Category Archives: Music

H…A…R…P…S

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The starting point for this week’s Sepia Saturday will send participants running for all the harp and angel related  photos in their family albums

 

H………A………..R………..P………..S

 

 

 

h

is for hair which sometimes supports a circlet of flowers such as in the ring of roses worn by the bride and bridesmaid in this 1948 family wedding at Scots  Church, Melbourne,

Norma's Weddinga - Copy

is for angel – it is believed that angels play harps but in this case my angelic granddaughter clasps a recorder.

angel-12-97r - Copy

is for repeat because I have another angel to show you,  a knitted knitting angel.

Knitting Angelp - Copy

is for playing a musical instrument, not a harp this time but another stringed instrument, the piano, played by the young angel above, practising during her brief venture into piano lessons.

piano practices

is for St John of God Hospital in Geelong where for over twenty years harpist  Peter Roberts has offered music on a one-to-one basis to fragile and vulnerable people in a medical setting,  compassionate care through music.

Peter Roberts music Thanatologist at St John of God Hospital

Peter Roberts music Thanatologist at St John of God Hospital

(From Australian Story ABC TV 14-6-2010 Transcript here)

PETER ROBERTS, THANATOLOGIST: The instrument itself doesn’t have the power. It sits there on its own and it doesn’t do anything until it’s touched. It’s about the person who’s playing it. Honestly, it is. When I take the harp out of the car and roll it into the hospital, usually there’s curiosity and surprise. A funny thing usually happens when I get into an elevator with people and there’s that silence that happens when the door closes. And I always say, “You’re in big trouble now.” And then they’ll laugh and they’ll say, “Well where are your wings?” I always say that well the music is not that good.

Each time a baby is born at St John of God they play a short recording of Peter playing  Brahms Lullaby on his harp over the loud speaker system  to announce the birth.  And when you are lying in bed sick and hear this soft, slow and sweet  melody it is very comforting to know that life is just starting somewhere else in the building.

This is the segment but played by John Kovac.   Do close your eyes and listen and let your thoughts roam free.

You can see more people connecting to this weeks theme image on Sepia Saturday

Theatre Props

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This week Sepia Saturday has suggested all things wine related as our theme.  What to do?

Have a look at the photo in the header.

Is that two bottles of wine on the table ?  Or is it one bottle of wine and one bottle of something else ?  I don’t think they are bottles of  tomato sauce   After all it is Paris.

Vera 1989

And this is a picture of my mother, Vera Fricke, taken on her 90th birthday in 1989.  Little did she know that one day this photo of her would go soaring around the world for many people to see.

So what is the connection between  my mother and the bottle of wine in the header image ?

I copied the header image from the front cover of a theatre program for a production of La Boheme in  1987, a performance my mother had attended.  Geelong was one of eight Victorian country towns where the show was presented by the Victoria State Opera.. It was early in the professional careers of a Girl from Geelong and a Boy from Ballarat, Cheryl Barker and David Hobson who played Mimi and Rodolfo

La Boheme 1987 programIt was a pleasure to see Cheryl Barker performing again in her home town  as I had first seen her as a teenager in the lead role of the Belmont  High School production of The Pajama Game, more than ten years earlier

Later in the early 1990s  the same pair  played the same roles in Sydney but this time the production was in the hands of Australian film director Baz Luhrmann  (The Great Gatsby, Moulin  Rouge, etc) with the design in the hands of his wife Oscar Winning designer  Catherine Martin. The opera  was  set in 1957 for this production and is now on video.

Here is an excerpt from Act i where Mimi and Rodolfo have just met and exchange information about themselves.  Enjoy. I know I do.

La Boheme was the first opera I saw on a stage in the late 1950s and has remained my favorite. That was in Melbourne long before the Victoria State Opera existed.  But Mr Google hasn’t been able to help me trace the performance. Among my many memories of that night is the entrance of Musetta in Act Two.  The result of her shopping is on the floor beside her.  An oval-shaped hat box is accidentally knocked over as a result of which it rolled towards the front of the stage ker-lunk…ker-lunk…ker-lunk… and bounced off one of the musicians in the orchestra pit while the singers sang on without missing a beat.  I’m sure there would have been some wine bottles among the theatre props on that night too.

See more wine related stories on this week’s Sepia Saturday.

Polka Music in Geelong

The railway line between Melbourne and Geelong opened in 1857 and in 1866 von Rochlitz published the Geelong – Melbourne Railway Polka, this copy from the National Library of Austtalia.   It was a common practice for a new song to be  commissioned for the band to play at the opening of a new railway.

Geelong-Melbourne Railway Polka

Over the years Polkas appear in the programs of musical entertainments in Geelong including performances by Geelong’s Volunteer Rifle Band, the oldest Victorian Militia unit, first raised in 1854 in Geelong as a Volunteer Rifle Corps

The Volunteers were present for the arrival of the first train and the official opening of the Geelong Railway Station  and so was a band who played some spirited items.   A huge banquet was arranged but unfortunately the train was late and the locals had their fill of the feast before the  invited guests arrived, including the Governor, Members of Parliament  and other dignitaries.

The Geelong Artillery Band , as the Volunteer Rifle Corps band later became,  is commemorated in the Bollard Walk along the seafront.  The band played its  first recital in 1861

bollard band

And what could they possibly be playing ?

Geelong Polka music  Flickr 3374324250_5290276276_z

My grandfather, Tom Tansey, joined this band some time after arriving in Australia in 1888  and was with them until 1899.  This photo of the Artillery band was taken in 1890

Artillery-1890And was Tom with the band when this photo was taken ?  I don’t know. His portrait (below) was in the uniform of the Geelong Town Band c1900.

Tom-ValveTrombone

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This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday for this week but there are plenty more examples of polkas, violets, music and mystery posts to be found in the links on the Sepia Saturday page.

 

Dockside with the Randwick District Town Band

This week Sepia Saturday  has given us an image of a harbour, with its docks busy with ships.  And so I go to a Sydney dockside, back in  the  1960s when the big liners were a way of travelling from country to country and not just for holiday cruises, ships like the Oronsay travelling  from Sydney to England in about 3 weeks.   It was also a time when brass bands would play dockside as the liner was leaving.  In this photo from the 1960s it is the Randwick District Town Band which had formed in 1961.  Hilda Tansey. now in her sixties, is near the lower right hand corner, long after she was Bandmaster of the Sydney Ladies Brass Band.  Each departure was a big occasion

Randwick Band 1960s

Today we  don’t see aeroplanes departing for overseas being farewelled in such style.

The following quote is taken out of its original context which dealt with more creative activities,   http://tinyurl.com/q2pp332

 `There’s something to be said for following those little voices in your head that say, “Do it.”

`Because if you don’t, that moment gets lost to history.

But I feel it applies equally well to my  posts in Sepia Saturday (and to yours too).   In time there is always a reader or two who has a definite connection to what i am writing. When I link photos, facts and occasionally speculations there is always the possibility that if I don’t some little thing will be lost to history for all time . I’m not referring to momentous events but to the changing way of life over the years..

This week I started converting a box of slides from the 1960s into .jpg format for the computer.  So when browsing today I was delighted to find that the Daily Mail online has an article on slides from the 1960s which have been recovered.

There you will find a delightful snapshot of Britain in the 1960s. Most of my slides seem a bit ordinary in comparison but some might be of interest in the future.  For example, does anyone at children’s birthday parties nowadays play games like these, as in 1961.

Which brings me  to what Sepia Saturday is all about, as they state on their blog.

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind (they don’t have to be sepia) become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images.

I like that expression launch pad.  It is exactly what  we do, begin with a photo and then launch ourselves off in varying directions   Fantastic.  Thank you Sepia Saturday.

More harbours, ports, docks, coastlines at this week’s Sepia Saturday.

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Tom Breaks the Law

Subtitled,   A Fishy Tale from Traralgon  in south-eastern Victoria

I had posted this story earlier in the year but I didn’t link it to Sepia Saturday at the time so perhaps you haven’t seen it. But it fits in to this week’s theme of All Things Criminal so I will re-blog it.

In February 1916 the fishing in the river at Traralgon in Gippsland was going well and was reported in the Gippsland Farmer’s Journal on February 8th, mentioning Bandmaster Tom Tansey and two of the bandsmen.

Feb 1916 fishing Traralgon 1But lthe following year it was a completely different story.

In the Australian song Waltzing Matilda the trooper comes riding down on his thoroughbred to the billabong and asks the swagman to show him the stolen Jumbuck (sheep) that he has stowed in his tuckerbag

In this story the policeman rode down to the riverbank and asks the fisherman to show him the undersized trout that he has stowed in his tuckerbag. On Feb 27th 1917 the Traralgon Record screamed the heading

Heading feb 27 1917The local resident in question was the town’s Bandmaster,  my grandfater, Tom Tansey, one of the local “fisher folk” who “betook themselves” to the banks of the Traralgon Creek to fish but not observing the regulations as to size.

Even the Bairnsdale Advertiser on March 3rd, 1917, gave a full report.

… and there espied John T. Tansey dangling a rod and line in the placid waters of that stream near Koornalla. The inspectors approached the fisherman and the constable remarked. “Hullo, got any fish. Mr Tansey, ?” The angler confessed that he had “one:” and on being asked to produce it for inspection he fumbled about his bag and then presented one about 14 or 15 inches long. That’s well over the size,”said the Constable “You’ve got some more there, let’s see them.” The sportsman demurred but on being pressed produced another fish, ..

Gradually more and more fish were produced from the bag, all of them undersized, i.e. less than 11 inches long. The Constable took possession of the fish and promptly took them to the local butter factory so they could later be presented in court in a nice fresh state as evidence of Tom’s naughty deed. He was brought to court in front of three local magisgrates, and was fined £2 plus costs.

What the newspaper doesn’t say is that Tom and at least one of the magistrates knew each other. Dr McLean was President of the Town Band, of which Tom was bandmaster, and may have played a part in bringing Tom to Traralgon. Dr MacLean had come to the town in 1904. as a young doctor, fresh from the Geelong Hospital and was the only doctor in Traralgon during the years of the First World War. He had also played football for.Geelong

So he had been living in Geelong at the same time as Tom, when Tom was well known for his skill as a brass instrument player. Tom had been winning medals for his solo performances at the National Band Championships at the beginning of C20th, a time when the bandsmen were revered in the same way that pop idols are nowadays. When the Geelong Town Band was leaving for competitons crowds would follow them as they marched up the street to the railway station and greet them on their return.

Here they are in the same photo when the Traralgon Band and Members made a presentation to Dr McLean. with Dr McLean in the centre, Tom with his medals to the left and a young Hilda Tansey at the top.

McLean PresentationIt is interesting to wonder if the news of Tom’s fishing trip made it back to his mother, in England, or to his younger brother William. At the time William was Gamekeeper at Cotterstock House in Northhamptonshire. Tom and William, oppposite ends of a spectrum but half a world apart. What would William have done if he had been inspecting the creek and had come across Tom fishing ! And as a bit of trivia, Cotterstock House is where the movie Woman in Black with Daniel Radcliffe was filmed.

Transcript from the Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo Chronicle, Saturday, March 3rd, 1917

UNDERSIZED FISH.
TRARALGON RESIDENT PROSECUTED
For some time past, says the Record, there has been a suspicion amongst members of the Traralgon, Fish and Game Protection Society that all the “fisher folk” Who betook themselves to the banks of the creek for the ostensible purpose of fishing for trout were not observing the regulations as to size ,of the fish they took from the creek. During last month Constable Lineen, an inspector of the Fisheries Department, and Christian Stammers, an honorary Inspector, paid a visit to the upper reaches of the Traralgon Creek and there espied John T. Tansey dangling a rod and line in the placid waters of that stream near Koornalla. The inspectors approached the fisherman and the constable remarked. “Hullo, got any fish. Mr Tansey, The angler confessed that he had “one:” and on being asked to produce it for inspection he fumbled about his bag and then presented one about 14 or 15 inches long. That’s well over the size,”s aid the Constable “‘You’ve got some more there, let’s see them.” The sportsman demurred but on being pressed, produced another fish. “That seems to be undersized remarked the constable. “Have you any more ?” “Uh, no” replied the fisherman “only a salmon trout”. “Well, let’s see it” persisted the policeman. A trout, somewhat smaller than the other one was produced. The constable informed the angler that he would have to take possession of the fish. He measured them in the angler’s presence, one measuring 10 inches and the other 9 ½ inches in length and both were cleaned and ready for cooking. In explanation of having these fish in his possession the fisherman said he had caught several smaller ones and had thrown them back, but the two in question were so badly hooked that they died when the hook was extracted and he put them in his bag. Such was the summary of the evidence given at the petty sessions when Tansey was called upon to answer to a charge of being in possession of certain fish of a less length than that prescribed by section 28 of the Fisheries Act, the said fish being indigenous to Victoria. Defendant was fined £2 with £14/- costs.

More Criminal Tales and more Non-Criminal Tales are to be seen on Sepia Saturday.

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A Cane Chair in Beechworth with a side serve of Brass Bands

Sepia Saturday has suggested cane chairs – or should I say wicker furniture – as a possible theme for this week.  Here is Amelia Tansey in 1931 nursing one of her four grandchildren while seated in a cane chair  at the side of her house in Camp St, Beechworth .

CampS7, , Beechworth  1931

So while wifie was at home cooking, cleaning, washing, sewing etc, etc,  what was hubby Bandmaster Tom doing?   If not at work he might have been at the State School training their brass band.

He would have been using his favourite teaching methods.  My cousin Larraine gave me a copy of his hand-written notes in his lovely  cursive script  This is the first page of three.

Tansey's Silly System 1Here is Tom at the centre of the State School Band playing in front of the school in 1931.

Beechworth School Band in front of school 1931And then again after playing at the hospital for Christmas in 1931. Some of the boys look quite old but some schools went up to  the 8th grade and the boys would be 14 or 15.

Beechworth School Band in front of the hospital 1931

At other times he might have been rehearsing  the Town Brass Band. or putting the band through their marching practice, this time in 1934

Beechworth Town Band 1934

Other  interpretations of this week’s  theme can be found at Sepia Saturday

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Folk Dancing at School in 1970

We sometimes called it Folk Dancing, at other times Country Dancing.  I don’t know how much resemblance there is between the dance that these children are doing and true folk dancing..  But this is what these school children were taught in 1970 for a display at their annual school fete.

So from home movie to tape  to DVD to computer and the gradual loss of quality this is what the St John’s Lutheran School fete looked like in Geelong in 1970, beginning with a display of folk dancing.

 

The music is Percy Grainger’s Country Gardens.

Other examples of dancing and folk traditions among many other things can be found on Sepia Saturday.

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The Red Shadow – in Melbourne

When young I didn’t have to contribute much to the household chores except for doing the dusting on a Saturday morning. On my mother’s dressing table was an old-fashioned cream celluloid photo frame displaying a photo of my father,     I discovered that there was a postcard photo of someone else slipped in behind my father.

Lance Fairfax as The Red Shadow in The Desert song, Melbourne, 1928

Lance Fairfax as The Red Shadow in The Desert song, Melbourne, 1928

I would put this photo of Lance Fairfax to the front and at some later stage someone would restore my  father to the front position without anything being said., week after week, after week.

In the photo Lance Fairfax (1899-1974) is pictured in his role as the Red Shadow in The Desert Song which had  opened in Melbourne in September 1928 for a 28 week run. Lance, who was born in New Zealand, had been a distinguished soldier in World War 1 and a sportsman, then pursued a career as a baritone both in Australia and overseas.

The Desert Song is an operetta by Sigmund  Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein.  At the time. the Arabs in North Africa were romanticized as they rebelled against French Colonial rule. Think of Beau Geste or Lawrence of Arabia.  In 1925 there was an uprising by a group of Moroccan fighters called the Riffs and this inspired the storyline for The Desert Song. Then in best Scarlet Pimpernel fashion we have the  quiet, uninteresting character who though known to us but not by the cast keeps transforming into the handsome and dashing hero who wins the beautiful maiden.

Of interest on the back of the postcard is Broadcasting Co of Australia Pty Ltd.  This the independent national public broadcaster founded in 1929 and which took over several other funded radio stations to form a single  whole.  There were many live broadcasts and Lance was a part of that.  The front of the postcard mentions 3LO and 3AR the two Melbourne stations.

Lance rode his horse on stage in the production of The Desert Song so it was interesting to see this newspaper report in 1931.

Lance Fairfax’s Steed. MELBOURNE, March 29. 1931

A horse used by Lance Fairfax in the operetta, The Desert Song, last night figured In an amazing accident In Carlton. The horse, which was attached to a cab. bolted half a mile. and then slipped in a gutter. The cab overturned on top of an Italian woman. Sablna Benporath. aged 30 and her three children, one of whom 13 months old was critically Injured. The others suffered minor injuries

The Desert Song was staged at his Majesty’s in Melbourne again in 1945 with Max Oldaker in the lead role.  This was my introduction to the Desert Song.

The outside and inside of the four-fold paper theatre programme in Melbourne in 1945

The show had  premiered on Broadway in 1926 and was made into an early sound film in 1929 which was very faithful to the original stage show,  Here is John Boles singing The Riff Song in the movie.

 

Isn’t that just gorgeous  !

Lance Fairfax played  the role of the Red Shadow in Melbourne in 1928 but I can’t find video of him in that role,  but here is  a very brief view of him singing Toreador in a movie of Carmen.

The 1929 movie of The Desert Song  has an interesting history. By the 1940s, the original 1929 film had become illegal to view or exhibit in the United States due to its Pre-Code content which included sexual innuendo, lewd suggestive humor and open discussion of themes such as homosexuality.   Well,Well !  I would dearly love to see a copy of that first movie just to see what I’ve been missing out on.

Dennis Morgan starred in the 1943  movie version which had the Red Shadow fighting the Nazis and now being call El Khobar instead of the Red Shadow.  And in 1953 there was a  “cleaned-up” version starring Gordon McRae and Kathryn Grayson , here singing The Desert Song.

 

In 1955 there was a live performance on TV  with Nelson Eddy of movies fame, in the lead role, the only time he performed a live role, here singing One Alone.

 

Barry Humphries once asked the second Melbourne Red Shadow, Max Oldaker,   how he managed to smile so sincerely at the curtain call on a thin Wednesday matinee. Humphries recorded: ‘He said, “Dear Barry, it’s an old trick Noel taught me, and it never fails.” He demonstrated, standing in the middle of the dressing room in his Turkish towelling gown, eyes sparkling, teeth bared in a dazzling smile. “Sillycunts,” beamed Max through clenched teeth, bowing to the imaginary stalls. “Sillycunts,” again, to the circle, the gods and the royal box. “It looks far more genuine than ‘cheese’, dear boy,” said Max, “and you’ve just got to hope that no one in the stalls can lip read.” I couldn’t help thinking of all my mother’s friends at those Melbourne matinees, their palms moist, hearts palpitating as Max Oldaker, the Last of the Matinee Idols, flashed them all his valedictory smile.’

What would we do without a little bit of nostalgia in our lives.

Sepia Saturday

Pianists from the Past

2014.01W.25I have been acquainted with many different pianos over the years but few of them have made their way into a photograph such as we have for this week”s theme.

It was part of the life of many a girl to learn how to tinkle the ivories, to play a pretty tune, to accompany  a singalong around the piano,  to be able to play a waltz or a barn dance for a bit of dancing, and once even to sit on a stage at a grand piano to accompany a school choir.

But the earliest photo I have was taken in the beer garden at the old pub at Porepunkah in 1953. It was called the beer garden but it was simply a ramshackle lean-to at the back of a quaint old pub.

Porpunkah Hotel Beer Garden 2. Jan 1953I have mentioned Porepunkah before in  Honeymoon in he Snow – 1929    as it is where you branch off from the valley road to go up the mountain to the Mount Buffalo Chalet.  This Ovens Valley was a great place for growing tobacco until recently  Because the Chalet was “dry” guests would often wander down to the Porepunkah Pub for a bit of variety.

Later a young one started to take an interest in the piano

Sally at piano 8 monthsThis piano is rather special as it had belonged to a family whose only son was a talented pianist.  But he died of polio at age 17.  When it became clear that the family could no longer bear to have his piano in the house we were lucky enough to buy it.

The young one later learned to play.

Sally at pianoShe later  put it to good use

Lachlan Rod Sally Diane sing-songBut nowadays none of us go anywhere near a piano.

And with a little hesitation I add this newspaper cutting c1952 from the Castlemaine Mail.

Fire Brigade DanceStudents will do anything to earn some money and all you needed was  to be able to  keep a good regular beat. Good on our fire brigades.  I turned on the news at 7 am this morning to hear that a grass fire was under way about 5 km from here on the outskirts of town.  It was soon brought under control  by men with 17 fire trucks .  The section of our Country Fire Authority which deals with these fires are volunteers and we can’t praise them highly enough. At the moment the idea is to tie a red balloon to your fence or tree or car  to show that you appreciate what our volunteers are doing for us.

red balloon 2I’ve wandered off topic.  But our volunteers needed to raise money and Saturday night dances (with a piano being played) used to be one way of doing that.