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Songs of Home

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The first exhibition of its kind in Australia
Violoncello, 1814. Photo Jenni Carter for Sydney Living Museums; Harmony before matrimony (detail), William Brocas, c1805, after James Gillray. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Gift of Miss A Stone 1936.

Songs of Home tells the little-known story of music played and enjoyed in NSW during the first 70 years of the colony.

This vibrant musical world is explored through recordings of early music, rare instruments, printed scores, and remarkable stories of people creating home through song. Step into grand houses, humble cottages, vast landscapes, pubs and churches, and discover the soundtrack of early Sydney.

See and hear the earliest transcriptions of Aboriginal songs. Follow the story of Australia's first piano as it made its way from Britain to Elizabeth Farm in Parramatta. Discover the story of the Murray family and their musical possessions, hauled by horse-drawn carriage over the Blue Mountains. On display for the first time in Australia are albums of music hand-copied by Jane Austen, revealing her musical tastes and practices, similar to those brought to Australia by immigrants in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Experience a diverse array of music, old and new, through performances by leading Australian and British musicians, as well as students at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. A series of specially commissioned contemporary works by Aboriginal composers, in partnership with the Ngarra-Burria First Peoples Composers initiative with support from the Royal Australian Navy Band, highlight the powerful and continuing presence of Aboriginal music-making.

Surprising, moving, entertaining the fascinating world of music in early NSW is revealed here for the first time as a place of melodious complexity.

Start your musical journey today and find out more about the exhibition and related events at

Exhibition on now

Museum of Sydney

August 10 November 17, 2019

Members receive free entry. Become a member today

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When: 10 August 17 November 2019
Where: Museum of Sydney, Corner Phillip and Bridge Streets, Sydney, NSW 2000
Cost: Adult - $15; Concession - $12; Family - $38; Members - free of charge; Children under 5 years - free of charge
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