Music in the Home
Detail of plate from Rudolph Ackermann's 'The repository of arts, literature, fashions &c', December 1824,  Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums.

Victorian Sheet Music

Locally published sheet music began to appear in Sydney music stores in the late 1830s. By the 1850s the trickle had become a flood and Australian compositions, as well as Australian editions of British and American hits, sat side by side with their imported counterparts in the homes of music makers in Sydney and the country.

This collection of songs belonged to Isabel Throsby (1844–1901) of Throsby Park, Moss Vale. A number were sung by Isabel while studying at the Australian Ladies College, Sydney. The pieces were bound together at the time of Isabel’s marriage to Alick Osborne and her move to their home in Kangaroo Valley in 1861.

Miss Throsby sheet music

Volume of sheet music bound by Isabel Martha Throsby (1844-1901) of Throsby Park. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums.

The pieces below come from a bound volume of sheet music that was also located at Throsby Park and appears to have belonged to Miss Elizabeth Gittins (1834-1932), governess to the children of the house, between the mid-1880s and early 1900s. These publications were collected in Sydney soon after the arrival of Elizabeth and her family from the north of England in 1852.

Merchandising music

Ackermann music plates

Fashion plates from Rudolph Ackermann's ' 'The repository of arts, literature, fashions &c', depicting a woman holding a harp lute (left, April 1819) and a woman standing at a piano (right, December 1824). Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums.

From the earliest decades of the nineteenth century, musical instruments and publications were promoted in periodicals sent to Australia. The range of instruments available to Sydneysiders through local retailers also grew over the century and department store catalogues reveal a cornucopia of musical temptations by the early 1900s.

Feldheim, Gotthelf & Co. [trade catalogue], circa 1905

Title page of trade catalogue produced in 1905 by Feldheim, Gotthelf & Co., listing pianos, organs, and musical instruments amongst the items for sale. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums.

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