Fritz Hart, In memoriam Dame Nellie Melba

For three female voices, 1931
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA011
ISBN 978-0-9923957-0-4 / ISMN 979-0-9009643-0-4

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Fritz Hart was part of the extraordinary diaspora of British composers who, attracted to the various Dominions and colonies of the then British Empire, disseminated the influence of their British musical tradition and the fashionable Celtic revival to many parts of the world. Hart’s contribution to music in Australia, and later Hawaii, is remarkable, and he distinguished himself as a composer, teacher and mentor as well as a conductor and writer. With the exception of Charles Edward Horsley, he was the finest orchestrator to work in Australia before 1930, and his musical influence in this country lasted for a considerable time, especially through his students, including Margaret Sutherland and Peggy Glanville-Hicks. Both as teacher and mentor, he was especially encouraging to female composers.

Born in Brockley, Kent in 1874, Fritz Hart was a chorister at Westminster Abbey and studied at the Royal College of Music, where he formed lifelong friendships with Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Granville Bantock. He migrated to Australia in 1909 and for many years was Director of the Albert Street Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne, in succession to G.W.L. Marshall-Hall. Renamed the Melba Conservatorium of Music, Dame Nellie Melba became one of his greatest champions. He was also a joint founder, with Alfred Hill, of the Australian Opera League. In 1937 he permanently relocated to Honolulu, where he conducted the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. After his death in Hawaii in 1949, all of his scores were returned to Melbourne, where they are held in the Latrobe Library of the State Library of Victoria.

This short and extremely beautiful work for three female voices was written for the memorial service held at the grave of Dame Nellie Melba at Lilydale cemetery in March 1931. The manuscript of the ‘In Memoriam’ is held in the State Library of Victoria, Latrobe Library, LaTL 9528/1. There are no editorial notes.