Sir Frank Callaway AO CMG OBE 1919-2003

Frank Callaway

Sir Frank Callaway

The youngest of the four children of Frank Callaway Senior, an electrical engineer, Frank Adams Callaway was born in Timaru, New Zealand, on 16 May 1919.

When war broke out he enlisted for overseas service. He was rejected because of his poor eyesight, but the Royal New Zealand Air Force recognised his musical potential – he joined its Central Band as a bassoonist and arranger.

 

The Pied Piper

Towards the end of his long life, his colleagues at the International Society for Music Education had this to say about Sir Frank Callaway: ‘It is probably true that Sir Frank Callaway must know, and be known by, more people in music education throughout the world than anyone else. The list of countries he has visited is staggering: at a modest estimate he must have covered well over a million miles – a feat which these days is only surpassed by astronauts. His vision for music education in its broadest sense is respected internationally. It is unlikely that anyone else has devoted as much time and energy to the cause of music education and given such support and encouragement to musicians, music educators, composers and many others, as Sir Frank Callaway. His generosity of spirit and his seemingly endless vitality – despite his age – is still an inspiration to music educators regardless of the sphere in which they work or the generation to which they belong.’

The youngest of the four children of Frank Callaway Senior, an electrical engineer, Frank Adams Callaway was born in Timaru, New Zealand, on 16 May 1919. His father was a good cricketer, and passed on his passion for the game to young Frank, but it was music that the boy loved best. His parents had him taught the violin.

‘As a child, I simply loved being involved in music-making’, he recalled, ‘and after first experiencing the thrill of music-making as leader of an early children’s orchestra, this sort of activity became central to my life.’

Because of the depression, Callaway left school when he was 15. He started his working life with a firm of commercial stationers, eventually becoming a travelling salesman. Evening studies at Christchurch Technical College led to Otago University at Dunedin, where he set his sights on a Bachelor of Commerce degree. In 1939 he abandoned this and entered the Dunedin Teachers’ Training College. When war broke out he enlisted for overseas service. He was rejected because of his poor eyesight, but the Royal New Zealand Air Force recognised his musical potential – he joined its Central Band as a bassoonist and arranger.

In 1942 the Air Force gave Callaway leave so that he could succeed the inspirational Vernon Griffiths as Head of Music at King Edward Technical College in Dunedin. At the same time, Callaway played viola and bassoon in the New Zealand Broadcasting Services’ Orchestra, and continued his music studies music part-time at the University of Otago. He eventually gained his Bachelor of Music degree, plus sundry prizes, including the Phillip Neil Prize for New Zealand composers. In 1947 the university’s Fanny Evans Travelling Scholarship financed his trip to London – but the funds would not stretch to allow Callaway to take his young wife, the brilliant pianist Kathleen Allan.

Media Gallery

Watch this space

Related Links

Watch this space

Biographical references

James Glennon: Australian Music and Musicians, Rigby, 1968
Helen Stowasser: ‘Sir Frank Callaway’, in The Oxford Companion to Australian Music, Oxford University Press, 1997