Harrison in 1882 and H.T. Harrison in 1894. He died in Dunedin on 2 June 1899 after a short illness.

Among the other companies Harrison worked for were Montague-Turner and Henry Bracey opera companies (1890), Macmahon Bros (1891), George Musgrove (1890-91), Williamson and Musgrove (1891-92).
Image source: Irene Cox Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library



(1874-1949) Composer, librettist, conductor, pianist, teacher, poet.

Fritz Hart came to Australia in 1909 as music director for J.C. Williamson. During the 27 years he resided in the country he wrote numerous music theatre works, including 17 opera. His first Australian work was the musical farce A Knight for a Day (1910). He taught at G.W.L. Marshall-Hall’s Melbourne Conservatorium in 1912. and with Alfred Hill founded the Sydney Amateur Orchestral Society and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. In 1915 he established his own conservatorium. In his later career Hart was conductor of the Melbourne Symphony (1927) and Honolulu Symphony (1936) orchestras.



Composer, musician, librettist.

Moritz Heuzenroeder immigrated to Australia in 1872. He was associated with the South Australian German Club and founder of the Adelaide Harmonie Society. He also wrote and produced several operettas in Adelaide in the 1880s including Singvogelchen and Onkel Beckers Geschichte (1882) and Faust and Grechen (1883). Heuzenroeder completed The Windmill comic opera in 1891 and collaborated with Harry Congreve Evans on the opera, Immomeena (1893). He moved to Barossa Valley town of Tanunda in early 1897 but died unexpectedly later the same year.



Composer, musician, conductor, teacher.

The composer of more than 500 works, including 12 symphonies, Alfred Hill was born in Melbourne but raised in New Zealand. After studying in Germany he returned to New Zealand, setting up a teaching academy and conducting the Wellington Orchestra. He collaborated with Arthur H. Adams in the early 1890s and wrote more than a dozen music theatre works, including pantomimes, musical comedies and comic operas, and several film scores. Hill became Professor of Theory and Composition at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music in 1916, and the State Symphony Orchestra’s conductor in 1922.



Horsley, Charles [SLV](1822-1876) Composer, musician, conductor, pedagogue, music critic.

Charles Horsley was employed in England as an organist, composer and teacher before travelling to Australia in 1861, where he served as organist to several Melbourne churches and conducted the Orpheus Union. He later collaborated with R.H. Horne on The South Seas Sisters (1866), composed a number of cantatas, and acted as conductor for the Melbourne Philharmonic Society. Horsley returned to England in 1871 after four years in Sydney (1867-70). His last composition to be staged while he resided in Australia was the cantata, Euterpe (1870).



(1855-1942)  British composer, music director, conductor [Born William August Juncker]

Juncker, AW [SYM 30 Sept 1908, 15]Born in Liverpool, England, August Juncker’s early career was with the Imperial Ottoman Bank in Cairo. He later studied music in Naples before coming to Australia in the early 1880s as conductor of the Dunning London Comic Opera Co. He toured throughout the Antipodes frequently with firms such as the Montague-Turner Co and J.C. Williamson and in the USA briefly conducted for Klaw and Erlanger.  The composer of two light operas and more than 70 songs, Juncker was for many years the Newcastle Musical Union’s conductor and an examiner for the London College of Music. He died in Sydney.

Image: Sydney Mail 30 Sept. 1908, 15 (courtesy of Peter Meyer).



Lardelli, GE [Ward-SOJ](1857-1910) English-born composer and pianist/organist

The son of Maurizio Giovanni Lardelli, a music professor from Brighton University,  Guglielmo Enrico Lardelli (F.R.C.O.) first came to Australia in 1875 as an eighteen year old.  During the course of his long and productive association with the country he composed hundreds of songs and pianoforte pieces, wrote the music for several theatrical monologues, and collaborated on at least one comic opera (Katherine, 1895). Although he returned to England several times (1876-1881 and 1896-1900), Lardelli’s career was mostly undertaken in Australia – notably in Maitland, Sydney and Perth. He also spent time in Grafton, Bathurst, Adelaide and Townsville. At various times he held positions as church organist, choirmaster, conductor, teacher and administrator.

This entry was initially compiled with assistance of Sean McGowan, Guglielmo Lardelli’s great-great-great grandson. Image: Sydney organ Journal 24.5 (2014), 23. (courtesy of Richard Ward).


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Published on December 15, 2011 at 1:14 am  Comments Off on Music Directors & Composers [Other]