MURDOCH, William David (1888-1942)


MURDOCH, William David (1888-1942)
always known as William Murdoch
musician
son of Andrew Murdoch, was born at Bendigo, Victoria, on 10 February 1888. While a child he won several competitions as a pianist, and about the year 1905 was awarded the Bendigo Austral scholarship. This entitled him to three years' tuition at the Melbourne university conservatorium of music, where he continued his studies under W. A. Laver, afterwards Ormond professor of music. In 1906 Murdoch won the Clarke scholarship which entitled him to three years' tuition at the Royal college of music, London. As the scholarship was not large enough to fully provide for the young man, it was agreed that he should receive the balance of his Austral scholarship, and a further amount was raised from a concert and subscriptions at Bendigo. Murdoch spent four happy years at the London college and made great progress. His first recital at London towards the end of 1910 was very successful, and in 1912 he toured Australia with Madame Kirkby Lunn. He remained there in 1913 and toured with Clara Butt and Kennerley Rumford. He was now a fine player with a sparkling technique, especially successful in his interpretation of the work of Chopin and Debussy. He toured the United States and Canada during 1914, and for some time was with the band of the grenadier guards in France during the war. He gave recitals in Scandinavia in 1918 and in the following year began his long association with Albert Sammons, the violinist, which developed into the formation of the "Chamber Music Players". These two with Lionel Tertis and Lauri Kennedy did some remarkable ensemble playing, each showing the sensitiveness and consideration for others essential to complete success in this kind of work. Murdoch contributed the article on "Pianoforte Music from 1880" to A Dictionary of Modern Music and Musicians, published in 1924, and in 1929 he again visited Australia and toured with Harold Williams. In 1933 he published a volume on Brahms, in which he analysed all his work for the piano, and in 1934 appeared Chopin: His Life, an interesting record in which much new material was made use of. He had intended to include a comprehensive study of Chopin's works in a later volume, but this had not appeared when Murdoch died at Holmbury, St Mary, Surrey, on 9 September 1942. He was married three times, and left a widow, two sons and two daughters. Murdoch's arrangements of organ works by Bach for the piano were very good, and he also composed a number of songs and pieces for the pianoforte. He was steeped in music from his childhood. When he first appeared he had a brilliant technique to which the years added the warmth of temperament and sensitiveness of thought, needed for the expression of a fine musician. He was especially renowned as one of the great ensemble players of his time.
Cyclopedia of Victoria, 1903; The Bendigo Advertiser, 14 September 1942; The Times, 12 September 1942; Australian Musical News and Digest, 1 October 1942; The Musical Times, October 1942; A Dictionary of Modern Music and Musicians.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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