Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Isaac Nathan- The Musical Spy

Isaac Nathan was a decent sort who was hatched in England in 1790 and created 4 Aussie firsts.
He was the first reputable muso to settle here, the first to compose serious music here and the first to study Aboriginal music.
His last first will be mentioned at the end of the article.

He could warble quite well and taught several languages; by the time he was handed the key to the door on his 21st birthday young Isaac had a considerable rep as a musician, and not your 2 cord garage band sort, either.

Princess Charlotte was his patron, to whom he dedicated some of his music and in 1823 he presented a book he'd scribbled, in his spare time, on the history and theory of music which was given the thumbs up from everyone. Oh and he slipped in several operettas at the same time.
See what happens when a lad has too much time on his hands ?!

Now Isaac was, apparently, spying for George IV and William IV but Lord Melbourne refused to pay the bill in 1837. Faced with financial ruin, Isaac blew a raspberry to the old Dart and hitched a ride to Australia.
England's loss was one of our most excellent gains.

Once he hit town, young Isaac and his tribe made themselves at home. He opened a singing academy, sans Aussie Idol contestants, got the gig as choirmaster at St Mary's Cathedral, organised a huge concert and composed solemn odes for the official occasions.
In 1846 he penned Currency Lasses to celebrate 58 years of the colony and in 1847 he presented the first opera composed and produced on Aussie soil, Don John of Austria.

Isaac Nathan appreciated all music and he pioneered listening to and transcribing Aboriginal music, publishing 2 books on the melodies and chants.

Isaac's last first claim to fame was that he was the first man to be run down and killed by a horse drawn tram.
For more controversy and info on Isaac, click HERE and HERE.


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