Guide to the Papers of Fritz Bennicke Hart


MS 2809

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Fritz Bennicke Hart
Papers of Fritz Bennicke Hart
Date Range
1898 - 1951
Collection Number
MS 2809
1.13m metres (1 small folio box + 2 security binders + 5 archives boxes + 3 folders)
Language of Materials
Special Collections (Manuscripts)


Scope and Contents

The papers include correspondence, personal recollections, articles, lists of works, newspaper cuttings, programs, photographs, unpublished novels and manuscript scores. The bulk of the papers cover the period 1920 to 1936 when Fritz Hart lived and worked in Melbourne. There are many cuttings relating to his return to Australia from Honolulu in 1945 for Jubilee celebrations of the Albert Street Conservatorium.

Many of the correspondents, including Dame Nellie Melba, Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst and AE (George Russell), were prominent in literature and in music. The photographs of Hart are from all three stages of his life, in England, in Australia and in Honolulu. There are also photographs of many composers, including Percy Grainger, Richard Strauss, Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst.

All of Hart's unpublished novels are included in the collection. The music scores are for voice and piano accompaniment.

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Fritz Bennicke Hart, National Library of Australia, MS 2809, [series and/or file number]'.


The papers were donated to the Library by Mrs Marvell Hart between 1970 and 1980

Biographical Note

Fritz Hart, composer, conductor and teacher, played an important part in the early development of music in Australia. Born in Greenwich, England, on 11 February 1874, he was a chorister at Westminster Abbey before studying piano and organ at the Royal College of Music. His friends there included the composers Gustav Holst, Coleridge Taylor and William Thurlstone. He married Jessie Beattie in 1904 and they had a son, Basil. Two years after his wife died in 1935, he married Marvell Allison, an American.

Hart came to Australia in 1909 for a four-year engagement with J. C. Williamson as conductor of a Light Opera Company. It was 1936 before he left to become the first professor of music at the University of Hawaii and permanent conductor of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.

When Hart succeeded G.W. Marshall Hall as director of the Melbourne (Albert Street) Conservatorium of Music in 1914, Dame Nellie Melba established her school of singing there. Melba and her pupils shaped Hart's work as a composer. He composed operas, choral works and songs, and he also wrote for piano, violin, chamber groups and orchestra. In 1928 he was appointed conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He worked hard to bring music to the people, conducting the first Myer Free Symphony Concerts in Melbourne. He was highly regarded as a teacher, his pupils including Peggy Glanville-Hicks and Margaret Sutherland.

During the war he wrote twenty four novels, none of which were published. He also wrote verse, and Gustav Holst set some of it to music. He died in Honolulu on 9 July 1949.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Correspondence 1895-1951

The papers include individual folders of letters from Dame Nellie Melba, Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst, and two folders of correspondence from musicians and writers. Correspondents include AE (George Russell), Sir Hubert Parry, Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock), Angela Thirkell, Percy Grainger, Sir Granville Bantock and Thomas Dunhill. There are also typescript copies of extracts from letters to his wife, 1932-37, and some personal items.

Only one of the twenty-nine Melba letters to Hart is dated (1917). Included with the letters is one from Prime Minister W.M. Hughes to Melba (1922), and signed copies of programs for Melba's farewell appearances at Covent Garden and the Royal Albert Hall in 1926. There are nineteen letters and notes from Vaughan Williams.

Dame Nellie Melba (File 1) - Box 2, Security-Binder 1

Gustav Holst, 1922 - 1934 (File 2) - Box 2, Security-Binder 1

Vaughan Williams, 1936 - 1949 (File 3) - Box 2, Security-Binder 1

Correspondence, 1898 - 1925 (File 4) - Box 2, Security-Binder 1, Security-Binder 2

Correspondence, 1926 - 1951 (File 5) - Box 2, Security-Binder 2

Typescript extracts from Hart's letters to his wife, 1932 - 1937 (File 6) - Box 2

Typescript letters to Lucy, 1943-47, and Angela Thirkell, 1942; telegrams to Hart on his return to Australia in 1945; an admittance card to Windsor Castle for a performance by the Royal College of Music in 1895. (File 7) - Box 2, Security-Binder 2

Series 2. Other papers 1880-1975

Included here are programs, newspaper cuttings, photographs, lists of works, and articles by or about Hart, including personal recollections. There are biographical sketches, recollections of his years as chorister at Westminster Abbey, and an interview with Mrs Hart about her husband for the Music and Sound Recording Section of the National Library. A tribute to Fritz Hart from the Honolulu Symphony Society, and details of the Fritz Hart Foundation are included with the articles.

The newspaper cuttings include concert reviews, a biographical study of Hart in the Australian Musical News (1920), coverage of his return to Australia to participate in the Jubilee celebration of the Albert Street Conservatorium, and an obituary of AE in the Sunday Observer (1935).

Articles (File 8) - Box 2

Lists of compositions and novels (File 9) - Box 2

Newspaper cuttings, 1920-75 (File 10) - Box 2

Programs, 1927-72 (File 11) - Box 2

Photographs (n. d.) (File 12_14) - Box (Shared)

The photographs of Hart date from about 1880 to the 1940s. Included are photographs of several portraits of him, one by Max Meldrum. Also included are photographs of Percy Grainger, Dame Clara Butt, Fritz Kreisler, Richard Strauss, Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst and Coleridge Taylor.

Series 3. Novels 1939-46

Between 1939 and 1946 Hart wrote twenty four novels. None were published.

'Puck and Mr Perkins'(October 1939) (File 15) - Box 3

'Three ways of making love' (December 1939) (File 16_17) - Box 3

'Shreds and some patches' (March 1940) (File 18) - Box 3

'The toss of a coin' (July 1940) (File 19) - Box 3

'By the grace of Ted' (August 1940) (File 20) - Box 3

'The Anti-Mabelites' (October 1940) (File 21) - Box 3

'Alice and a scruple' (December 1940) (File 22) - Box 3

'Enquiries - strictly private' (May 1941) (File 23) - Box 4

'The enigma mystery' (July 1941) (File 24) - Box 4

'The burgeoning of Anderson' (August 1941) (File 25) - Box 4

'Sir Thomas in the background' (November 1941) (File 26_28) - Box 4

'Prelude in search of a fugue' (March 1942) (File 29_31) - Box 4

'James goes home to dinner' (May 1942) (File 32_34) - Box 5

'Miss Machiavelli' (August 1942) (File 35) - Box 5

'The unofficial aunt' (September 1942) (File 36) - Box 5

'A summer of Saint Martin' (December 1942) (File 37) - Box 5

'A necessary nuisance' (February 1943) (File 38) - Box 5

'Juliet goes to town' (April 1943) (File 39) - Box 5

'A pixy in pyjamas' (June 1943) (File 40) - Box 6

'Coda to a concert' (August 1943) (File 41) - Box 6

'The emergence of Mark' (September 1944) (File 42) - Box 6

'John and a loose end' (January 1945) (File 43) - Box 6

'A party in summer' (March 1945) (File 44) - Box 6

'A brazen little baggage' (January 1946) (File 45_47) - Box 6

Series 4. Sheet Music - List of manuscript scores for solo voice with piano accompaniment.

Words for the songs were written by Robert Herrick (folios 1-6, 11,12), Humbert Wolfe (folios 7, 8), William Blake (folio 9), Joseph Campbell (folio 13), W. E. (William Ernest) Henley (folio 8) and AE (George Russell) (folios 8, 10)

Opus 84 (File 1) - Folio 1

'To cherry blossoms'

'To Dianeme'

'I will no longer kiss'

'Shall I go to love and tell'

'To pansies'

'Let me sleep this night away'

'Upon a comely and curious maid'

'Frolic virgins once there were'

Opus 85 (File 2) - Folio 1

'Love sick I am'

'Upon Cupid'

'To the Willow tree'

Opus 86 (File 3) - Folio 1

'The shades grow great'

'The old wives' prayer'

'To flowers'

'The plunder'

Opus 88 (File 4) - Folio 1

'Spend harmless shade thy nightly hours'

'Fair shows deceive'

'Weep for the dead'

Opus 89 (File 5) - Folio 1

'Let us take time and play'

'The willow garland'

'The bride-cake'

'Gone she is a long long way'

Opus 90 (File 6) - Folio 1

'I'll to thee a simnel bring'


'The funeral rites of the rose'

'Hear ye virgins'

'Alpine chases'

'The lonely tree'

Opus 93 Ser III (File 7a) - Folio 1

1. 'Cyclamen'

2. 'The pale and pilgrim moon'

3. 'Harebell'

4. 'An Eastern court'

5. 'The alpine cross'

Opus 93 Ser IV (File 7b) - Folio 1

1. 'Street of all souls'

2. 'Now in these fairylands'

3. 'A candle cool'

4. 'Bright hair grow dim'

5. 'Sinks the dead cedar-tree'

Miscellaneous songs (File 8) - Folio 1



'I am the reaper'

'In the street of lost time'

'In the year that's come and gone love'

'Let me sleep'

'Neither moon nor candlelight'


'O gather me the rose, the rose'

'Praise the generous gods'




'Ruth's song of praise'

'The sea is full of wandering foam'

'The spring my dear is no longer spring'

Miscellaneous songs, 'The shepherd' (File 9) - Folio 1

Miscellaneous songs (File 10) - Folio 1

'Upon a child'


'Bright hair grow dim'

'The headache'

'The white peace'

Miscellaneous songs (File 11) - Folio 1

'Upon a child'

'To God, on his sickness'

'To heaven'


'A grace for a child'

'His creed'

'The headache'

'To violets'

'An epitaph upon a virgin'

'To the water nymphs drinking at the fountain'

'To the lark'

Miscellaneous songs (File 12) - Folio 1

'To the yew and cypress'

'Borne was I to meet with age'

'Hope well and have well'

'When I consider, dearest'

'I begin to wane in sight'

'Let not thy tombstone'

'Burn or drown me'

'The bedman'

'Tis said as Cupid danced'

'Upon her feet'

'On love'

'To sycamores'


'To daisies, not to shut too soon'

'The primrose'

Untitled Songs (File 13) - Folio 1

First words

I follow a star

I am the gilly of Christ

By a word rows mystery of Christ

When rocks fly homeward

As I came over the grey, grey hills

Christ wandering with the Twelve

The dark is magical

The women bore their children

He staggered through the burning street

Twilight fallen white and cold

I am the mountainy singer

The moon is on the marshes

At morning tide, upon the hill of Slidhamban

Piano Pieces (File 14) - Folio 1

'Variations on an original theme'

'In the land of memory'

'Dance of the little happiness'

'The farewell of sight'