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Raymond Hanson (1913-1976) : Represented Artist

Random Audio Sample: Three songs, op. 4 : voice with piano by Raymond Hanson, from the CD poet sings


Photo of Raymond Hanson

As a young man, Raymond Hanson had wished to devote his life to evangelical missionary work. The Great Depression, however, curtailed his formal education, and in the years that followed Hanson devoted most of his time to developing his natural gifts as a musician. Largely self-taught, it was only after World War II, in which he served for four and a half years, that Hanson was able to receive any formal training in composition.

Hanson studied at the NSW State Conservatorium of Music with Alex Burnard between 1945 and 1947, as the recipient of a Fellowship in Composition. He was invited to join the staff of the Conservatorium in 1948, where he became a teacher of Aural Training, and later Lecturer in Harmony and Composition, Counterpoint and Aesthetics of Music. Hanson taught at the Conservatorium up until his death in 1976, and his students included many who were to become prominent composers, such as Nigel Butterley, Richard Meale and Barry Conyngham, and leading figures of the jazz world, such as Don Burrows.

Even before attending the Conservatorium, Hanson had achieved a certain measure of success. He gave recitals of his own compositions while in his twenties, and had won prizes for his music during the war years. Unfortunately, he suffered from a lack of support during his lifetime, his music being considered too radical for performance in the 1940s and 1950s, and too conservative in the following two decades. He was fifty-four when he received his first commission (from APRA for a string quartet), and works such as his Violin Concerto lay unperformed for many years. His 1941 Piano Sonata was finally published in 1976, on the day of his death.

Raymond Hanson's music owes much to the influence of Hindemith. He first came in contact with the music and writings on musical theory of this composer in the early 1940s, and throughout his life applied Hindemith's ideas in his teaching, and in his own compositions, which number more than one hundred and include a symphony, a ballet, an opera, an oratorio, cantatas, concerti, chamber works, piano music and several film scores.


Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
1971 Albert H Maggs Composition Award First Prize Divertimento

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Flight (solo piano) (1974) Commissioned by AMEB, 1974.
Fanfare : full orchestra (1973) Commissioned by APRA, Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Digital sheet music sample Van Diemen's Land : brass band (1972) Commissioned by The National Band Council of Australia, by arrangement with the Australia Council for the Arts
Digital sheet music sample Divertimento : wind quintet (1972) Commissioned under the terms of the Albert Maggs Award, 1971.
Digital sheet music sample Fern Hill : for soprano and orchestra (1969) Commissioned by the Department of Music, The University of Western Australia, for the Perth Festival 1970
The Lord reigneth (alto with organ) (1969) Commissioned by the Organ Institute of NSW

Analysis & Media

Book: Music in the service of the state and the politics of style : making a music culture in Australia / Sandra Ridgewell.

Book: The music of Raymond Hanson : a catalogue raisonné / compiled by Graham Hardie.

Book: The Australian symphony from Federation to 1960 / Rhoderick McNeill.

- Article: Birthday bash of note for Butterley

- Program note: David Lumsdaine's "Where the Lillies Grow"