- HALL, George William Louis Marshall (1862-1915)
- musicianson of a surgeon and grandson of Marshall Hall the distinguished physiologist, was born in London in March 1862. He was educated at the Blackheath proprietary school and studied languages on the continent. He also studied music at Berlin, and at the Royal College of Music, London. For a period he taught languages and music at Newton Abbot School, and at Wellington College, and in 1890 was appointed the first Ormond professor of music at the university of Melbourne. He began his work early in 1891, and at once decided that he could do little of value unless a conservatorium of music were attached to the university. There was no financial provision for a conservatorium and it was not possible to start one until 1895, when Hall undertook the responsibility of it. It actually paid its way from the beginning. He was an inspiring teacher and gained the unswerving loyalty of all his pupils. From 1896 Hall published four volumes of verse, To Irene (1896), Hymn to Sydney (1897), A Book of Canticles (1897), and Hymns Ancient and Modern (1898), the last volume in particular offending the sensibilities of many religious people. He was attacked by the Argus newspaper and much controversy followed. It was decided in 1900, on the casting vote of the chairman of the university council, that Hall, whose second term of appointment for a period of five years expired at the end of the current year, should not be reappointed. Hall then started a rival conservatorium known as the Albert Street conservatorium, and conducted it with success. He had begun a series of orchestral concerts in 1893, and for a period of nearly 20 years carried them on, keeping a very high musical standard. He was an enthusiastic and inspiring conductor, painstaking and sensitive, especially successful in his renderings of Beethoven and Wagner. About 1912 Hall went to London, and in 1914 was offered his old position of Ormond professor at the university of Melbourne. He took up his duties again at the beginning of 1915, but died on 18 July, following an operation for appendicitis. He was married twice and left a widow, a daughter by the first marriage, and a son by the second. In addition to the books mentioned, Hall was the author of two tragedies in verse Aristodemus (c. 1900), and Bianca Capello (1906). These are now so rare as to be practically unprocurable. He composed many songs, three operas, the music for productions of Alcestis and The Trojan Women, and much chamber music. A symphony by him was played at the Queen's Hall, London, in 1907 conducted by Sir Henry Wood, and an opera, Stella, was performed in Melbourne. Though not entirely uninfluenced by the work of Wagner, Brahms, and Puccini, Hall's compositions had pronounced individuality and sincerity. It was as a teacher, however, enthusiastic and free from pedantry, and as an inspiring orchestral conductor that Hall did his most important work, and the value of his influence on the musical life of Melbourne can hardly be over-stated. Personally he was tall, dark, witty and humorous, intolerant of pretence and humbug, and loved by his friends.The Age and The Argus, Melbourne, 19 July 1915; Sir Ernest Scott, A History of the University of Melbourne; personal knowledge.
Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. Angus and Robertson. 1949.
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