Ernest Truman, String Quartet No. 2

(Somerset, 1869 – Sydney, 1948)
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA021
ISBN 978-0-9925672-0-0 / ISMN 979-0-9009642-0-5

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Ernest Edwin Philip Truman was born in Weston-Super-Mare in Somerset, England on 29 December 1869, the son of a game and fish dealer. Truman was brought to New Zealand when he was 5 years of age and studied in Dunedin under A. J. Bath, and from 1885 in Sydney with the German pianist Julius Buddee. It was probably this teacher who encouraged Truman to undertake study at the Royal Conservatorium in Leipzig, under the composer Karl Reinicke. He also studied piano, organ and four of his fellow students there included Alfred Hill, Ernest Hutcheson, Archie Fraser (later an early film director in Australia), and the novelist Henry Handel Richardson.

Graduating from Leipzig, Truman returned to Sydney and worked as an organist at St Mary’s Cathedral, Christ Church St. Lawrence and St Patrick’s on Church Hill. His skill on that instrument led to his appointment at the official organist to the City of Sydney in 1909, a position of some importance, that he held for a further twenty-six years, retiring in 1935. Truman married twice and died at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney on 6 October 1948.

As a composer, Truman’s music is generally unknown today. He was an assured composer and his works include a Mass written for St Mary’s Cathedral in 1899, a setting of the Magnificat as well as an operetta entitled Club Life, and a cantata – The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Several orchestral works have survived including a violin concerto, several violin sonatas and two string quartets, as well as organ works. This string quartet in F minor, his opus 26 was found in the papers of the Australian born violinist, Johann Secundus Kruse at The University of Melbourne, and later transferred to the National Library of Australia with other works by Australian composers.