Elizabeth Bay House – More collections uncovered at NSW State Library

I am approaching the end of my trip, but that doesn’t mean work is letting up! Oh no, quite the opposite. I knew when I came out here that my final days would be jam packed with presentations and singing but what I hadn’t quite accounted for was other opportunities presenting themselves that are very hard to pass up!


So the day began with a jaunt out to Elizabeth Bay House, a beautiful colonial home only 10 minutes walk from King’s Cross Station. I filmed a vlog while I was there, which I will be uploading very soon to my YouTube channel. This amazing house will be the setting for Sound Heritage Sydney! But for today I got to rehearse with Katrina Faulds for the upcoming concerts on Monday and Tuesday next week. I walked around the house as Katrina rehearsed on the piano at the bottom of the floating spiral staircase and I could hear the music in every room, which tells me it must have been designed so that musicians could play in that area and bring the whole house to life. Even singing in this spot is effortless and the sound simply floats up the stairs to the ceiling, reverberating in the oval hallway.


After this trip it was back to city centre and off to explore something very exciting indeed. An uncatalogued collection of music once owned by the Murray’s of Warrawang (originally from Dumfries) has turned up at the NSW State Library. Professor Ian Jack kindly gave me the catalogue and I knew from a quick glance that this was  something I just had to see for myself and what has turned up is more than I could have ever imagined!

Books upon books of handwritten early 19th-century manuscripts all carefully named and dated. There is quite clearly 3 collections of music owned by Julia Murray, Minna (or Wilhelmina) Murray and Lynn Gardham. I have only had time to take photographs of everything I think will be helpful in developing another project and providing further context for this one, but even in the short time I have spent with the collection it is quite obvious there are many stories it will uncover.

In addition to the music, there are pages of letters and diaries, all of which hint at life in a relatively new colony. One such letter, is a series of verses written by a person who is clearly nervous about leaving their bonny homeland.New Doc 2017-03-24_431.jpg

I am immediately drawn to Julia, as her collections seem to date from her youth and I see her juvenile hand develop into an enthusiastic and creative artist in all respects. I even came across a small sketch book with beautiful drawings of birds and scenery. The notebook is so small, I wonder how she was able to be so detailed especially when I know she would have been drawing by sun or candle light. I am not going to post these images yet, until I have had a more thorough look at what there is but I am pleased that Sydney is still turning up many more Scottish collections that are telling me more about travel, immigration and music at a time of great movement and change.

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