Australia Architecture and Music

Architecture. – With R. Grounds, F. Romberg and R. Boyd the comparison with the modern language in architecture opens in Australia since the end of the Thirties. With them the city of Melbourne, not strongly influenced by the English vernacular and colonial tradition, will orient itself better towards European ideas, thus establishing a cultural primacy that will last until the 1960s. However, in their works, alongside the defense of the value of the modern movement, there is a strong tendency towards a sort of formalism, often highlighted in the search for a single and strong idea expressed in the plan of the buildings.

With the arrival of H. Seidler in Sydney in 1948, this city gradually acquires importance in the approach to the international perspective, especially in the field of public buildings, reaching its complete affirmation during the 1970s and the success of the so-called Sydney Style. The work of H. Seidler, a pupil of W. Gropius and collaborator of M. Breuer, always conducted with coherence and mastery, intends to pursue an Australian path to modern architecture, wanting to respond to the climatic, cultural, economic and social characteristics of the country. His interventions are found mainly in the solution of the themes of large public construction, for which he often sought the collaboration of PL Nervi (Australia Square, Sydney 1968; MLC Center office tower, Sydney 1978; Trade Offices, Canberra 1978; Mid-City Shopping Center, Sydney 1982).

At the same time Sydney is the site of a great international event: the construction of the Opera House by J. Utzon, with a plastic neo-expressionist image, whose construction site (which is also the subject of much controversy culminating in its abandonment by Utzon) lasts so long (1956-73) to allow many Australian architects, including R. Le Plastrier and P. Myers, to work on it.

However, the success of the Sydney Style is favored by other prominent protagonists besides Seidler, such as above all J. Andrews (American Express Tower, Sydney 1976) and the Ancher, Mortlock, Murray & Woolley studio: in 1976 S. Murray left the group (Town Hall House, Sydney 1976; Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra 1984).

Even the capital Canberra has seen in recent years large and qualified public representative building interventions: E. Madigan Torzillo (High Court of Australia, 1981; Australian National Gallery, 1982); D. Jackson (National Sports Center, 1982; Singapore High Commission, 1984) and above all the New Parliament House by Mitchell, Giurgola & Thorp. The building extends its buildings on the hill, the ideal center of the city, extending them along the diagonal axes of the geometry of the city plan.

In recent years, the reaction to the language of the modern movement has manifested itself, in an attempt to create an ” Australian ” architectural culture, founding its reason and necessity in the feeling of distance and isolation of this continent from the rest of the Western world. This controversial attempt seeks its sources of inspiration on the one hand in the natural elements of the Australian landscape (the bush) and its climate; on the other hand in cultural elements ranging from the vernacular tradition of the 19th century, to the lifestyle and current myths of the average Australian, again to the recovery of an attention towards Aboriginal culture.

The theme of domestic architecture is where all of this is reflected and perhaps circumscribed. There is therefore the recovery in the vernacular and rural tradition of rough brick, wood, corrugated metal, large verandas and canopies, and at the same time the attention is focused on the unique and particular picture of the vast and complex Australian suburb, fed by social myth of the individual home. Woolloomooloo Project Team in 1980 it is an experiment in the formal and functional regeneration of a suburb of Sydney, while the conception of the work by Edmond & Corrigan is of a more radical order, which in a series of houses and religious buildings recover the shapes and details of brick buildings of the suburb of Melbourne, giving them an identity in an attempt at hybrid architecture that takes its inspiration from the work of R. Venturi.

On a different level is the work of G. Murcutt, which takes place above all outside the inhabited centers. His houses (Two Houses, Mount Irvine 1979), like ” contraptions in the bush ”, find their place in the landscape of the flattest continent in the world. The corrugated sheet metal unfolds softly in the roofs like the rounded profile of the eucalyptus foliage, and brings the memory of the ancient aboriginal shelters to a technological level.

Still apart is the attention to the historical languages ​​with which we can read the speech in Sydney by Ph. Cox, who with the NSW Institute of Technology in 1984 amalgamates the eclectic remains of an old fruit market, with the value of formal citations, in the plant of the new campus.  For Australia 2013, please check

Music. – In the years immediately following 1945, the now changed social and institutional conditions of the artistic life of the country, together with the immigration of exiles from Europe and a strong growth in public interest, have favored a notable development of the activity and musical production within the framework of a significant reinterpretation of local traditions and values.

The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), which as early as 1930 had intended to protect the national heritage by introducing Australian musical pieces to its programs in a measure of no less than 5%, supervised at that time the establishment of permanent symphony orchestras, carried out through state and municipal funding. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1946, followed by the founding of the orchestras of Bris bane (1947), Hobart (1948), Adelaide (1948), Melbourne (1949) and Perth (1950).

For musical theater, in 1951 Sydney became home to the New South Wales National Opera Company; in 1956 the Elizabethan Theater Trust favors the establishment of the Australian Opera, whose activity has been supported since 1968 by important regional groups, such as the Young Opera of Sydney, the Victoria State Opera, the State Opera of South Australia and the Western Australia and Queensland Opera Companies.

For chamber music, since 1945 the Musica Viva Society was able to organize concerts on a national level, both through the establishment of its own orchestral group, and later hosting chamber groups from overseas.

At the same time more specialized societies were founded, such as the Australian section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM), the Australian Society for Keyboard Music, and other smaller societies devoted to the study of the work of Mozart, Schubert and Bartók.

Particular attention was paid to musical education. New conservatives have sprung up in Brisbane (1956), Canberra (1964) and Melbourne (1973). New music departments have been established in universities, and music courses have been opened in higher education institutes. In 1974 the Opera House hosted the international conference of the International Society of Music Education (ISME).

For the musicological sector, the Australian Society for Music Education was created in 1965, and musicological societies arose in the following years in the main cities. The Australian Musicological Commission met in 1970. In addition to historical works, the studies were oriented towards ethno-musicological research on Aboriginal culture and on the traditions of East Asia.

Among the contemporary composers, the most significant are RG Meale (b. Sydney 1932) and P. Sculthorpe (b. Launceston, Tasmania, 1929). A careful fusion of traditional East Asian styles with the most advanced Western technologies is programmatically pursued in their works. Meale attended courses in ethnomusicology at the University of Los Angeles, and was a professor of composition at the University of Adelaide. He is the author of orchestral, chamber and piano music, and of plays. Sculthorpe is linked in his works to Indonesian and Japanese traditions, and to the Australian aboriginal one. He is the author of choral and orchestral music, and of instrumental works, such as the Irkanda series, in which the use of primitive instruments is recovered.

Of the younger generation, some composers have come to light in recent years: it is possible to remember in particular B. Conyngham (b. 1944), I. Cagley (b. 1945) and B. Howard (b. 1961).

Australia Architecture