Interpreting musical history in New South Wales

Sydney Living Museums cares for seven historic house museums in New South Wales – each with numerous musical stories to tell.  While knowing how to interpret these properties musically may not always be obvious, the combination of social, genealogical, musicological, instrumental, architectural and performance research can often lead to rich visitor experiences through music. Sydney Living Museums not only develops its own musical interpretation in its historic houses but works closely with academic institutions, performers and researchers from a variety of disciplines to develop a deeper understanding of the world of domestic music making in New South Wales.

More information on the individual films in the gallery below.

'Sweet Noise: Making Music at Vaucluse House’
'Colonial Caledonian: Researching early Scottish music at SLM'

'Sweet Noise: Making Music at Vaucluse House’
This video documents the musical preparation for a major public event at Vaucluse House with Dr Matthew Stephens, research librarian at Sydney Living Museums, Ron Overs, piano technician, and James Doig, pianist. Matthew talks about how and why he selected two Australian piano pieces from the 1850s, ‘The City of Sydney Polka’ and ‘Australian Flowers’, while Ron demonstrates his conservation technique on an 1860s Collard & Collard grand piano, and James discusses and performs the two pieces on the newly restored piano as he prepares for the performance.  

Further Reading: Making music in historic houses

Colonial Caledonian: Researching early Scottish music at SLM
In March 2017, Dr Brianna Robertson-Kirkland received funding from the University of Glasgow’s Ross Fund, which offers researchers the opportunity to examine materials held outside Scotland that relate to the history of Scotland, the Scottish people and their influences abroad. The month-long exploratory survey focused on the Stewart Symonds Sheet Music Collection, recently acquired by the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, which contains some of the earliest surviving examples of Scottish sheet music brought to Australia in the 19th century. Brianna’s visit has enabled SLM to look more deeply at its Scottish sheet music collections and explore new ways this material can be shared further afield through digitisation and performance within its historic house museums.