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Music Research


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Music Making in Newcastle, NSW, and its townships from early settlement

Musical activities were evident in Newcastle and the Hunter from early days, although sources are very limited until the first local newspaper, the Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser was established in 1843. With the publishing of this newspaper, we find evidence for musical activity reflected in advertisements for the “Philharmonic Society, Newcastle”. It appears that the society was active from 1845. Since there were as yet no purpose-built venues, their concerts were held in the Courthouse. This was most likely the building on the corner of Bolton and Hunter streets, listed as erected in 1839 by John Bingle, alongside which was later built an Exchange and Post Office. Reviews from this period are very brief, limited to a short comment on the gentility of the audience or the success of the concerts. One review in 1846 refers to “the progress of the gentlemen”, suggesting that the committee and performers were limited to gentlemen only. Another review comments on “frequent cheering, plaudits and encores,” and that “all the beauty and fashion of Newcastle” was present. The last mention of the society in the newspapers in this decade was in 1846.

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