Do you have a story about music at Melbourne?

Submit your memories, photographs and comments to with the subject line, Melbourne Music Memories.

Eileen Harrison (19 November 1892 – 19 June 1979) was introduced to the piano by the Sisters of Mercy at the Mansfield Convent, Victoria. She entered the Academy of Mary Immaculate, Nicholson Street, Fitzroy to prepare for the various musical examinations at the University of Melbourne. In her Matriculation year in 1911 Eileen Harrison passed her grades with honours and won the 1912 Marshall Hall Scholarship for tuition at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. After graduating, Miss Harrison took out advertisements in newspapers as a “Diplomatiste -Teacher of Pianoforte and Violin,” specialising in the preparation of students for the University of Melbourne Musical Examinations, and was also available to perform with “Terms arranged”.[Heidelberg News and Greensborough and Diamond Creek Chronicle, 1915 – 1916.] These engagements included a concert in the Cathedral Hall, Fitzroy, at which she played Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu “with freedom if not with irreproachable accuracy.”[The Age, Wednesday 2 December 1914, p. 10.] Members of the Celtic Club were regularly entertained by her fine playing. Eileen also performed duets with her lifelong friend Imelda Clancy, who was first violin for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. On 29 January 1917 Miss Eileen Harrison married and became Mrs Eileen Kiernan. Her daughter Mary Kiernan became an accomplished concert pianist, performing across Europe, as well as concerts for the popular ABC in Concert series. Frederic Kiernan, who is Eileen Kiernan’s great grandson, won The Chancellor’s Prize in 2020 for his music thesis titled, "The Figure of Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679 - 1745) in the History of Emotions."

Dr Kathleen Kiernan
On Eileen Harrison
focus-top-left focus-bottom-right

In 1973 I commenced a Science degree at Melbourne University. My piano teacher had recommended that I join the Choral Society as she said it was a great way to meet people. So in Orientation week I nervously fronted up to my first MUCS (Melbourne University Choral Society) rehearsal. I had no need to feel nervous, I was made to feel very welcome and my love of choral music was born. And I made friends with students from many other faculties in the University, and from other Universities courtesy of Intervarsity Festivals. MUCS enriched my University experience and had a huge impact on my life. I discovered a new hobby which has given me a huge amount of joy and helped to keep my brain active. I still sing with two choirs and until this year’s pandemic I was out singing at least two nights a week but quite often many more than that. I also discovered the wonderful community offered by choirs and made many lifelong friends, including my husband! Earlier this year, a social media page gathered close to 1,000 past and present Australian university choral society members and over 350 of them made a virtual choir recording. The connections between generations of university choral singers were very special, based on a shared love of music, nurtured for many of us while at University. I am always very grateful for the initial recommendation.

Ruth Anderson
Music experience at Melbourne University
focus-top-left focus-bottom-right

It was a great honour for me to see Les Craythorn himself perform on this remarkable instrument in 2016!

On the Synthi 100 from the LP ’Electronic Music University of Melbourne’
focus-top-left focus-bottom-right

I recently visited a new dentist and in the course of conversation she mentioned that she’d taken Shakuhachi (bamboo flute) as an undergrad student. This made me feel extremely vindicated because this was exactly what the goal was for the Melbourne Model. It was important that all students had the opportunity to experience making music—particularly those in professional degrees—and this idea was deliberately enshrined in the original Bachelor of Music in the Melbourne Model, and to open up subjects to people with little musical background.

Professor Cathy Falk
Ethnomusicologist and former Dean of the Faculty of Music
focus-top-left focus-bottom-right