Grand High Mass, Beechworth 1858

St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Beechworth.  Rose Stereograph, circa 1920-1954.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection, No H32492/7238

Advertising. (1858, March 17). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 - 1866; 1914 -1918), p. 3. Retrieved May 10, 2014, from

An eight-piece orchestra played at a Grand High Mass at St Patrick's Church, Beechworth, on St Patrick's Day in 1858.

Mr G Griffiths (sic) as the First Violin was the orchestra leader, accompanied by Mr Weichman on Second Violin; J P Hurley on Flute; W Radford on Viola; Mr Barlow on Cornet; Mr Jenkins on Sax Tuba; Mr Wright on Violincello; and Herr Esther on Double Bass.

This performance reveals that George has the capacity to play complex sacred music,

Mr Weichmann was most likely Heinrick Weichmann who had arrived in the Colony of South Australia in 1855.  The Austral Harmony website lists several peccadilloes of Weichman in later years, but in 1857 he announced his presence in Beechworth with two advertisements for a Grand Ball at the Freemason's Arms Hotel, High St Beechworth - one in English, and the second in German, an indication of the large numbers of German-speakers on the goldfields.

J P Hurley was a violinist and flautist, active in Beechworth since 1855, according to Austral Harmony.  Later on the same day, J P Hurley was the conductor of a larger orchestra which played for a Grand Ball held in the Mackay, Miller and Mackay's Store in Ford St, Beechworth. 

Mr Radford is most likely William Radford, whom Austral Harmony says was a musician, violinist and composer, active in Melbourne from 1853, and later traced in Beechworth (1855) and Bendigo (1855 and 1858)

Mr Barlow of course we have met before.

The identity of Mr Jenkins, sax tuba player, for the time being is shrouded in mystery, as is Mr Wright who played the violincello.

The last member of the orchestra was Herr Esther, who can be identified on Austral Harmony as Carl Esther, a double-bass player who arrived in Melbourne in 1855 with a German band and was active in Beechworth in 1857.  According to a news article from 1914, he went into partnership with Charles Keirath and opened a green grocery business in Beechworth, also taking engagements as musicians.