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

Elizabeth Bay House music

Sound Heritage

Symposium Report by Clare GleesonTuesday 2 May 2017

Clare Gleeson from Victoria University of Wellington takes her interest in sound heritage across the Tasman


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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