Sir Bernard Heinze AC 1894-1982
Sir Bernard Heinze
Heinze became conductor of the reconstituted MSO, a post he held from 1933 until 1953. As well, he was conductor for the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society from 1927 until 1953.
In 1954 Heinze conducted portions of the Royal Gala Performance for the recently crowned Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the Tivoli Theatre in Sydney.
By now Heinze’s University Symphony Orchestra was competing with Fritz Hart’s Melbourne Symphony for dwindling audiences and increasingly scarce funding. The situation was resolved by businessman-philanthropist Sidney Myer who contributed a substantial subsidy on the proviso that the two orchestras amalgamate under university control, but carry the title Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Hart conceded defeat, and Heinze became conductor of the reconstituted MSO, a post he held from 1933 until 1953. As well, he was conductor for the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society from 1927 until 1953.
Heinze was an enthusiastic supporter of Gertrude Johnson’s efforts to establish a National Theatre and in 1936 was the Movement’s inaugural vice president. In 1938 he travelled overseas to investigate the role of radio in promoting music. He was a judge at the Ysaye Competition in Brussels, and led orchestras in London, Paris, Zurich, Berlin, Budapest and in Helsinki, where he conducted Sibelius’ Second Symphony in the composer’s presence.
During the difficult years of the Second World War, Heinze was instrumental in keeping serious music-making alive and maintaining performance standards in Australia. After the war he encouraged the ABC to establish a symphony orchestra in every state. He appeared as guest conductor with all of them and persuaded the ABC to permit the Melbourne orchestra to play in the pit for Gertrude Johnson’s National Theatre Arts Festivals at the Princess – assignments the orchestra detested.
In 1947 Heinze conducted 17 concerts on a tour of Canada. In Melbourne he introduced the ABC Youth Concerts, designed for 16- to 25-year-olds; the innovation proved immensely popular. In 1949 Heinze was the first native-born Australian musician to be knighted. Later that year he was offered the conductorship of the ABC’s newly-formed Victorian Symphony Orchestra, but he declined, preferring to remain with the University.
In 1954 Heinze conducted portions of the Royal Gala Performance for the recently crowned Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the Tivoli Theatre in Sydney and at the subsequent State Reception at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne he introduced Clive Douglas’s symphonic poem Sturt 1829.
In 1956 the Melbourne and Sydney orchestras combined under Heinze’s baton for a special concert in the new Olympic Pool, part of the arts festival that complemented the Melbourne Olympics. The concert included the premiere performance of Clive Douglas’s joyous Olympic Overture.
The following year Heinze succeeded Eugene Goossens as director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music. He held the position until 1966. That year he was appointed to the board of the Commonwealth Assistance to Australian Composers Scheme, which arranged the production of an important set of recordings designed to promote Australian music at home and overseas. To the astonishment of the musical community, Margaret Sutherland, one of this country’s most respected senior composers, was not represented – apparently the result of her steadily deteriorating relationship with Heinze. Sutherland was deeply hurt and never forgave him.
Watch this space
Stella M. Barber: Crescendo, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, 2007
Charles Buttrose: Playing for Australia, Macmillan, 1982
Marc Fiddian: ‘Sir Bernard, the Maestro’, in Parade, February 1974
J.L. Holmes: ‘Sir Bernard Thomas Heinze’, in The Oxford Companion to Australian Music, Oxford University Press, 1997
Thérèse Radic: Bernard Heinze, Macmillan, 1986
David Symons: The Music of Margaret Sutherland, Currency Press, 1997