Submitted by jays on 28 January 2014 - 9:45pm

This is a tale of a bird that lost its song. It was on 23 October 1855 when English actress and singer, Emma Waller, stood on the stage of Sydney’s Royal Theatre and performed ‘The Bird Song’. It was a new Australian composition and was the work of bassoonist, composer and entrepreneur John Winterbottom (1817-1897) Copies of the song were advertised for sale in the local press to coincide with Mrs Waller’s performance. It was probably around this time that a copy of the song was given to teenager Mary Throsby (1838-1914) of Throsby Park, Moss Vale. The sheet music was later bound into a songbook belonging to Mary’s sister, Isabel (1844-1901) - probably in the early 1860s - and then forgotten. This piece of early Australian sheet music, recently rediscovered at Throsby Park, is the only known copy of ‘The Bird Song’ to have survived. 

Photograph: Jamie North, 2013
Front cover of sheet music, 'The Bird Song', composed by John Winterbottom, published 1855 Sheet music, 'The Bird Song', composed by John Winterbottom, page 1, published 1855 Front cover of sheet music, 'The Bird Song', composed by John Winterbottom, published 1855
Portrait
Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection
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Isabel Throsby’s Songbook