By Jeanell Carrigan
There were many examples in the early part of the twentieth century in Australia of women who were exceptional pianists and who also wrote a great number of piano works. Many of these women were labelled child prodigies and obviously showed enormous potential and musical ability. These women performed as soloists and accompanists and contributed hugely to the musical and cultural life in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. They also left a large collection of compositions written for the solo keyboard.
To produce these three volumes within this Collection, Dr Jeanell Carrigan has researched and edited almost 50 works of Australian women composers, most of which have never been published. Each volume is accompanied by a CD of its works recorded by Jeanell. and biographical notes on each composer. All the composers were born between 1862 and 1915. Many of them lived for the whole of the twentieth century, and in that time experienced many changes in the way music was composed, thought about written about and performed. Of course, they experienced many difficulties. To be a composer in Australia during this period was a difficult enough, and to be a woman, was short of impossible!
The composers in this volume:
Ada Maud Fitz-Stubbs (1861-1949); Mona McBurney (1862-1932); Florence Donaldson Ewart (1864-1949); Mary Bowden (1868-1950); (Annie) May Summerbelle (1868-1949); Esther Khan (1877-1962); Una Bounre (1882-1974); May Brahe (1855-1956) and Katherine (Kitty) Parker (1886-1971)
"Nostalgia" CD is a collection of 28 works from these volumes and is available online
By Una Bournne
23 piano solos from 1897 (aged 5 years) to 1927 are represented in this collection and includes biographical notes about the composer, editorial and performance notes about each piano composition, the scores and a recording by Jeanell Carrigan of all works in the hard copy.
Una Bourne’s compositions are almost entirely for piano. Most of the works were published but there are several unpublished works held in archives by the State Library of Victoria. These include compositions transcribed by her elder sister Margaret, suggested by Una Bourne when she was five years old and are six small airs, all in C major, which appear, despite the different time signatures, like variations on each other. The six Airs appear in this publication exactly as transcribed by Margaret Bourne with no editing or dynamics added by this editor. Other works in the archives are also three songs: The War March (Fight for our Motherland); Anxiety to which she wrote both words and music and A Cloudless Night (song) words and music by Una Bourne (1922).
Unpublished piano solos also found in the archives include three more difficult works:
Valse Lente (unpublished)
Researched and edited by Jeanell Carrigan
Volume 4: Una Bourne
As part of 'The Composer's Series' many of these works have been recorded by Jeanell Carrigan on a CD Reverie (Wirr 106) available here
By Jeanell Carrigan
Early twentieth century Australian women composers and their piano music.
By Jeanell Carrigan
Alfred Hill, the Australian composer is reputed to have said “To me there are only two kinds of music - good or bad. All old music has at one time been modern and all modern music will one day become old so why worry? Time is a great critic that puts them in their place”.
The piano compositions on this recording have been deliberately chosen because of their beauty, their inherent musicality, the craft and skill of the composers and their appeal to the listener. Not considered in their selection was any decision based on whether the style was the fashion at the time of their composition. All of the composers on this recording are Australian women who were born between 1862 and 1915.
To support this recording, Dr Jeanell Carrigan has researched and compiled three volumes of scores of these and additional piano works, most of which have not previously been published. These volumes, together with individual CDs, are available online.
1 A Water Colour (Katherine Parker)
2 The Watermill (Ester Kahn)
3 The Lake (Dulcie Holland)
4 Pastorale (Peggy Glanville Hicks)
5 Country Dance (Iris de Cairos Rego)
6 Prelude No. I (Florence Donaldson Ewart)
7 Prelude No. II (Florence Donaldson Ewart)
8 Prelude No. III (Florence Donaldson Ewart)
9 Prelude (Phyllis Batchelor)
10 Sarabande (Phyllis Batchelor)
11 Dithyramb - a ballet (Margaret Sutherland)
12 Ballerina (Miriam Hyde)
13 Arc-e Ciel (Katherine Parker)
14 The Ballerina (Marjorie Hesse)
15 Gavotte (Mona McBurney
16 Waltz in E (Iris de Cairos Rego)
17 Echo de Vienne (Esther Rofe)
18 Valse Gracieuse (Marjorie Hesse)
19 Marche Grotesque (Una Bourne)
20 Melody in Ab (Mary Bowden)
21 Miniature Variations on a Theme in A minor (Esther Rofe)
22 Ritsel (Meta Overman)
23 Will o'the Wisp (Mirrie Hill)
24 Prelude (Mirrie Hill)
25 Fun (Mirrie Hill)
26 Meditation (Nellie Cuddigan)
27 Nocturne for Piano (Dulcie Holland)
28 Nocturne (Katherine Parker)
By Jeanell Carrigan
The painting on the front cover is a work called “Daydream” which was painted in 1895 by Australian artist Jane Sutherland. Jane Sutherland (1853-1928) was part of the Heidelberg school.
Jane Sutherland was also the aunt of Margaret Sutherland who has rightly earned the title “The Matriarch” of Australian composition. It is therefore completely appropriate that the artistry of this wonderful Australian woman painter should grace the recording which highlights the wonderful musical artistry of these four Australian women composers of piano music. Iris de Cairos-Rego, Una Bourne, Kitty Parker and Marjorie Hesse all had a great deal in common. Firstly, they were all born in Australia between 1880 and 1911. Iris de Cairos-Rego was born in Sydney in 1894, Una Bourne in Mudgee in 1882, Kitty Parker in 1886 in Parknook, Cressy, Tasmania and Marjorie Hesse in Brisbane in 1911.
All four women were dubbed as child prodigies due to their prodigious musical talent showing itself very early in life. As well as these factors all the women trained initially as pianists and later worked as teachers to earn the bulk of their living, passing on their incredible musicality and skills to many up and coming musicians. Iris de Cairos-Rego taught for many years at Frensham school in Mittagong, from 1935 until 1951, remaining as part of the school community until her death in 1987. Marjorie Hesse was a long-term member of the piano staff at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. Una Bourne was associated with the University of Melbourne, even providing a scholarship for women pianists and Kitty Parker had many private students.Wirr 106
 Nocturne (1925) Kitty Parker
 Happy Morning (c.1941) Iris de Cairos-Rego
 All Suddenly the Wind Comes Soft (1932) Marjorie Hesse
 Graneen Vale (1944) Iris de Cairos-Rego
 Petite Valse-Caprice Una Bourne
Four Musical Sketches (1928) Kitty Parker
 A Patchwork of Shadows
 Down Longford Way
 One Summer’s Day
 Red Admiral
 Albatross (1933) Iris de Cairos-Rego
 Papillons Una Bourne
 Romance (1947) Marjorie Hesse
 Two Impressions no. 1 (c.1927) Una Bourne
 Two Impressions no. 2 (c.1927) Una Bourne
 La Pastourelle (c.1961) Marjorie Hesse
 English June (1941) Iris de Cairos-Rego
 Firelight (1933) Iris de Cairos-Rego
 Humoresque (c.1927) Una Bourne
 Waltz in E (1933) Iris de Cairos-Rego
 Nocturne (c.1926) Una Bourne
 Twilight (1937) Marjorie Hesse
 Reverie (1957) Iris de Cairos-Rego