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William Holland (1927-2021) : Represented Artist

Random Audio Sample: Longueville : violin with piano by William Holland, from the CD Ghosts, fools and seers

Photo of William Holland

William Holland was born in Mosman, NSW in 1927. During the depression the family faced a struggle and dislocation. William's father died in 1936, and the family moved to Katoomba where Holland completed his schooling in 1944. Holland was rejected for military service on health grounds. He became articled to a surveyor in Gosford and a registered land and engineering surveyor in 1951.

Meanwhile, he studied composition with Franz Holford (1950-51), then enrolled in the course at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music studying violin and theory. His teachers included Raymond Hanson, Cyril Monk, Dr Nixon and Livingstone C. Mote.

While working concurrently as a surveyor for the Water Board he had his ear completely severed and sewn back on in 1953. This occurred a month or so before the examinations for his AMus A and for Grade one at the Conservatorium. It was a long time before he could play the violin again, and subsequent survey work left little time for music. In the following years he worked as a surveyor for the Sydney Water Board, the New Zealand Ministry of Works and the British Columbia Power Commission in Canada. In 1957 he returned to the Sydney Water Board and transferred to the NSW Department of Main Roads in 1959.

Holland began evening studies for a BA at Sydney University (1963), was awarded a Commonwealth Post Graduate Scholarship (1969) and studied full-time for a PhD in geomorphology, awarded in 1975. In 1978 he obtained a Diploma in Environmental Studies at Macquarie University. His work at this time was in the DMR as a Senior Investigations Officer and at times acting as Principal Planning Officer. He retired in 1986. In 1985, 1991 and 1996 underwent heart by-pass operations. In May, 1996, he became an Emeritus Surveyor in New South Wales.

From 1990 until 2000 he studied composition with Dulcie Holland (not a relative), and even more recently with Emlyn Lewis Jones. The AMC's collection holds of his works 48 pieces there - in addition he wrote some 24 musical works of varied nature since 1952.

In 2002 he received a Licentiate in Composition (with honours) from the Australian Society of Musicology and Composition. In February, 2010, he received a Certificate of Recognition for attending the Sydney Conservatorium of music and was recognised as an alumnus of the University of Sydney.

William Holland continued writing music until very recently. He died on 12 February 2021 at the age of 94.

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Luna Park : for flute ensemble & wooden sticks (2003) Commissioned by Ms. Jan Squire for William Clarke College, Kellyville
Digital sheet music sample Symphonic poem : full orchestra : youth orchestra (2001) Written for Newtown High School of the Performing Arts, Sydney
Digital sheet music sample Back to the forties (quintets: flute, clarinet, saxophone, percussion, cello) (2000) Commissioned by Lewis Jones for Newtown High School of the Performing Arts