Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Plummer, George

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Plummer, George

An otherwise unknown and uncelebrated Sydney musical figure, George Plummer was the owner of the name 'Sydney Symphony Orchestra' when the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s managing director bought it from him in 1937 for £10.

A group of that name was first formed in 1908. According to Phillip Sametz, it gave 'about six concerts a year ... rehearsing above a fish shop in George Street near Circular Quay'. Among its conductors were Alfred Hill and the English émigré Joseph Bradley, who arrived in Sydney in the same year, to become director of the (later Royal) Philharmonic Society of Sydney. The original venture survived fitfully until 1914 when it was 'snuffed out by the effects of World War I in 1914'. [1]

From 1915 onward, the leading orchestra in Sydney was that of the State Conservatorium of Music, first directed by Henri Verbrugghen. It was this orchestra that eventually formed the basis of the first ABC Symphony Orchestra, which was hired to perform in the Commission’s first-ever radio broadcast on 1 July 1932, and which later became the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.


Phillip Sametz, Play On: 60 years of Music-making with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, ABC Enterprises, Sydney, 1992, p 7


[1] Thérèse Radic, 'Orchestras', in John Whiteoak and Aline Scott-Maxwell (eds), The Currency Companion to Music and Dance in Australia, Currency Press, Sydney, 2003, p 484