A musical response to Buna, December 1942 - Horace Perkins' Elegiac symphony (1952)

Paper


McNeill, Rhoderick. 2005. "A musical response to Buna, December 1942 - Horace Perkins' Elegiac symphony (1952)." War and Conflict (marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II) (2005). Toowoomba, Australia 12 - 13 Aug 2005
Paper/Presentation Title

A musical response to Buna, December 1942 - Horace Perkins' Elegiac symphony (1952)

Presentation TypePaper
Authors
AuthorMcNeill, Rhoderick
Number of Pages10
Year2005
Conference/EventWar and Conflict (marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II) (2005)
Event Details
War and Conflict (marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II) (2005)
Event Date
12 to end of 13 Aug 2005
Event Location
Toowoomba, Australia
Abstract

Horace Perkins (1901-1986) served the A.I.F as an intelligence sergeant in the Middle East and New Guinea from 1940 to 1944. The war was an interlude in his career as a secondary music teacher (1927-1940) and Supervisor of Music in South Australia for the ABC from 1945 to 1966. A composer of several large-scale works, including three symphonies, Perkins completed his 'Elegiac Symphony' during 1951, and the work was premiered in November the following year. In his program note he wrote: it was on the Buna airstrip on Christmas Day that the ideas came to the composer to write a tribute to those who had died on the battlefield, and to the homes from whence they came.
This is the only large-scale concert work by an Australian to present a musical response to either the First or Second World War. This is remarkable given the importance of the Anzac 'myth' in Australian cultural life. The work portrays vivid recollections of the combat, includes a portrait of the 'laconic' digger, an extensive funeral dirge section, quotations of military tattoos including 'Last Post' and 'Reveille' and popular tunes and finally, an apotheosis of the fallen. The tone of the final section has a similar sense of exaltation that one senses in the Chapel of Remembrance at the National War Memorial in Canberra. Perkins's tribute to his battalion has remained silent since its second performance at an ABC Adelaide Youth concert in 1958.

KeywordsHorace Perkins; elegiac symphony; Australia; Buna; World War II; songs of war
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020360302. Music composition and improvisation
430302. Australian history
360306. Musicology and ethnomusicology
Public Notes

This material will provide some of a book chapter on Horace Perkin's symphonies that will form part of a forthcoming book on the Australian Symphony during the 1950s.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Creative Arts
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https://research.usq.edu.au/item/9zx44/a-musical-response-to-buna-december-1942-horace-perkins-elegiac-symphony-1952

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