Sound Heritage Sydney: Making Music in Historic Places

On the 28th of March 2017, an international forum of invited experts spent a day at Elizabeth Bay House sharing their knowledge about music making in historic houses.

Have you ever wondered about how music was made in the Australian homes of the past? What music was popular, who played it and how was it played? Having pondered these questions for some time, Sydney Living Museums and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music invited a range of experts from across Australia, the UK, and New Zealand to participate in a symposium at Elizabeth Bay House to explore the history of music making in the Australian home and its international contexts.

Sound Heritage Sydney brought together musicians, scholars and heritage practitioners to discuss what and how music was played in historic houses and at other historic sites. The forum was also interested in uncovering innovative ways music can be used to reveal new narratives in historic properties for contemporary visitors.

Symposium speakers and performers outside Elizabeth Bay House.  Photo (c) James Horan for Sydney Living Museums.

Sydney Living Museums is the Australian partner of the British-based Sound Heritage network, co-founded by Professor Jeanice Brooks, University of Southampton, and Jonathan Wainwright, University of York, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK). Launched in 2015, Sound Heritage is an international network that is seeking a richer understanding of how music functioned in the life of historic houses in the 18th and 19th centuries.  SLM is one of three international partners along with representatives from the US and Ireland who have participated with our British counterparts in a series of three study days in England. SLM was invited to join Sound Heritage in recognition of our contribution, led by the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, towards a better understanding of domestic music making in colonial NSW and further afield. 

​Symposium Videos and Abstracts



News from Sound Heritage Sydney

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Bel canto at Elizabeth Bay HouseThursday 30 August 2018

Sound Heritage

Sound Heritage Sydney Symposium ReportTuesday 2 May 2017

The University of Southampton's write up on the first Australian symposium on sound heritage

Man seated and woman standing above piano with window behind.

Sound Heritage

Sounding HeritageTuesday 2 May 2017

Music critic Harriet Cunningham shares her impressions of Sound Heritage Sydney

Symposium, 'Sound Heritage Sydney: Making Music in Historic Places' in the saloon, Elizabeth Bay House

Sound Heritage

Sound Heritage Down UnderTuesday 2 May 2017

Symposium report by Professor Jeanice Brooks, co-founder of the Sound Heritage Network 

Dr Katrina Faulds (piano) from Sound Heritage network, University of Southampton, and Dr Brianna Robertson-Kirkland (singer) from University of Glasgow, in the saloon at Elizabeth Bay House

Sound Heritage

Returning from the not-so-final frontierTuesday 2 May 2017

Visiting scholar Dr Brianna Robertson-Kirkland from the University of Glasgow recounts the highlights of her Sydney adventure

About the Author

Sydney Living Museums Image
Dr Matthew Stephens
Research Librarian
Collections and Access
Matthew Stephens is research librarian at the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection.  He is particularly fascinated by early book, musical instrument and sheet music collections in NSW and the stories they tell.

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