The Lyrebird Press was established at the University of Melbourne in 2006 to continue the work of Éditions del’Oiseau-Lyre (The Lyrebird Press), established in Paris in 1932 by Melbourne-born publisher and patron of the arts Louise Hanson-Dyer (1884–1962). The focus of the Melbourne Lyrebird Press is music and Australia.
Lyrebird Press has published both books about music and music editions (see below) and are the publishers of the scholarly book series, Australasian Music Research (AMR), founded in 1996. For more information, please see the Lyrebird Press Webpage.
The subject of this book is specific but not essentially unique. It concerns a European musical culture transplanted by Europeans to a country not in Europe; a theme paralleled in the experience of several other countries: of, for example, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, the South American countries to a lesser extent and, most strikingly, of the United States of America. Such a musical culture is provincial by definition; and a provincial culture has obvious limitations. An Australian writer, Neil McInnes, recently described Australians as no more than the “boundary riders of a culture”.1 The statement is too flamboyant: we are now more likely to be classed as the outer suburban commuters of a culture. But there is no cause for shame or undue chagrin in this. The same kind of limitation applies to the people of Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, many of the countries of Latin America and, in most respects, to the white population of the United States. Certainly, the United States is in the process of evolving a new musical culture; but that process is far from complete, particularly in the area of formal original composition of music. What is interesting in examining the music of a transplanted culture is to observe what happens to music when it is transplanted and in the course of this, perhaps, to gain further insight into what is durable or valuable or universally applicable in the original culture. Since the number of countries and the number of people in those countries involved in what can be called a provincial musical culture is now very large, the subject is of wider concern than might appear at first. As a result of the expansion of European settlement to all continents of the world, the situation has developed in which a considerable part of the world’s population of European stock is existing, and creating art, within a transplanted and more or less subsidiary culture. A survey of the extent to which music on the European pattern is surviving and thriving in Australia is likely to have much broader reference than if the principle of a transplanted musical culture applied only to one numerically small nation. It may provide some illumination of the general practice and outlook of the dependent countries of European culture and the problems they must all encounter.