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Music of early Brisbane [sound recording] / guest presenter, Joan Bain
Bib ID 2508544
Format AudioAudio [sound recording]
Bain, Joan
Access Conditions Access open for research use; access open for quoting with acknowledgement to Radio 4MBS Classic FM; written permission required for audio reproduction from the Manager, Radio 4MBS Classic FM. 
Description 1981 Jan. 15 
1 sound cassette (ca. 54 min.) : analog, mono. 

Speaking about music (Radio 4MBS Classic FM)


The progamme notes the earliest record found of a musical performance in Brisbane was by a public band in 1859 and the colonial attitude towards music; description of Brisbane's Botanical Gardens circa 1859; the popularity of glee singing in England and in Australia; Brisbane's own Orpheus Glee Club formed in 1865 only to amalgamate in 1870 into the South Brisbane Harmonic Society in order to provide a broader range of musical performance and began performing in 1872; the later merging of the South Brisbane Harmonic Society with the North Brisbane Harmonic Society to become the Brisbane Musical Union; a short biography of talented musician and conductor R.T. Jefferies, born in England in 1841, who came to be known as "the father of Brisbane music"; his musical associates pianist Arabella Goddard and Antonio Benvenuti during the 1870s; the Benvenuti family assembled a notable musical library in both print and manuscript.

The programme continues with comments on the Theatre Royal which included musical vaudeville and variety; the building of the Brisbane Opera House in 1889 constructed by Irishman John M. O'Keefe and which hosted overseas opera companies from the 1890s; an historical appearance in Brisbane of Dame Nellie Melba on Aug. 10, 1909.

Full contents
  • MUSIC: - 1. Bold gendarmes.
  • 2. Glee music (sample).
  • 3. Excerpt of Gloria from Mozart's Coronation Mass [played by the Brisbane Music Union circa 1875].
  • 4. Heiden quartet [as might have been played by R.T. Jefferies Quartet].
  • 5. Chopin's Etude in C minor [possibly played by Jefferies' musical colleague Arabella Goddard].
  • 6. Drink to me only with thine eyes.
  • 7. Pansy faces / sung by Robert Tier.
  • 9. I have a song to singo (operetta).
  • 10. Caro nome from Verdi's Rigoletto / sung by June Bronhill.
  • 11. Caro nome from Verdi's Rigoletto / sung by Dame Nellie Melba (as recorded on June 8, 1926).

Richard Thomas Jefferies was born and educated in England in 1841, emigrating to Brisbane after his marriage in 1871. His first professional appearance as a violinist in February 1872 marked the beginning of a distinguished involvement with music: the establishment of the Brisbane Musical Union, formation of a family quartet with his three daughters who were also gifted musically, and conductor of the South Brisbane Harmonic Society. He also founded the Brisbane Musical Union Orchestra, was the organist at St John's Cathedral, St. Mary's, Kangaroo Point and All Saints Wickham Terrace. From 1876-1881 he was an importer of musical instruments in the firm Kaye, Paling & Jefferies. With James Brunton Stephens he published an Australian national anthem.

Antonio Benvenuti was born in Padua, near Venice, in 1820, becoming an experienced European linguist before emigrating to Brisbane in 1871 and became a close musical colleague of R.T. Jefferies. He had 3 sons, all competent musicians, and together they travelled widely across Queensland to provide musical entertainment. His son Victor was also musical conductor at Brisbane's Theatre Royal for many years. They lived close together in Fortitude Valley and the family built up the Benvenuti Orchestral Collection of vintage light music consisting of 20,000 titles, mostly manuscripts, of contemporary songs, orchestral sets, chamber music and instrumental solos collected from 1860-1940. From 1940-1960 dance band arrangements and light orchestral were added and in 1974 the Palm Court Orchestra acquired the whole collection from the Benvenuti family to hire out to Australian musical groups and orchestras.


Christopher Dean presents a special program in his radio series Speaking about music. His guest is Joan Bain an enthusiastic 4MBS subscriber who researched the early music of Brisbane in the Oxley Library archives and agreed to be co-presenter.

Dubbed in Radio 4MBS Studio, Brisbane on Jan. 15, 1981.

Digital master available National Library of Australia

Subjects Jefferies, R. T. (Richard Thomas), 1841-1920.  |  Benvenuti, Antonio Giovanni, 1820-1896.  |  Benvenuti, Victor Guiseppi, 1864-1923.  |  Brisbane Musical Union.  |  Benvenuti Orchestral Collection.  |  Theatre Royal (Brisbane, Qld.) -- History.  |  Brisbane Opera House -- History.  |  Musical societies -- Queensland -- Brisbane -- History -- 1851-1901.  |  Musicians -- Queensland -- Brisbane -- History -- 1851-1901.  |  Brisbane (Qld.) -- History -- 1851-1901 -- Songs and music.  |  Brisbane (Qld.) -- History -- 1901-1945 -- Songs and music.
Other authors/contributors Dean, Christopher, 1947 (January 18)-  |  Radio 4MBS Classic FM (Brisbane, Qld.)


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