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Book - The Centennial Cantata, Henry John King & Rev William Allen, Aug 1888 Document Reg. No: SH 961172

Musical score for the six-part Cantata composed for the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition in 1888, with words by Rev William Allen and music by Henry John King who was the organist and director of the choir of the Church of St. Mark Melbourne. The Cantata was performed by the Centennial Orchestra under the direction of Frederick Cowen at the opening ceremony of the Exhibition, and dedicated to the Governor of Victoria Henry Loch, !st Baron Loch. This edition contains the words and score as well as advertising for real estate agents and music shops.

The Centennial International Exhibition, held in the (Royal) Exhibition Building, opened on 1 August 1888 and closed at the end of January 1889. It celebrated 100 years of British settlement and surpassed the grand scale of the1880 Melbourne International Exhibition, attracting over two million visitors (approximately 69% of the colony's population at the time). The Exhibition had a distinctly imperial focus, and a greater emphasis on amusements (including music) than the 1880 Exhibition. A choir of 5000 sang music old and new, and a total of 500,000 people attended symphony concerts.

Assessment of the Cantata's musical merits were harsh, as this quote indicates: 'The much publicised cantata sung at the opening and repeated ad nauseum was described in the Age as 'trash', and if the music matched the words, which were 'commonplace and mediocre in the extreme', according to the Sydney Morning Herald, this would be a fair comment.' Parris, J & Shaw, AGL, 1980, 'The Melbourne International Exhibition 1880-1881', The Victorian Historical Journal, 51 (4): 246.
The soft covered booklet booklet of 94 pages has a buff front cover with black print. At the top is a finely drawn coat of arms, flanked on either side by a kangaroo and emu.
Acquisition Information:
Transfer from Trustees of the Royal Exhibition Building (REB), 1991
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 258 mm (Height), 179 mm (Width)

More information

Tagged with: exhibitions, music, royal exhibition building, world fairs, exhibitions melbourne international centennial 1888-1889, music scores
Themes this item is part of: Public Life & Institutions Collection, Royal Exhibition Building Collection
Primary Classification: PUBLIC EVENTS
Secondary Classification: Melbourne Centennial Exhibition 1888
Tertiary Classification: Music Books
Inscriptions: Front cover: CENTENNIAL CANTATA/Composed by/HENRY JOHN KING/ (WORDS BY REVD WM ALLEN)/FIRST PERFORMED/at the opening of the/CENTENNIAL INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION/Melbourne - August 1888/Regd Melbourne Price 2/6/ W H Glen & Co/21 & 23 COLLINS ST EAST. [Extensive text throughout]
Stamped in the upper RH in purple School or College books bought or exchanged. Cole's Book Arcade Secondhand Dept.
Composer: Mr Henry King, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1888
Author: Reverend William Allen, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1888
Publisher: W.H. Glen & Co., Melbourne, Central, Victoria, Australia, 1888
Place & Date of Event: Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1 Aug 1888 - 31 Jan 1889

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