Sir Frank Callaway AO CMG OBE 1919 – 2003
- Sir Frank Callaway AO CMG OBE 1919 – 2003
Sir Frank Callaway AO CMG OBE 1919 – 2003
The youngest of the four children of Archibald Charles Callaway, 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 Archibald Charles Callaway, an electrical engineer, Frank Adams Callaway was born in Timaru, New Zealand, on 16 May 1919. His uncle, Sidney Callaway, played cricket for Australia in the 1890s, 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.
At the Royal Academy of Music he studied conducting, general musicianship and composition, forwhich he won the Battiston Haynes and Cuthbert Nunn prizes. A Carnegie Travel Grant enabled him to explore music education in the United States, where he met people who shared and shaped his international vision for music education. In 1949 he resumed his work with King Edward Technical College, and also directed a regular series of orchestral concerts and large scale music festivals in Dunedin.
In 1953 Callaway accepted the post of Reader in Music within the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Australia. Six years later he became the university’s Foundation Professor of Music.
Starting with a staff of one (himself), a desk, an upright piano, and a small pile of music, Callaway built up a thriving Department of Music. When he retired at the end of 1984, he was farewelled by 14 full-time staff-members and a large team of part-time teachers. On the way he had developed what is widely regarded as Australia’s finest Music Library – the Wigmore.
Outside his university commitments, Callaway had created and edited Australia’s leading musicological journal, Studies in Music, and other scholarly publications. In association with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra he had organised a series of Composers’ Workshops that attracted many young forward-looking composers.
He had been appointed by the prime minister to serve with Bernard Heinze and John Hopkins on the first Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Assistance to Australian Composers scheme, organising national seminars and workshops for young composers. He had been the foundation president of the Australian Society for Music Education, and had edited its journal. He had served for many years on the Festival of Perth committee.
For a quarter of a century he had conducted the University Choral Society, making it one of Australia’s finest large choirs. He led it in many memorable performances with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and visiting soloists, and he had been guest conductor for ABC orchestras in Western Australia and other states. In 1979 and 1984 he was organising chairman of the Indian Ocean Arts Festival in Perth.
Internationally, Callaway had been a member of the International Society for Music Education since it was founded in 1953 by many of the people he had met on his visit to the United States in 1949. He was its president from 1968 to 1972, then its treasurer and, in 1988, was elected honorary president, succeeding the celebrated composers Zoltán Kodály and Dimitri Kabelevsky. He was also founding editor of its journal.
As a member of the Australian Commission for UNESCO, Callaway represented Australia on the International Music Council; in 1980 he followed violinist Yehudi Menuhin as its president, establishing a close and lasting friendship with him. He was elected a life member in 1985. His UNESCO work took him to General Assemblies and Congresses in Moscow, Lausanne, Toronto, Montreal, Bratislava, Prague, Melbourne, Budapest, Stockholm and Dresden. In 1995 he received the UNESCO Medal, which rewards musicians who have contributed to the enrichment and development of music and who have promoted peace and understanding between peoples.
Other recipients have included Yehudi Menuhin and Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and Indian musician Ravi Shankar. At the time, Callaway was only the second person to be awarded this prize for music education (the other was Nadia Boulanger, in 1979). The organisation’s director-general hailed Callaway as ‘one of the great pioneers and ambassadors of music education in our time’.
Callaway was the dedicatee for Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe’s short orchestral piece Sun Song (1984), and for Dmitri Kabalevsky’s Fanfare for Brass Ensemble. Incredibly, in so full a life, Callaway found time to indulge his passions for gardening, and, all too rarely, composing. His Theme and Diversions for Strings, Theme and Variations for Strings and Prelude and Fugue for Violin and Organ won awards and were publicly performed, but in his later years Callaway preferred to forget them.
Callaway retired from the University of Western Australia in 1984. In his honour the university established the Frank Callaway Foundation for Music, with contributions from Callaway’s friends and admirers. The foundation supports musical activities at the university and works to enhance the strong community and professional associations of the School of Music. Its patrons include Lord Menuhin, Sir Charles Court and Janet Holmes a Court.
The foundation organises the annual Callaway Lecture and stimulates music and music education in Australia and internationally through the non-commercial and co-operative Callaway Centre for Research in Music and Music Education. The centre houses a number of significant collections including those of Callaway himself (including a number of autographed letters and scores by composers such as Liszt, Elgar and Delius), ethnomusicologist John Blacking, Percy Grainger (whom Callaway met during his first overseas study tour and whose ideas on music’s universality impressed him deeply), conductor Verdon Williams, pianist Eileen Joyce (a personal friend of Callaway’s), and music historian Peter Burgis. The Burgis Collection includes significant holdings of Dame Nellie Melba and Peter Dawson memorabilia.
Many of Callaway’s former students and colleagues participated in a joyous gala concert in the Perth Concert Hall on 16 May 1999 to celebrate their mentor’s 80th birthday. After a long period of ill health, Sir Frank Adams Callaway died in Perth on 22 February 2003. He was survived by his wife, Kathleen, who had accompanied him to many overseas conferences, and had a notable career of her own: she was an acclaimed pianist and harpsichordist, and a fine accompanist, particularly for lieder. She was active for many years in concerts and radio broadcasts.
Frank Van Straten, 2007
James Glennon: Australian Music and Musicians, Rigby, 1968
Helen Stowasser: ‘Sir Frank Callaway’, in The Oxford Companion to Australian Music, Oxford University Press, 1997