Thérèse Radic at 80: A Celebration

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Kay Dreyfus and Kerry Murphy on stage with Thérèse Radic

The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and the Victorian Chapter of the Musicological Society of Australia co-sponsored the launch and celebration of the Thérèse Radic Festschrift, which appears as a dedicated issue of Musicology Australia.  The launch was held in the School of Music on Friday, December 11, 2015.  Co-editors Kay Dreyfus and Kerry Murphy spoke warmly of the dedicatee’s academic achievements, and a letter of support from Barry Jones was also read out to the gathering. Violinist Ivana Tomaskova and pianist Tamara Smolyar performed a movement from Frederick Kelly’s Sonata for Violin and Piano. A fitting tribute in light of Thérèse Radic’s ground breaking work on that composer.

The following transcriptions are of speeches made during the celebration by Kay Dreyfus, Kerry Murphy, Dr Barry Jones and Thérèse Radic.

Kay Dreyfus: Tribute to Thérèse Radic 
My main task this evening is to say a few words about the book and to say some thank you’s, which I do on behalf of Kerry and myself. We would like to thank John Griffiths, the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, and the Victorian Chapter of the MSA for hosting the event. We would like to thank Joel Crotty for organising the event, coordinating everything, arranging refreshments, and introducing the musicians. Thank you to Tamara (Smolyar) and Ivana (Tomaskova) for their beautiful performance this evening. Our thanks to Mark Carroll and the editorial committee of Musicology Australia  for giving Kerry and me the opportunity to guest edit this special issue of the journal as a Festschrift tribute to Terry.

An unkind commentator once said that a Festschrift frequently serves as a convenient resting place for articles that their authors have been unable to publish elsewhere. I can assure you that this is not the case with this volume. The contributions for this tribute have been specially written and rigorously reviewed, as this is a refereed journal. So we would like to thank the contributors, for their support of the project from the beginning, for the time and effort they invested in writing their articles and accommodating the requirements of the reviewers, and for their mostly cheerful acceptance of the deadlines and other restrictions we imposed on them.

Most of the contributors have some kind of personal connection to Terry or have benefited from her scholarship or from information shared and her good counsel – all freely and graciously given. And most have taken care to make their essays relate to Terry’s scholarly interests and contributions in some way. Liz Wood and Terry supported each other as graduate students in the then not so fashionable field of Australian music studies in the mid- 1970s. Sue Robinson and Graeme Smith have both co-edited books with Terry. John Whiteoak and Aline Scott-Maxwell edited the Currency Companion Music and Dance in Australia, one of a number of important national and international reference works to which Terry has contributed over several decades. John was himself a participant in the ground-breaking Australian Women Composer’s conference that Terry organised in 1994. Joel Crotty was a foundation member of the course in Australian music studies that Terry and I co-taught at Monash for the first time in 1989. That course is still going in this School and Joel is now its custodian. John Rickard devised something he has called the Melba test for measuring how Australian historians have engaged with music in their short histories of Australia. Terry, as you have heard, has not only written a biography of Melba, but also a very successful play.

My friendship with Terry goes back several decades to the late 1960s, almost but not quite fifty years. I still remember our first telephone conversation quite vividly, but don’t remember the date. I have no doubt that Terry will have that safely recorded in her diary.

Over those not quite fifty years I have drunk hundreds of cups of tea with Terry, and with Len in more recent years. Not counting my once every ten years birthday parties, Terry has been to my house for afternoon tea once, or perhaps twice. Not because I am not hospitable, but because she doesn’t drive. 

Mind you, Terry sets a very high standard for the service of afternoon tea. We always have the best, antique, blue and white bone china tea cups, cloth napkins and cake forks. The cake is first class and the biscuits of premium quality. I’ve tried to tell Terry that I don’t need all that fuss, but she is adamant. As far as afternoon tea is concerned, Terry upholds the standards of Empire.

We also worked together at the Grainger Museum where Terry helped me understand and document the treasures of the Marshall-Hall collection. I only managed to publish the biographical half of Terry’s study, but I am glad that in more recent times the University of Melbourne library has published her catalogue, a project she worked on with Peter Campbell, another contributor to this volume.

According to the Wikipedia article on Festschriften – and this journal is a Festschrift – these volumes are typically published on the occasion of the honoree’s retirement, which in Germany, where the term originates, would mean for the person’s 60th or 65th birthday. Well Terry, I have to apologise that we seem to be running a bit late for those birthdays, and we are certainly not encouraging you to retire.

We seem to be running late in another way too. Despite our best efforts, our relentless insistence on deadlines for our authors and my determined pursuit of the long-suffering production editor at Taylor and Francis, the publishers, the publication is still not quite ready. For a while it looked as if, in Joel’s words, we might be presenting Terry with the concept rather than an actual book. But we have managed to produce this special presentation volume, which is the ‘almost final’ form of the book, and which we have dedicated to Terry as a collective token of our affection, gratitude and respect. I am just hoping that the small imperfections that remain will add value to the book over time, like they do to postage stamps. 

Finally, I’d like to thank you all for coming this evening especially those of our Melbourne University colleagues who have managed to cross the Yarra, brave the appalling traffic and make it safely to Monash. Terry is, as Kerry has told you, in fact a senior research fellow in the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music but she has had a meaningful association with Monash as well. As the table of contents includes authors from both institutions, so we offer this tribute as a model of harmonious cross-institutional collaboration. Those of you who were paying attention to Prime Minister Turnbull’s innovation statement will know that collaboration is one the four key pillars of current research strategy. So there you go, we are right on the cutting edge.

Graeme Smith, Thérèse Radic, Mimi Colligan and Margaret Kartomi

Kerry Murphy: Tribute to Thérèse Radic
While I was writing up my PhD I was fortunate enough to get some casual work at the Grainger Museum.  The Museum used to get many phone calls, which although related to Australian Music were totally unrelated to Grainger and I was unable to answer them—my personal knowledge of Australian music being fairly basic then. So I would take down names and tell people I would call them back.  When I asked Kay Dreyfus, then Curator of the Museum, where to go—she would say—oh, give Terry Radic a quick ring, she’ll know.  With some trepidation, I would ring Terry and indeed she would always know the answers and provided them with great generosity and good humour.

Terry was in fact the reference book on Australian Music.  And her Masters and PhD theses on Music making in Australia from the 1830s to the First World War were the Bible for any one working on historical Australian music.  Still today, I direct any students wanting to work on Australian music to start with her theses and time and time again I revisit them myself.

For those of us blessed today with search engines such as Trove it is hard to imagine what it must have been like researching Australian music history in the 1970s. First of all no one was interested in Australian music, and then most of the archival material was not catalogued. Liz Woods’s contribution to our volume describes vividly how notes were taken on alphabetical Index cards and then typed up back home.

It was meticulous and wide-reaching scholarship, however, which has provided us with a wonderful foundation. When in the early 2000s a group of staff and students at the University of Melbourne (then Faculty of Music) started work on a publication project to do with the Liedertafel collections at the Grainger Museum, Terry provided the keystone article for the collection and also acted as mentor for us all, sharing her knowledge, and pointing us in the right direction.  Without this help it would have been so much more difficult.  Terry is an honoured honorary senior research fellow at Melbourne University—her home university, and has been an essential part of our Australian music studies section; she has supervised students, marked theses, attended, chaired and presented at conferences, and served on editorial boards. 

In her scholarship Terry has written books and articles on seminal figures in our history such as Marshall-Hall, Percy Grainger, Bernard Heinze and Nellie Melba.  She has also written plays on both Grainger and Melba and her research on all these figures is pathbreaking. She has written 100s of significant reference articles, for the Australian Dictionary of Biography, and the various Grove Dictionaries.  Indeed she fought to have Australia included in the Grove Dictionary of Music.  For other more general reference texts, such as the Stanley Sadie’s History of Opera, she contributed the chapter on “Australia” and for the Penguin Australian Encyclopedia, the chapter on “Music in Australia”. And on top of all this she is also a creative writer, an acclaimed playwright  and as some of us know, a wonderful photographer.

Historian Jim Davidson once commented to me on the significant number of historians of Australian history who were independent scholars.  I think the same can be said about historians of Australian Music.  And perhaps, in some cases these scholars are stronger and more fearless because of their independent status.  Terry certainly has always been a fierce champion of Australian music and of female artists: scholars, composers and playwrights.  She has advocated her passions on the many Boards and Councils on which she has served such as the Arts Council and the Ministry of the  Arts.

It has been a privilege working on this volume with Kay Dreyfus, to honour Terry’s extraordinary achievements.  On a more personal note, Terry has indeed been a mentor to me, and to many others, not only in Australian music studies, but also as a female scholar.  As already stated, she has always been a strong, indeed feisty advocate and supporter of female achievements.  I have to say this was not something that I had encountered in my undergraduate degree at Melbourne and I have always been grateful to the encouragement and support I got from Terry and also Kay Dreyfus.     

I hope that those of us working in Australian studies today can continue to uphold the high standards of both scholarship and generosity that have been set by Thérèse Radic.

Hon Dr Barry Jones AC: for Thérèse Radic on her 80th birthday

Dear Terry and friends,

I am sorry to be an absentee from the celebration of your birthday but we will be at the ACO Festival at Vasse Felix, in the Margaret River area. Your role as a musicologist, historian, biographer, editor, researcher, playwright and advocate has been extraordinary – more than that, inspiring. You have adorned everything that you have worked on.

I enjoyed the period when we worked on the papers of Sir Bernard Heinze, which led to your outstanding biography (1986), for which I wrote the Foreword. Your edition of the diaries of F S Kelly:  Race Against Time (2004) is exemplary. 

The Melba biography The Voice of Australia (1986) puts the diva in her historical and  social context. Your plays A Whip Round for Percy Grainger (1984) and Peach Melba (1990) are both hilarious and insightful. You bring deep knowledge, wry humour, tireless energy and stimulation to every project you have worked on.

Len has had a profound influence as well. 
I wish you happiness and many more productive years!

As ever,
Barry Jones

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Ivana Tomaskova (violin) and Tamara Smolyar (piano) perform the first movement of Feredrick S. Kelly’s ‘Gallipoli’ sonata (1915)

Thérèse Radic’s response 
I’d like to thank Musicology Australia, for enabling this event and for producing this special edition of the journal – which I have only just seen. I feel very honoured by it.

I want to thank Kerry Murphy and Kay Dreyfus for making this happen – no mean feat. I want to thank the contributors to the journal, – whom I am about to discover. I want to thank the performers, – Tamara Smolyar and Ivana Tomaskova – and the organisers. And of course, everyone here for coming, particularly my some-time colleagues and students, my family and friends. 

A very long time ago when this society was founded and analysis was the fashion, I protested to its president that I was no analyst and therefore not a musicologist. I was a music historian. I was informed in no uncertain terms that this was the oldest of the musicological disciplines and that I should wear the title with pride. And so I did. But I’ve always seen myself as an Australian music historian, a somewhat different fish. 

I was living with my family in London in 1963 when I discovered my four year old son was developing a north London accent. If we stayed he would morph into someone not quite English, not quite Australian. I didn’t like the society I found myself in. It had no place for me. I was a colonial. I decided I wanted my son – and us – to be Australians, whatever that might mean and I wasn’t at all sure at the time what an Australian was. I’m still not. 

Still, I wanted to be part of the discovery and the making of what was then seen as a new, raw, brash people. I saw a people unsure of its heritage and looking for definition and direction. It was casting off. I saw vigour and intent to recognize and incorporate a cultural heritage as old as the places we came from. Gregorian belonged to us. Shakespeare was ours. My French ancestor who went to the guillotine needed to be acknowledged as much as my convict origins and my descent from Jonathan Swift. 

The way I chose was not altogether compatible with the needs of a career in academe, even when the prejudice against women academics began to fade. Grants, yes, jobs no. Part-time at best. But by then I was off exploring the origins and frontiers of music usage here and not listening to perhaps wiser voices. I embraced the theatre along with my husband and wore two hats rather than the more usual one, both of them slouch. And here I am, still writing, still elbowing for room, still rescuing the long lost composer, still trying to reconstruct our past and make something new out of it. What I would like is for you, here, to make something of it too. 

Thank you again. All of you.