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
Robertson to Zwar ……. p2



McCarthy, C. W. [CATH 27 June 1907, 23](1848-1919) Medical practitioner, musician, composer, painter and sculpture. [Born in Fethard, Tipperary, Ireland]

Charles William MacCarthy demonstrated great musical ability and sporting prowess from childhood. Determined to pursue a medical career he entered the Catholic University School of Medicine, Dublin. He eventually graduated M.D. at the University of Brussels in 1884 and was admitted a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. That same year he immigrated to Australia. MacCarthy’s musical activity saw him write, arrange and publish songs, including several patriotic war-songs. His biggest success was “The Toast is ANZAC! Gentlemen.” He also collaborated with Harry Taylor on the comic opera Lady Nora (1907), lectured and wrote on music, and in 1912 co-founded the Tom Moore concerts at which he was an accompanist.

1: MacCarthy’s obituaries all indicate that he wrote several comic operas. This is also mentioned in his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. However, no other works of this nature have been identified to date via Trove’s digitised newspaper service. He died in Sydney on 7 June 1919
2: A devout Catholic, MacCarthy’s paintings were mainly on religious themes. His sculptures were also much admired by the public and critics alike. Interestingly he was self-taught as a sculpture.
Image source: Catholic Press (Sydney) 27 June 1907, 23.



(1792 -1864) Composer, performer, teacher, critic, theorist and musical publisher [Born in Canterbury, England]

nathan-isaac-slnswConsidered the father of Australian Music, Isaac Nathan was the first composer to write and stage an opera in Australia (Don John of Austria, 1847), and the first to transcribe Aboriginal music. Educated at Cambridge University he had composed several comic operas and burlettas, scored much success with his Hebrew Melodies collection(1815), and served as King George IV’s music librarian before immigrating to Australia in 1841. After settling in Sydney he opened an singing academy, became choral director of St Mary’s Cathedral and quickly established himself among the city’s elite. Many of his songs were performed in concerts and some inserted into popular theatrical entertainments. He also assisted the careers of numerous colonial musicians.

  • For further details see: “The Composer Nathan.” Australasian Chronicle 25 Feb. (1841), 2 • Catherine Mackerras, “Nathan, Isaac (1792-1864).” Australian Dictionary of Biography 2 (1967); and The Hebrew Melodist: The Life of Isaac Nathan. Sydney: Currawong, 1963 • Graeme Skinner. “Isaac Nathan.” Dictionary of Sydney (2008) • “Isaac Nathan.” State Library of New South Wales • “Isaac Nathan.” Wikipedia.
1: Although Don John of Austria is regarded as the first opera to have been written and staged in Australia, Nathan actually completed a comic opera in 1843 in collaboration with Charles Nagel, this being Merry Freaks in Troublous Times. It has never been given a full production, however (only excerpts were performed).
2: Three of Nathan’s London operas were staged in Sydney in the 1840s, while selections from Hebrew Melodies, a collaboration with Lord Byron, were also popular on the concert stage. In 1845 he also provided incidental music and a song for David Burns’ tragedy The Queen’s Love. His Australian publications include Series of Lectures on the Theory and Practice of Music (1846) and The Southern Euphrosyne and Australian Music Miscellany (1849).
3: Nathan was killed alighting from a horse-drawn tram in Sydney on 15 January 1864.
Image source: State Library of New South Wales



Orchard, W. A. [nla](1867-1961) Organist, pianist, composer and conductor [Born in London]

William Arundel Orchard graduated from Durham University in 1893 with B.Mus, and three years later moved to the Australasian region, initially working in Perth (as choir director), Hobart and New Zealand (as teacher, organist and conductor) before settling in Sydney in 1903. He became the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s first conductor (1908) and from 1916 to 1934 taught at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music (serving as its director from 1923). Between 1935 and 1938 he taught at the University of Tasmania. Orchard’s music theatre works include two comic operas, The Coquette (1905) and The Emperor (1906), and an opera, Dorian Gray (1919). He died on 7 April 1961 while returning to Australia.

1: Among Orchard’s other works are the cantata, Uller the Bowman (1909) and two books: The Distant View (1943) and Music in Australia (1952). He was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Music, London, in 1931 and in 1936 was appointed O.B.E.
2: The University of Durham made Orchard Doctor of Music (DMus) in 1928.
3: Orchard also conducted the Sydney Madrigal and Chamber Music Society between 1908 and 1915. After moving back to Sydney in 1938 he was appointed Visiting Examiner for the Trinity College of Music, a position which saw him travelled around Australia for the next 20 years.
Image source: National Library of Australia.



(ca. 1883-1949) Composer, music director, songwriter. [Born in Paris]

After graduating from university in Paris, where he studied mathematics, Latin and Greek, Willy Redstone initially pursued a career as an engineer before studying music at the Paris Conservatoire. While still a student his light opera Le Trou d’Almanzor (1907) became a hit and led to much work as both composer and conductor in Paris and in London during the 1910s. Brought to Australia by Hugh J. Ward in 1922 to oversee The O’Brien Girl he remained here, carving out a career as music director, songwriter, and theatre and film score composer. He also conducted the first symphony orchestra broadcast on radio (1928), and worked for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) from 1932 until his death.

Redstone was reportedly a nephew of French composer Gounod. One of his early theatrical hits in Australia was a 1924 musical comedy adaptation of the hit London farce Tons of Money (1922). He later contributed music to such films as The Flying Doctor (1936) and 40,000 Horsemen (1940). Redstone died in Sydney on 30 September 1949. He was the ABC’s Federal Music Editor from 1938.



Composer, conductor, lyricist, music director.

Although described in 1910 as a Scotsman, Phil L. Scowcroft indicates that J.A. Robertson was Australian by birth and that he became involved in English musical theatre during the early 1900s. Robertson’s name has first been identified to date in connection with John F. Sheridan‘s Australasian tour (1889-92). Several of his songs were also published during the early 1890s including “Because I Love Thee So (1890) and “Stand by your Guns (with Bert Royle, 1892). Robertson’s music theatre works include: In Sunny Scotland (1901), Winnie Brooks, Widow (1904), Moll the Rogue (1905) and his greatest success, Butterflies (1908).

The 10 May 1890 edition of the Argus refers to Robertson as a “local” (4).



Composer, musician, British civil administrator, Vice Regal representative (Governor of Prince Edward Island, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia), arts patron.

William Robinson spent most of his career as an administrator in the Colonial Office, including three terms as Governor of Western Australia. In addition to his public service career Robinson also found success as a composer of patriotic and sentimental ballads, notably “Unfurl the Flag.” In 1894 he collaborated with Francis Hart on the operetta, Predatoras (aka The Handsome Ransom), which was staged in both Perth and Melbourne. He returned to England in 1895 following his final term as Western Australian Governor. He died on 2 May 1897 at South Kensington, England.



Little is currently known about Hubert Russell, despite being referred to in 1917 as a musician of long-standing in Sydney (Arrow 30 Nov. 1917, 3). His name has first been identified as music director and arranger for the Eastern Suburbs Musical Comedy Society’s 1915 production What Is It? (to the book by Stanley A. Kilminster). Two years later his collaboration with Les Williams, the comic opera, The Merchant of Bassora (1917) was given a three night season at Sydney’s Repertory Theatre (early December). His association with Sydney theatre in general, and the Repertory Theatre in particular, saw him also invited to perform at a 1918 recital featuring songs by the Society’s business manager Oswald Anderson [above].

No other references to Russell after 1918 have yet been confirmed. It is also unclear if the Mrs Hubert Russell, prominently identified with the Girl Guides in Sydney during the late-1920s (as Honorary Secretary), was his wife.



aka Luscombe Searell

Searelle, Luscombe [](1853-1907) Composer, music director, pianist.

Considered a child prodigy as pianist and composer, Luscombe Searelle was born in England but raised in New Zealand. Between 1875 and 1886 he wrote and staged several comic operas, including The Wreck of the Pinafore (1875), Estrella (1883) Bobadil (1884) and Isidora (1885). He also toured his musical comedy, Diamond Cut Diamond (1877), throughout Australasia with Hart and Searell’s Operetta and Burletta Co. After being declared bankrupt in 1886 Searelle moved to South Africa for over a decade. His last opera, Mizpah, was produced in San Francisco ca. 1905.

A number of sources incorrectly claim that Searelle was born Isaac Israel. Records held by St. Paul’s Anglican Church Cemetery at Papanui (New Zealand) show, however, that he was the son of Thomas and Harriet Searell, formerly of Chudleigh Kneighton, Devon



(1907 – ?) Critic, editor, radio programme director, composer, musician

Senior, Evan [Adelaide Museum]Evan Senior studied music in his youth and later abandoned law to work for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) as a radio programme director and announcer. His comedy, On the Airways (1931), specially written for radio became the first locally-written music theatre work to be broadcast by the ABC. His comedy, Appointment at Nine made its radio the following year. Senior later wrote drama and music criticism for the Adelaide News before moving to Britain in 1947 where he later founded the classical music magazines Music and Musicians and Records and Recordings.



aka Reginald A.A. Stoneham

Stoneham, Reg A.(1879-1942) Composer, musician, librettist, dramatist, publisher. [Born Reginald Alberto Agrati Stoneham in Carlton, Melbourne]

The son of William Stoneham (ca. 1833-1913), one of the earliest professional orchestral musicians in Australia, Reginald Stoneham, worked in the orchestral department of Palings, Sydney, during the early 1900s and later established himself as a musician/composer (specialising in ragtime and jazz) and music publisher. Although he does not appear to have been directly involved with the variety industry many of his compositions were performed (and some recorded) by local vaudeville and revue performers. His major musical works included the musical comedy F.F.F. – a collaboration with entrepreneur/businessman C.J. De Garis (1922); and the “musical comedy novelette, Marylyn, which was broadcast in 1937, and performed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) Orchestra and Chorus.

1: Most of Stoneham’s siblings were also involved in music in some way, including Harry (cornet) and Herbert (flue), and Fred and Will (who were both London-based music hall artists by 1913). A sister, Elsa (contralto) was reportedly working in the US by 1913. Reginald also reportedly served in the Boer War with the South Australian Contingent (as a trumpeter).
2: In addition to his musical works Stoneham wrote at least one radio play – the 25 minute Commerce and Heart (broadcast on relay by 3LO, Sydney in 1936).
Image source: Green Room (Sydney) Sept. 1920, 18.



(1839-1917) English-born organist, music director/conductor, composer, author.

Summers, Joseph []Oxford University-trained organist/pianist/composer Joseph Summers immigrated to Australia in 1865, establishing himself in Melbourne through various secular and educational posts. He collaborated with such writers as R.H. Horne (Galatea Secunda, 1866), J. Brunton Stephens and Henry Kendall, helped produced numerous popular concerts, and wrote songs for variety shows (including Hiscocks’ Federal Minstrels and the Mammoth Minstrels). He moved to Perth in 1897 and later founded a Philharmonic Society and a Liedertafel. Summers’ other works include the poetic music drama The Two Worlds (1901/03) and a memoir – Music and Musicians: Personal Reminiscence (1910).

Not be confused with variety theatre pianist and music director Joe Somers or Perth-based comedian Joe Summers.
Image source: Cyber Hymnal



Truman, Ernest 1 [CofSydney Image Library]Organist, composer, conductor.

Ernest Truman studied at London’s Royal College of Music (London) and after returning to Australia in 1894 became the organist at a number of Sydney churches, while also focusing on composition. Among his works are a dramatic symphony, The Deities (Opus 30), completed in 1895, and collaborations on the operettas Club Life (with A.B. “Banjo” Paterson, 1895) and The Magic Cloak (with Bernard Espinasse, 1896). His opera Mathis also debuted in 1902. During his 26 years tenure as Sydney City organist (1909-35) Truman organised more than 3,000 concerts and civic events.



(1858-1942) Scottish-born composer, librettist, musician (organ/piano), theatrical manager, soldier and journalist.

Fred Weierter studied medicine in Edinburgh before a disagreement with his father led to him enlisting in the British Army. After coming to the Australian colonies in 1883 he spent many years working as a church organist and music teacher in regional South Australia and Victoria. He also reportedly toured Gippsland as pianist with a dramatic company at some stage. Weierter joined the Williamson and Musgrove firm as composer and music director in 1899, and later toured Australasia and South Africa with John F. Sheridan. His contribution to popular theatre included incidental music, songs, choruses and ballets for pantomimes, extravaganzas and musical comedies – including Little Red Riding Hood (1899), Australis; Or, the City of Zero (1900), King Dodo, Cinderella, Mrs Goldstein (all 1902) and Mother Goose (1914). Weierter also toured his own Australian Comic Opera Company during the early-1910s.

1. Born in the Bonnington district of Edinburgh, Scotland, on 4 March 1858, Weierter was taught organ, piano and music theory by his father, Friedrich Anton Ludwig Weierter, a music teacher. His mother was Sarah Holiday (nee Kay).
2. Weierter reportedly served with the 3rd Hussars in India and was sent to South Africa in 1878 to join the British-Zulu War. He later fought in the first Boer War (1880-81), reportedly acting as a galloper to Sir Evelyn Wood. During his time in South Africa he was also employed as organist by St Saviour’s Cathedral, Pietermaritzburg.
3. Weierter’s military training saw him serve as a drill instructor in Australia during the Great War. He eventually turned to journalism, becoming a staff member of the Sydney Morning Herald.
4. Weierter and his wife, Marion Grace (nee White) had two children. He passed away on 25 Aug 1942 in the Sydney suburb of Waverley.
Image source:



New Zealand-born music director, composer, publishing representative, businessman

The nephew of New Zealand-based newspaper publisher and politician George Jones, Frederick Wynne Jones moved to Australia in the late 1890s, becoming a representative of publisher William Brooks and Co. His original compositions had also begun to attract the attention of Australasian music publishers, which led to him pursuing a career in music and theatre. As one of the region’s most versatile and accomplished music directors and composers, Wynne Jones’ worked in pantomime, musical comedy, opera, drama and film. His theatre career saw him associated with Clarke, Meynell and Gunn, George Willoughby, Oscar Asche and J.C. Williamson’s.

  • For further details see: Clay Djubal. “F. Wynne Jones.” AustLit: The Australian Literature Resource (2014)
Wynne Jones reportedly spent time in the USA ca. (1904-05). No trace of his career has been located after 1918 and it is yet to be ascertained whether he and Frederick Wynne Jones, the American-based manager for German film production company Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft (UFA) during the late 1920s and early 1930s, are one and the same person. Interestingly, Wynne Jones, former Bulletin editor J. F. Archibald,and Union Theatres’ general manager W. Barrington Miller were among the co-founders/directors of the Teheroa Packing Company (1916-), a firm with business interests in fish, sausage and soup manufacturing (“New Companies.” Sunday Times 11 June 1916, 7).



(1911-1989) Composer, lyricist.

Charles Zwar first professionally produced musical comedy, Blue Mountains Melody (1934), was a collaboration with J.C. Bancks (Ginger Meggs cartoonist). The year before, however, he had provided additional lyrics to T. Stuart Gurr and Varney Monk’s hit musical comedy Collits’ Inn. Zwar left Australia for Britain in 1936 and carved out a successful career on the London stage as a composer and musical director for musical comedies and revues. He also contributed material to several Australian revues in the 1950s and 1960s, including Is Australia Really Necessary? (1964).


Image citation details for entries without expanded biographies are noted at the bottom of the overview. All other image details are provided in the expanded PDF biographies.
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Published on December 15, 2011 at 1:14 am  Comments Off on Music Directors & Composers [Other]