Songs of Home

Songs of Home tells the little-known story of music played and enjoyed in NSW during the first 70 years of the colony.

This vibrant musical world is explored through recordings of early music, rare instruments, printed scores, and remarkable stories of people creating home through song. Step into grand houses, humble cottages, vast landscapes, pubs and churches, and discover the soundtrack of early Sydney.   

See and hear the earliest transcriptions of Aboriginal songs. Follow the story of Australia’s first piano as it made its way from Britain to Elizabeth Farm in Parramatta. Discover the story of the Murray family and their musical possessions, hauled by horse-drawn carriage over the Blue Mountains. On display for the first time in Australia are albums of music hand-copied by Jane Austen, revealing her musical tastes and practices, similar to those brought to Australia by immigrants in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Experience a diverse array of music, old and new, through performances by leading Australian and British musicians, as well as students at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. A series of specially commissioned contemporary works by Aboriginal composers, in partnership with the Ngarra-Burria First Peoples Composers initiative with support from the Royal Australian Navy Band, highlight the powerful and continuing presence of Aboriginal music making.

Surprising, moving, entertaining – the fascinating world of music in early NSW is revealed here for the first time as a place of melodious complexity.

10 August 2019 - 17 November 2019

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