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Book - 'The Centennial Cantata', Henry John King, 1888 Document Reg. No: SH 960200

Bound copy of the 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 copy was presented to Alberto Zelman by the book's publishers W H Glenn.

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.
Music book, black leather bound, 89 pages. Gold impressed double decorative border front and back cover. Blue marbled end papers, gold impressed title and gold edged pages.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 263 mm (Height), 178 mm (Width)

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Tagged with: exhibitions, music, royal exhibition building, exhibitions melbourne international centennial 1888-1889, music books
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: THE/ CENTENNIAL/ CANTATA/ BY/ Henry John King
Note inside front page, handwritten: Presented to Alberto Zelman one of the judges appointed by the Commissioners for selecting the Prize Cantata by W.H. Glenn C. the publishers of the same Melbourne 1st August 1888.
Presented To: Mr Alberto Zelman, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1888-1889
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
Printer: Fergusson & Mitchell, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1888
Place & Date of Event: Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1 Aug 1888 - 31 Jan 1889

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