Arthur Streeton, Professor Marshall-Hall (1892) - National Gallery of Victoria
By the time of his appointment as first Ormond Professor of Music at the University of Melbourne in 1891 the English composer G.W.L. Marshall-Hall (1862–1915) had composed three operas, orchestral works and numerous songs. In 1901 a well-known English critic ranked him as a greater composer than Delius, Elgar, Granville Bantock and Hamish MacCunn, calling him “by far the most impressive personality.” By then Australian musicians had discovered that he was also one of the finest conductors of his time. In Melbourne he conducted the Marshall-Hall Orchestra for the twenty years of its existence, from 1892 to 1912, established two conservatoriums and composed another two operas, numerous picturesque orchestral works including two symphonies, as well as string quartets and other chamber works, and incidental music to local dramatic productions.
Highlights of his career include the performance of his overture Giordano Bruno (dedicated to Arthur Streeton) in London at the Crystal Palace Concerts in 1893, the enormous success of his incidental music to the Trinity College production of Alcestis in Melbourne in 1898, the performance at the London Proms of his Symphony in E flat in 1907 and the production in Melbourne of his “ultra-modern” Australian opera Stella in 1912. In person Marshall-Hall was a “firebrand and an iconoclast,” whose public lectures and lascivious poetry offended many. Amid great public controversy, in 1900 his term as Ormond professor was not renewed and in the following year he established the Melba Conservatorium. In 1913 he left Australia for London, hoping for productions of his operas Stella and Romeo and Juliet. But after a disappointing version of Stella was done at the Palladium and with the onset of war Marshall-Hall’s hopes for the future of his music were dashed. Coincidentally in 1914 the incumbent Ormond professor died and a consortium of Melbourne friends including Alfred Deakin ensured that he was reappointed. Marshall-Hall returned to Melbourne in 1915 but died suddenly a few months later.
This site is currently under development and will eventually become a respository for information about G.W.L. Marshall-Hall, his musical and literary works, archival holdings of those works, and their performance history both in Britain and Australia. Samples of manuscript and published scores will be available, where possible, as well as audio samples of scores recorded and/or digitised. This collection aims to provide resources both for scholars and performers interested in Federation-era music by Australian composers and in the cultural history of Melbourne in particular.
This website has been developed with the assistance of a Scholarly Information Innovation Grant from the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne, and by support from the Marshall-Hall Trust and the Grainger Museum. The records of the catalogue of the works of Marshall-Hall in the Grainger Musuem are taken from Thérèse Radic, G.W.L. Marshall-Hall: A Biography and Catalogue (Marshall-Hall Trust, 2002) and are used by permission. Reproductions of scores in the museum are used by permission. Synthesised audio excerpts have been supplied by Richard Divall.