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University of Adelaide.  Elder Conservatorium.
Papers 1900-

MSS 0145

Historical Note

In its current form, the Elder Conservatorium of Music is a product of three mergers: in 1898 with the Adelaide College of Music; in 1991 with the School of Performing Arts of the then South Australian College of Advanced Education; and in 2001 with the School of Music of the Adelaide Institute of TAFE (aka Flinders Street School of Music).

In 1886, Professor Ives established the first Australian public music examinations system, modelled on that of the Guildhall School of Music in London. This directly led to the establishment of the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB). In 1898, through the Elder Conservatorium, the University of Adelaide was the first in Australia to establish regulations for the degree of Doctor of Music (DMus), and in 1902, Edward Harold Davies was awarded the first Australian doctorate of music. In 1918 the University became the first in Australia to award a doctorate in Music to a woman, Ruby Davy.

The Elder Conservatorium of Music was formally constituted in 1898 as the result of a major philanthropic bequest from the will of the Scottish-Australian pastoralist, Sir Thomas Elder. An earlier philanthropic donation from Sir Thomas Elder had helped to establish the Elder Professorship of Music in 1883, with the first incumbent taking up the post in 1884. At the same time, Sir Thomas Elder had established endowment funds in parallel for the Royal College of Music in London and the Music Board of the University of Adelaide to support the Elder Overseas Scholarship (in Music). 1883 was also the year in which the privately owned and run Adelaide College of Music was jointly established by Cecil Sharp (later to become famous as collector of folk songs) and the Leipzig-trained pianist, Gottfried Immanuel Reimann. For the first few years the new school of music at the University of Adelaide (which focussed on composition and theory) and the Adelaide College of Music (which focussed on practical training in performance) complemented each other before merging in 1898.

Contents Summary

These papers were first brought together when Conservatorium Library became part of the Barr Smith Library in 1982, with additional papers added by the Conservatorium over subsequent years. Photographs have been transferred to the University of Adelaide Archives.  Concert programs have been transferred from the former Elder Conservatorium papers series MSS 780.72 A228c.

3.5 m.

Contents Listing

Series 1 Concert programs, memorabilia etc 1900-

Series 2 Student assignments, compositions etc

Series 3 Music compositions, papers by staff

Series 4 Music manuscripts by others

Series 5 Other
“Review of the Elder Conservatorium of Music” / University of Adelaide (June 2012.
29 p. (computer printout)


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