Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

de Cairos-Rego, Iris

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De Cairos-Rego, Iris

Iris de Cairos-Rego was a prodigiously gifted child pianist. Her first teacher was her father, the well-known Sydney musician and composer George de Cairos-Rego, who sent her to Berlin and London for further tuition in 1907. She returned to Australia in 1910 and began teaching at the new Sydney Conservatorium in 1915. She was soloist in concertos by Beethoven and Schumann in 1920 with the New South Wales State Orchestra under Henri Verbrugghen. She frequently appeared in concert as associate artist with such fellow musicians as Cyril Monk, the Austral String Quartet, and her brother, Rex, a singer and also a composer.

For most of her professional career, she taught at Frensham School at Mittagong in the New South Wales southern highlands. There she wrote many of her published compositions, including in 1936 the descriptive Toccata for Piano, subtitled 'The Train'. Her 1938 set of Australian-inspired Bushland Sketches for piano duet, published in Sydney by Paling & Co, was written to be played with her own pupils, and dedicated to Frensham's inspirational headmistress Winifred West.

De Cairos-Rego also continued to commute regularly to Sydney where she remained much in demand for professional engagements as a piano recitalist and chamber musician, and as a frequent ABC broadcaster through the 1940s and 1950s. Many of her attractive short piano compositions were published in Sydney and London by Chappell & Co.


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