By Rita Crews and Jeanell Carrigan
Biography of Dulcie Holland co-authored by Rita Crews OAM and Jeanell Carrigan AM
This wonderful Australian woman composer deserved to have her life and music celebrated much earlier, not twenty years after her death. But now it is been written by two musicians: one who knew Holland and had the opportunity to discuss her music with her; and one who has come to know Dulcie Holland from playing many of her remarkable compositions. Fortunately, there are detailed interviews available, giving a very good insight into Holland’s thought processes and providing an absolute wealth of information.
Holland was such a modest woman that she probably would have thought her music - and her life - was not worth writing about. She was always described as having an engaging and outgoing personality. She considered herself to be first a pianist, then a composer and thirdly a teacher, but composed music well into her eighties.
Her compositions, numbering at least 330, included music in all genres except opera, though her musical play Jenolan Adventure, was certainly a work of drama for the stage. Documentary films, chamber music, works for orchestra, instrumental solos, many keyboard works and at least thirty songs are all part of her immense contribution to Australian composition.
She is undoubtedly best known for the numerous musicianship and theory textbooks that she wrote over many years. Even the catalogue listing at the National Library mentions that “Holland’s name became synonymous with music theory in Australia.” Despite the obvious advantages of being the Australian expert on music theory, it has meant that Holland herself and some of her more serious compositions have been overlooked by musical critics.
It is a tragedy that a biography and discussion about Holland’s music has taken until now to be written. She is certainly a composer who deserves to be celebrated. In her own words:
But after many years of writing music, simply because I had the urge to do so, I have reached the strong conclusion that music is greater than the sum of all those who contribute to it, and that instead of adding to the volume of music that has been composed, it would be much more valuable to make new converts for music, to share my enthusiasm for it with those possibly as yet unaware, and to stimulate them to find out more of its mysteries and delights. I have had first-hand opportunities to observe how young people develop, how their tastes may be formed, and their imagination fired, and ultimately how their lives can be enriched by a knowledge and love of music. To encourage others along these lines has become my mission in life, and I dare to hope that my influence for good may continue long after my earthly life ends, thus adding significantly to the quality of life in at least one small part of this world.
Composing is very difficult. It needs a lot of concentration and dedication to get things just right. I feel I’m a missionary in music in a way. [Dulcie Holland. 'Contemporary Music Review', 1994, Vol. 11]
By Jeanell Carrigan
Early twentieth century Australian women composers and their piano music.
By Phillip Wilcher
Heart Matters is something of a compendium, a weighing together and balancing of thoughts, reflections and feelings with no rhyme to their reason or reason for their rhyme, save the occasional odd poem or two.
As much as there is no definitive autobiographical bent about the pages of this presentation, every thought and subtle disclosure moves beyond the surface of its expression, to hopefully engage the reader inter-connectedly with the inner dynamics of a thinking mind. Indeed, the feeling I had on coalescing end page to end page the entries herein, was that I was not only writing from my mind, be it consciously or otherwise, but forming a mind in the process.
Whatever the outcome, I hope that you, the reader, enjoy the sharing as much as I have pleasure in offering it to you. Perhaps it is that you will bring to my words more wisdom on reading them than I have in writing them, for what you recognize something as being, is also a measure of you.
By Alfred Hill
The publication of this diary introduces a new perspective on several aspects of musical and social history. We learn through the eyes and ears of a budding young colonial composer about musical life in Leipzig in a Golden Age of musical history when the city was host to a steady stream of names who are now enshrined as the greatest of the greats from the Romantic era. We are treated to first-hand accounts of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Bruch, Reinecke, Sarasate, Joachim, Strauss and Sitt, to mention but a few.
Compiled and edited by Donald Maurice.
By Olive Lawson
The Life of Composer Mirrie Hill
The names of Alfred Hill and Mirrie Hill have been often coupled in reference material on
music and a comparison of their work as composers has sometimes been posited. Mirrie Hill was gifted and able musician and composer.
One of Alfred Hill’s first students in Sydney was Mirrie Solomon. She had already studied with two other teachers of musical composition and was an accomplished pianist before becoming one of his pupils. Though they later would marry, there is no evidence that Alfred Hill influenced her composing style. Mirrie Hill was to be recognised as one of the few notable women composers of the twentieth century in Australia. During her lifetime she was best known for her contribution to music for young students of the pianoforte, but a later assessment might give her more credit for her music that was based on, and thereby honoured, the primitive music of some of Australia’s aboriginal people.
By Brennan Keats
The biography of Horace Keats 1895-1945 and the connection with some of his associate artists, such as, Peter Dawson, Barbara Russell and the poets, Kenneth Mackenzie, Hugh McCrae, Christopher Brennan and many others.
The book is illustrated with drawings by Hugh McCrae and includes many photographs of personalities of the period.
Includes double disc of songs by Horace Keats performed by: Jane Parkin (soprano), Gaven Lockley (baritone), Alexa Still (flute), Clemens Leske (piano).
By Phillip Wilcher
A life in conversation with itself
Within the learnedness of this most discerning and singularly profound truth dwells a humanness so vast in liberty and limitation, that it denies us any false face we might choose to show to the world in order to shun our truth, favouring more the integrity of our most integrated selves, the common presence present that is of a oneness inherent to all.
Only through the realization of our finest virtues, can we divine a way to endure with courage and compassion, the fullness of our humanity and all its frailties.
Through writing music I composed who I was becoming;
through composing words I now write of who I am.
If I am the sum total of my contradictions,
this is my truth.
CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT
By Patrick Thomas
A Conductor's Life. An autobiography. A story about a career in music from flautist in the ABC's Queensland Symphony Orchestra to a world of Australian and International orchestral conducting.
Patrick Thomas was not the product of a Conservatorium (there was none in Brisbane at the time) nor did he join the various young hopefuls who sought advanced training or conducting apprenticeships in famous overseas centres. When he jettisoned a burgeoning career as a flautist in the ABC’s Queensland Symphony Orchestra, this could have been the kiss of death in terms of achieving his ultimate ambition but, miraculously, eight years later, he was catapulted overnight into the world he'd always sought. To maintain favour in one’s country with its comparatively small music community can be more difficult than roaming the world where orchestras are plentiful and offer itinerant conductors an immense range of opportunities and alternatives. Sustaining a successful career in music for over 60 years takes more than luck but, in the end, it will be for others to judge the extent of his contribution and the conditions under which it was made.
By Brennan Keats
The dedications below encapsulate the contents of this book about the origins and formation of the publishing house Wirripang that can now claim to be the largest publisher of Australian sheet music in the world.
To my darling wife Anne (Annie), the driving force behind the not inconsiderable achievements of Wirripang.
To Wirripang, born of blood, tears and sweat; you rise, soar and glide on the rich winds of dedication, passion and love of all things cultural, high in a rarified atmosphere above an abused, tired and war-torn planet.
Both Anne and Brennan Keats were raised with a strong sense of the value of Australian culture. Anne, the product of country parents who later embraced the richness of city living yet retained a strong sense of country values, that included a great pride of Australia and all things Australian.
Brennan whose parents were both professional musicians had instilled in him from an early age the value of music from a deeply cultural viewpoint, yet at the same time it was made clear to him that music would not be his profession.
Both parents left their respective children a legacy; in the case of Anne a strong work ethic and as stated love of country; in the case of Brennan a considerable collection of music, some being unpublished because the publishers of the day looked not to its cultural value but rather to the money it would generate them.
Over the years both offspring, albeit unconsciously, gradually worked to combining their respective legacies to form an enterprise that would publish music of cultural value with a view to bringing it before a discerning public, as well as ensuring that it would not be lost to future generations. This is their story. There were tears spilt by them; there were many late nights and early mornings; there were ghosts; there are examples of dedication to their art by some who have become the strongest of friends and remain with Wirripang to the present day, and above all and in us all a passion for Australian culture.
By Brennan Keats
Born to a privileged country life and raised in the best of Victorian tradition by three maiden aunts, her early education instilled a love of matters intellectual, cultural and an attraction to those who pursue it. Her experience of war and its horror was both indirect and direct. Towards the end of WWI she performed as a volunteer singer and pianist in the ‘rest rooms’ provided for the soldiers, and saw the impact upon their young lives. During WWII her contact with war was devastated by the loss of her eldest son. Her choices of husbands were men of exceptional artistic ability. Her first longest and happiest marriage was to a gifted musician and composer, her second to a man of words, both men leaving a lasting cultural legacy that exists to the present day. Her third marriage was to a man whose cultural and intellectual abilities were inhibited by his Norfolk Island upbringing and WWII.
Through her strength and strong belief she raised her youngest son passing on her beliefs so setting the course for the evolution of the Australian music publishing house, Wirripang.