30 Nov 1878 - 'Advance Australia Fair' first performed

On 30 November 1878 Advance Australia Fair was performed for the first time.

The song was written by Peter Dodds McCormick, a Sydney school teacher, who was interested in choral music and all things Scottish. Earlier in the year he had attended a concert of national anthems and, dismayed by the lack of an Australian song, he began composing one on the bus on the way home. Advance Australia Fair was performed at the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on January 1 1901 but did not become the official national anthem until 1984.

Further compositions

The attached documents were found by staff researching WWI records in our collection.

Images 1 & 2: In the Premier's Department Letters Received Received McCormick sent this song An Australian Hymn to Premier Holman for his use. Whether it was used is unknown.

Image 3: This composition Are We Fainthearted? No! is also possibly by McCormick; it is written and composed by "Amicus" which is also part of the calling card in Image 1.

Published on 
Sonic Spaces 2023
23 June, 6pm
Performance

Sonic Spaces

Join us for an intimate series of music performances in one of the city’s most unique spaces, the hammock room at the Hyde Park Barracks

A mannequin dressed in an elaborate Renaissance-style stage costume stands in a large Perspex-fronted display case . On the rear wall a small screen is showing a scene from the opera Lucrezia Borgia where Dame Joan Sutherland is wearing the same costume.

Dressing Joan Sutherland

One of the most spectacular costumes on display in the exhibition The People’s House: Sydney Opera House at 50 is an extraordinary Renaissance dress designed by Kristian Fredrikson and worn by Dame Joan Sutherland in the part of the notorious Lucrezia Borgia

Harold Blair sings at a piano played by Marjorie Lawrence

Paving the way ... Harold Blair: The first Aboriginal opera singer

A short documentary that offers a glimpse into the life of Harold Blair, a world-renowned tenor, family man and political campaigner who sought social justice and human rights for Australia’s First Nations people

Todd Duncan (baritone) with Harold Blair, c.1950s

Harold Blair, trailblazer

Wulli Wulli tenor Harold Blair AM was Australia’s first professionally trained Aboriginal opera singer