Great name in music not lost with time
The life of a great man in the history of the University of Adelaide - and of Australian music - Professor E. Harold Davies, has been revealed in a book written by one of his former students.
More Than A Musician, by Dr Doreen Bridges, is a tribute to Professor Davies, who was Elder Professor of Music and Director of the Elder Conservatorium from 1919 until his death in 1947. Dr Bridges (nee Jacobs) is one of the few surviving alumni who studied with him.
The Friends of the University of Adelaide Library recently hosted a discussion by Dr Bridges about her book with the current Elder Professor of Music and Director of the Conservatorium, Professor Charles Bodman Rae.
Dr Bridges discussed how she had been able to explore the many facets of Professor Davies's life and work thanks to Davies's youngest daughter, Mrs Catharine Mary Cheesman, who had her father's papers.
Although musically conservative, Professor Davies was considered an outstanding teacher and lecturer. His association with the University began in 1883 when he enrolled in the Bachelor of Music degree. After becoming only the second graduate in Music, he requested that the University prepare regulations for the degree of Doctor in Music, and in 1902 was the first to obtain this degree from an Australian university.
When the Faculty of Music was created in 1906, Davies was appointed a member, even though he was not then a University teacher. He was also a member of the University's Music Examination Board and later of the Australian Music Examinations Board. Davies revitalised the Elder Conservatorium following World War I when he became Elder Professor of Music in 1919.
One of Davies's many interests was radio broadcasting. In 1925, before the advent of the ABC, he was a member of the University Council's three-person subcommittee on broadcasting. He arranged fortnightly music broadcasts from Elder Hall which he compered. Subsequently, Davies became a regular ABC broadcaster, discussing not only music but also philosophical, ethical and social subjects.
From 1927-30 he was a member of the University Anthropological Society and accompanied his scientific colleagues to Central Australia and Eyre Peninsula to conduct Aboriginal studies. His task was to record Aboriginal songs, and the field notebooks and papers that he published were to reveal him as an Australian pioneer in ethnomusicology. He was elected a member of the Royal Society of SA for his work.
More Than A Musician is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing and sells for a recommended retail price of $34.95, plus postage and handling.