Deane, John Phillip

2008
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Deane, John Phillip

We understand Mr Deane and family, who first introduced musical entertainment at the Derwent, are shortly expected. This will be a valuable accession to our present company.

So the Sydney Gazette reported on 12 March 1836 of the imminent arrival from Hobart of John Phillip Deane. [1] The Deanes claimed to have been leading musicians in London. Yet for the previous decade they had earned their living in Hobart chiefly by importing and selling musical instruments.

The Deanes arrive in Sydney

The family's move to Sydney followed soon after John Deane had been forced to spend a short term in prison for debt. Despite this inauspicious prelude, Deane went on to become 'the greatest single musical influence' in Sydney, while he and his family 'were also the first to introduce chamber music into Sydney's musical life'. [2]

To those Sydneysiders who baulked at paying the high prices for tuition at William Vincent Wallace's Bridge Street musical academy, the Deanes were soon advertising much cheaper tutelage to pupils of 'the Pianoforte, Violin, Violoncello, Flute, Singing, and the Theory of Music' at their new 'Music Saloon'. [3]

Deane gave his first Sydney concert at the Royal Hotel on 18 May 1836, assisted by members of his family and several already established locals including one Mr Sippe, who was described in the Sydney Herald advertisement (5 May 1836) as 'Composer and Director of the Orchestra', and the flautist Thomas Stubbs, later the composer of an early patriotic favourite, the Australian Jubilee Waltz of 1838. One of Deane's sons,

ten years of age, executed a solo, The Ploughboy, with variations, on the violoncello ... rapturously applauded. [4]

Together, the company gave the first ever documented performance of a classical orchestral symphony in Sydney, albeit in a reduced chamber arrangement for 'septette', of Haydn's Surprise Symphony. [5]

However, it was possibly the high moral tone of Deane's first undertaking that most impressed the Sydney Gazette, which noted:

What is highly to be recommended in the arrangements of Wednesday evening last, was the exclusion of all known improper female characters – an exclusion to which of course Mr D will appreciate the good policy and propriety of strictly adhering hereafter. [6]

Colonial chamber music

Deane's subsequent Sydney concert programs included a performance, on 29 September 1837, of one of Beethoven's Opus 18 string quartets, for which he was joined by his sons Edward and John, and the aforementioned Irish violinist William Wallace, and on another occasion, tantalisingly, of a trio of his own composition. Reportedly for two violins and violoncello, it was quite possibly the first piece of classical chamber music composed in the colony. Its music is now lost. However, 140 years later in 1977, Sydney composer Peter Sculthorpe imaginatively re-created Deane's work by composing episodes for an identical trio in his string orchestra work Port Essington.

Wallace and Deane were joint founders, in June 1836, of a Sydney Philharmonic Society, a body of singers and instrumentalists which Isaac Nathan conducted a few years later. Deane returned to Hobart in 1844 and died there in 1849. His son John later became a respected Sydney violinist and conductor.

References

James Hall, 'A History of Music in Australia (12)', The Canon, vol 5 no 5, December 1951, pp 203–210

Ann K Wentzel, 'Deane, John Phillip (1796–1849)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 1, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne 1966, p 301

Christine Logan, 'Chamber Music', in Joan Whiteoak and Aline Scott-Maxwell (eds), Currency Companion to Music and Dance in Australia, Currency House in association with Currency Press, Sydney, 2003, 116

Notes

[1] James Hall, 'A History of Music in Australia (12)', The Canon, vol 5 no 5, December 1951, p 203

[2] James Hall, 'A History of Music in Australia (12)', The Canon, vol 5 no 5, December 1951, p 203

[3] The Sydney Gazette, 30 April 1836, transcribed in James Hall, 'A History of Music in Australia (12)', The Canon, vol 5 no 5, December 1951, pp 203–04

[4] The Sydney Gazette, 19 May 1836, transcribed in James Hall, 'A History of Music in Australia (12)', The Canon, vol 5 no 5, December 1951, p 206

[5] James Hall, 'A History of Music in Australia (12)', The Canon, vol 5 no 5, December 1951, pp 203–210; Ann K Wentzel, 'Deane, John Phillip (1796–1849)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 1, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1966, p 301

[6] The Sydney Gazette, 21 May 1836, transcribed in James Hall, 'A History of Music in Australia (12)', The Canon, vol 5 no 5, December 1951, p 206

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