Dictionary of Sydney

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de Cairos-Rego, George

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de Cairos-Rego, George

Though born and raised in Victoria, George de Cairos-Rego settled in Sydney in his youth, and became one of the city's best-known professional musicians in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Also a journalist, he was music critic of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and also briefly editor of The Australasian Art Review (1899–1900).

He was local secretary of Trinity College, London, and he convened all of its Sydney (and Australian) music examinations for over 40 years. In 1912, with William Arundel Orchard, he was a founding member of the Musical Association of New South Wales, and served as the organisation's inaugural secretary until 1934. He was also active, again with Orchard, as a leading and vocal advocate of the foundation of a Sydney conservatorium. In an undated submission to the New South Wales Government (c1912–14), de Cairos-Rego recommended:

If the proposed Conservatorium is to do a great work for the musical art of this country, it should offer all the advantages of a European Musical Education [...] It should make special provision for the education of orchestra players – especially wind instrument players. [...] The Conservatorium should specialise in operatic art – and perhaps in dramatic art also. A strong operatic department is essential here: one of the greatest claims of continental cities lies in the almost endless opportunities of education in opera. [1]

De Cairos-Rego composed and published mainly songs and piano works, including his Melba Waltz published by Nicholson & Co in 1898 and personally dedicated to the diva, and La Cascade (Nicholson & Co, 1912) a caprice for piano, whose cover depicts a Blue Mountains cascade. His Hymn of the Commonwealth, first published in the Daily Telegraph, was reprinted with the claims that it was the 'Official Hymn of the Commonwealth' and 'To be sung at the Inauguration Ceremony, January 1, 1901', though it is not clear that this happened.

An active member of the Sydney branch of the Theosophical Society in the 1890s, de Cairos-Rego published articles on music and theosophy in the society's international journal Lucifer. He was also an inventor, and experimented with using electrically generated vibrations as massage therapy for musicians, for which he was granted English and United States patents in 1920 and 1924 respectively. An application to patent his investigations into the 'conversion of electrical impulses into audibleness and vice versa' is preserved in the National Archives of Australia.

His daughter Iris and son Rex were both also pianists and published composers.


Larry Sitsky and Ruth Lee Martin, Australian Piano Music of the Twentieth Century, Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport Connecticut, USA, 2005, pp 85–86

'G (George) de Cairos-Rego (ca. 1858–1946)', Music Australia website, http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ma-kin~457273, viewed 1 August 2011

'The death of Mr G. De Cairos-Rego', Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June 1945, p 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17987389


[1] Reports on the Academy of Fine Arts, undated paper headed 'Conservatorium Notes', State Records New South Wales, 12/1479.3