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The Musical Heritage of Clare

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

Clare's Musicians

R.H. Tilbrook, writing for the Northern Argus in 1928 for "Back to Clare", wrote that

Clare has produced two very fine pianists: Mr William Silver and Mr Brewster-Jones:

Both Mr. William Silver and Mr. Brewster-Jones were nominated to the Committee organising the 'Back to Clare' event, as reported on 21 June, 1928.

William Silver was a leading Adelaide pianist,

and teacher in the Elder Conservatorium from 1919 to 1947. The Elder Conservatorium is the oldest tertiary music school in Australia and widely respected as one of the country’s leading music institutions.

  • As early as 1902, William Silver was a pianist at an entertainment, which was held in the Clare Town Hall in aid of the Queen's Home.

  • Mr. William Silver, was well known to the public as a brilliant pianist, as well as being one of the most successful teachers of music, and was appointed to the University's Elder Conservatorium in 1919.

  • In 1965, the friends and pupils of the late William Silver paid to the University of Adelaide the sum of £1,600 for the purpose of founding a scholarship for piano to perpetuate the name of William Silver.

Miriam Hyde AO OBE (1913-2005), composer, recitalist, teacher, examiner, poet, lecturer and writer of numerous articles for music journals, studied first with her mother and then with William Silver.

1. Mr Silver is remembered for his most famous pupil, Dr Miriam Hyde, who was born in Adelaide in 1913 where she began studies in piano at the Elder Conservatorium, University of Adelaide, under William Silver.

  • In 1931, she graduated with a Bachelor of Music and won the Elder Scholarship to London's Royal College of Music where she studied piano and composition and attained the ARCM and LRAM diplomas.

  • Returning to Adelaide in 1936, she wrote much of the incidental music for South Australia’s Centenary pageant, Heritage.

Frances (Francie) Solomon, who studied at the Elder Conservatorium c1924-31 with her sisters Ella and Betty, who also studied at the Conservatorium,

2. Another notable student was Frances (Francie) Solomon, who studied at the Elder Conservatorium c1924-1931 as a student of the cello under William Silver and Harold Parsons.

John Bishop’s years (1948-66) as Adelaide University’s Elder professor of music saw initiatives such as the university’s wind quintet and the Adelaide Festival of Arts (as inaugural artistic director).

3. Still another notable student was John Bishop, born Lionel Albert Jack Bishop at Aldinga, South Australia, on 26th October 1903.

  • Educated at Aldinga Public School and Adelaide High School, Bishop was a gifted musician from an early age.

  • He became a pupil of William Silver and in 1919 began studies at the Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide.

  • Two years later he toured with Silver in Europe and the United States, and in 1922 won an Elder Scholarship to the Royal College of Music, London.

    • Bishop returned to Adelaide in 1948 as the Elder Professor of Music and Director of the Elder Conservatorium. He introduced new courses in orchestral playing, an honours degree and a comprehensive library.

Mr. Brewster Jones was the leading Australian composer of the day

Hooper Brewster Jones (1887-1949) was a man who had a passion not only for music but for plain speaking.

  • Jones was born on 28th June 1887 at Black Rock Plains, South Australia, a hamlet where the roads to Peterborough, Jamestown and Orroroo connect.

  • He attended country schools at Armagh and Bute where his father, schoolmaster William Arthur Jones, taught him music until the age of thirteen, when he left home to board in Adelaide.

  • Lucy Webb reported that he was so very small that corks had to be attached to his fingers to enable him to strike the keys. (Read more: Lucy Webb's Diary)

    • His Father Jones was some-what of an eccentric, and used to ride into Clare every day for the daily paper, and did chess problems on the back of his horse, who appeared to know which way to take his master.

    • The Jones family at one time were the choir of St. Barnabas' Church, Edie sang soprano, her mother alto, Freddie tenor and Mr. Jones bass.

    • Mr. Jones used to get agitated during the service and passed little notes along "not so loud Freddie" "keep your breath for that high note Edie" and so on. A kind-ly loveable but eccentric man was our Mr. Jones.

As a child Brewster-Jones was somewhat of a prodigy, startling his examiners by passing his first sol-fa examination at the age of four and giving a recital on the Adelaide Town Hall organ at just seven.

“Bute Choral Society … Entertainment in aid of the Local Cricket Club on Friday Nov. 20 1896 in the Willamulka Schoolroom. Overture by Master Brewster and Miss Rebee Jones.”

  • He was the son of William Jones and his wife Rebecca (née Williams).

  • In 1901 Hooper won a three year scholarship at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide.

  • Three years later he was described as ‘the most promising student who ever entered the Conservatorium’.

He was nineteen when he won the Elder Scholarship, which gave him three years tuition at the Royal College of Music, London, where he studied piano, singing, chamber music and composition.

He returned to Adelaide in 1909 to teach piano, composition and singing.[1]

  • He provided a recital at the town hall in November, and The Advertiser's critic opined, "The young pianist proved quite equal to the demands of the difficult composition, and his interpretation was decidedly effective.

  • Certainly the outburst of applause which followed was well earned, and it is not too much to say that the artist demonstrated that he is qualified to take his place amongst the first rank pianists of Australia."

His symphonic poem Australia Felix, 'thoroughly professional' programme music, has been played throughout Australia by Australian Broadcasting Commission orchestras.

  • An Adelaide Symphony Orchestra performance, with Georg Tintner, conductor, it is now an ABC Classic FM recording, (broadcast 2012)

In July 1915 he conducted his first orchestral concert and later, at his own expense, he formed the Brewster-Jones Symphony Orchestra, South Australia's only symphony orchestra working during WWI, which by 1920 numbered seventy players.

  • He worked with the ABC as a pianist and a lecturer on radio.

  • Read an interview about his musical composition in 1917, conducted at his studio at 51a Rundle Street, while he was working on a musical drama 'Deirdre', a well-known Irish love story.


The results of the scholarships offered by Mr. H. Brewster-Jones for 1922 are:—

  • Mrs. Wholohas. composition scholarship (winners), Misses Dorothy Cowell and Gladys Bruce, equal; open composition (winner), Miss Dora Collett; M. J. C. Young and Mr. Alex Barnard, hon. mention.

  • Senior pianoforte (winners) Misses Mavis Brown and Eva Dalton, equal; Miss Mollie Paxton, hon. mention.

  • Junior Pianoforte (winners), Masters Ernest Tidemann and Patrick Mott, equal;

  • Singing, Miami Ethel Hodge and Joan Sanston, equal: Mr. Harold Campbell, hon. mention.

The adjudicators were Mr. and Mrs. Brewster-Jones.

  • The pianoforte scholarship held by Capt. Hugh King has been extended another year, owing to his excellent progress during 1921.



When Mr. Edwin Harris, the eminent Pianist, was in South Australia, he was very much impressed with the compositions of Mr. Brewster-Jones. He took a number away with him, and it must be gratifying to Mr. Brewster-Jones to know that his works are being performed by leading artists in some of the big cities of America.

In San Francisco: — To-day, the Brilliant Margo Hughes Trio performed H. Brewster-Jones' Trio 'Morceau.' They manifested the composer's deep sense of the genius of flute and bassoon.

  • It is original and poetic thinking, grateful to player and hearer alike.

  • Mr. Redfern Mason, who is recognised as one of America's leading musical critics said, 'I am very enthusiastic over the composition of Mr. Brewster-Jones. I have been privileged to hear some of his smaller works, which have impressed me.'

  • But on having heard this bigger number, he spoke fine things about the Australian Composer.

His creative output peaked in the 1920s with numerous original and experimental compositions for piano, chamber groups and orchestras.

His love of nature produced compositions of 73 piano miniatures of Bird Calls (many recorded on bush trips with Hans Heysen or at the Heysen property),

  • 22 Horse Rhythms and numerous Nature Preludes.

  • He was adventurous and produced “unacademic” works based on popular dances and nursery rhymes, and works for the stage such as the comic opera ‘The Belle of Cairo.’

Among the many Bird Call scores are several somewhat crudely printed lithographically.

  • Hans Heysen certainly had a small lithographic press he used to proof his plates (Hans Heysen: the creative journey / Julie Robinson. 1992.) Perhaps Brewster Jones printed some of his scores on Heysen’s press!

  • Nadia Penalurick, pianist and music critic, enjoyed the piano pieces and often played them and promoted his compositions. (Read more at the History Hub)

Brewster-Jones was also a music critic for the Adelaide Advertiser from 1935 to 1940, and later for the News.

  • He was a supporter of numerous musical competitions, adjudicator of many eisteddfods and was also an examiner for the Australian Music Board.

  • He was often described as a popular man, a gifted composer and solo pianist, whose outlook was based on classicism but who really was a pioneer of modernism.

From: "Australian Chamber Music with Piano"

By Larry Sitsky, ANU Press, published 2011, page ix:

Listen to Brewster Jones Bird Calls Performed by Larry Sitsky:

Mr. Brewster-Jones Returns

"Recently Mr. Brewster-Jones, the Adelaide composer and pianist, paid a visit to Melbourne, and his brilliant bird call impressions made a great hit amongst Victorian listeners. He will be heard again this week from 5CL.

  • On Tuesday his item will be "The Genesis of Music," and on Wednesday he will give the second of his novel recitals.

  • On the following night he will give a special atmospheric pianoforte presentation of his famous Australian bird call impressions, which have been composed by himself. "

Although retired by the 1940s, Brewster-Jones contributed to one last performance on the 8th July 1949, playing Mozart's d minor piano concerto with the Adelaide String Orchestra, conducted by his son Arthur. He died just fifteen minutes later from a heart attack, while walking up-stairs from the stage, his son still conducting the performance.

(Wikipedia) Upon his death, Hooper Brewster-Jones left behind his wife, two of three sons and a daughter. He is the grandfather of John and Rick Brewster, who are the founder members of hard rockers, the Angels. There is a plaque in his honour on the Jubilee 150 Walkway.


The Angels and the ASO:

A family affair that keeps no secrets

HOOPER Brewster Jones, the grandfather of The Angels founding members John and Rick Brewster, was a founding member of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Now the Brewsters and the ASO are coming together again. (Nathan Davies, 2 min read) April 28, 2018 - 9:00PM Sunday Mail (SA)

The Angels’ John Brewster, Sam Brewster and Dave Gleeson are teaming up with members of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Picture: Tom Huntley

  • WHEN John Brewster and The Angels step onto the stage with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra on July 28 they’ll be putting a full stop on a story almost 70 years in the telling.

  • The much-loved Aussie band will be presenting a performance of re-imagined Angels hits, but they’ll walk on stage to the ASO playing a piece of music written by John and brother Rick’s grandfather, Hooper Brewster Jones.

  • Brewster Jones was a concert pianist, musical prodigy, and one of the ASO’s founding members. He was immersed in classical music until, literally, the day he died.

With music running so strongly through the family’s veins it was only natural that the young Brewster brothers would also pick up instruments, although it’s probably fair to say that Hooper could have never imagined the sounds they would make.

  • “Rick learned classical piano and was very good at it, and I learned the cello at one stage but I ended up giving it away,” John said.

(Read more at the Advertiser)

Other Sources about Hooper Brewster-Jones:

Hooper Josse Brewster Jones (1887-1949)

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