Notables S-T

Schmitt, Carl
Schott, James Arthur
Silk, Arthur
Spensley, James
Squarise, Raffaello
Squire, Byron
Sykes, Charles
Te Aro Music Warehouse
Tendall, George
Tidman, Harold Woods
Theomin, David Ezekiel
Thomas, William Edwin Somerset
Thompson, Robert

Schmitt, Carl Gustav

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: B-K 153-284

Conductor, music professor. composer, violinist
Born: 1837, Frankfurt am Main,Germany
Died: 1900, Auckland
Active in New Zealand: 1859, 1881-1900

Carl Schmitt was born into a family of musicians and trained with his father as well as in Paris. Migrating in 1859 for the sake of his health, he stayed for a short time in New Zealand before going to Australia. He settled there in Tasmania, becoming aide-de-camp and musical director to the Governor, Sir Frederick Weld.

At the invitation of Judge Francis Fenton he moved to Auckland and took up the conductorship of the Auckland Choral Society, a post he was to hold until his dealth. He was also music master at the Ladies College, Remuera and in 1884-1886 sponsored music prizes for the Auckland Society of Arts competitions. In 1888 was appointed as inaugural professor of music at the Auckland University College.

Schmitt was a prolific composer although few of his works have survived. He wrote the music for the national anthem of Tonga in 1889, wrote a cantata “Art and mind” which was performed in Auckland, and several arrangements for piano.

Compositions (selected)
Romance sans paroles pour le piano. (Kyneton, Vic., 1863)
Ave. Spanish evening song. (Offenbach, 1863)
I’ve a welcome for thee. Ballad. (Offenbach, 1864)
Kyneton : fancy waltz for the piano. (Offenbach a.M., 1864)
Petit morceau de salon No. 1. (London: Andre, 1865)
Petit morceau de salon No. 2. (Frankfurt: Andre, 187-?)
Choral march. (London: Augener, 1879)
95th Psalm. (Andre: Offenbach, 188-?)
Art and mind. (Unpublished, 1888)

Other resources
Charles Nalden. ‘Schmitt, Carl Gustav’, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1993, updated January, 2012. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,
For his activities in Australia, see Australharmony


Schott, James Arthur

Oboeist, composer, conductor, bandmaster, teacher
Born: 1831, Ontario, Canada
Died: 1888, Hobart, Australia
Active in New Zealand: 1875-1876

James Schott’s grandfather founded the well known German music publishing house, B. Schott’s Sohne of Mainz. Born in Canada he moved to Australia in 1851 and in 1875 came to Dunedin with the Simonsen Opera Company. After a year in New Zealand he abandoned his wife and children and ran away to Hobart with one of his students.

Come to the fairy dell. (Dunedin: Charles Begg, 1876)

Other resources
For his activities in Australia, see Australharmony


Silk, Arthur

Piano and organ tuner, violinist, organist, music retailer, composer
Born:  1868, 11 April, Scotland
Died: 1962, 24 December, Auckland
Active in New Zealand:  1887? – ?

Began working as a piano tuner for Hoffman and Sons in Wellington c1887.   In 1896 he established his own tuning business in Wellington and also supplied organs, pianos and violins.  He was a violinist with the Wellington Orchestral Society and played the organ.  He moved to Masterton, then Palmerston North, Raglan and Otaki before going to Nelson in 1917.  In 1928 he moved to Auckland.  

Monowai Waltz. (Wellington: Hoffmann, 1891)
A Lover’s Prayer. (Wellington: McKee & Gamble, 1891)

Other resources
Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Wellington, p. 452 (photo source).


Spensley, James

Lyttleton Times, 27 February 1869

‘Cellist, singer, music retailer, publisher
Born: 1831, England
Died: 1904, 11 December, Christchurch
Years active in New Zealand: c1862-1904

James Spensley arrived in Christchurch c1862 after spending some time in Victoria. His services as a ‘cellist were in demand for Christchurch’s earliest concerts and he was a regular member of the town’s orchestral societies. In 1869 he purchased the premises of Charles Bonnington and set up business as a music retailer in Cashel Street. The business later moved to Hereford Street and then to High Street. There were various partners involved in the business which was dissolved after his death. Another business he operated was Spensley’s Hall in High Street. His son, Hector, was a violinist and his daughter, Isabella a concert performer and teacher.


Squarise, Raffaello

Violinist, teacher, conductor, and composer
Born: 1856, Vincenza, Italy
Died: 1945, Roxburgh, Central Otago
Active in New Zealand: 1880-1945

Classically trained as a violinist and after serving as military bandmaster at Contarina and municipal bandmaster at Arzignano, Squarise left for Australia in 1882. After 7 years working mostly in  Adelaide and with various touring companies he moved to Dunedin in 1889 to take up the position of conductor for the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, in which he also appeared as a soloist. He stayed on, becoming an influential figure in Dunedin, particularly in the development of orchestral playing. During this time he wrote and had performed his one opera, Fabian, and also wrote a number of shorter works. He established the Dunedin Philharmonic Society which he led for almost 30 years, retiring to Central Otago.

Compositions (selected):
Symphony in C minor. (1875)
L’Addio, for violin and piano. (c.1884)
Mass St Joseph. (1890, 1914)
Imps waltz. (Dunedin: Dresden, 1892)
Fabian, comic opera.
Fabian grand march. (Dunedin: Corrigan, 1895)
Canto di primavera. (Dunedin: Corrigan, 1895)
Ridi e ballo polka. (Dunedin: Dresden, 1903)
Grand Funeral March in memory of Richard Seddon. (1906)
Onward Otago, march. (1914)

Drummond, John D., ‘Squarise, Raffaello’ in Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (Auckland: Auckland University Press; Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs, 1993), pp. 474–476.
James, Dianne, ‘Squarise, Raffaello’ in Southern People: A Dictionary of Otago Southland Biography, ed. Jane Thomson. (Dunedin: Dunedin City Council and Longacre Press, 1998.)
Murray, David, ‘Raffaello Squarise: The Colonial Career of an Italian Maestro’, PhD thesis, University of Otago, 2005.

Photo source
Public domain photo by Charles Clarke Armstrong


Squire, Byron

Piano tuner and manufacturer, music retailer, composer
Born:  1848, London, England, 1848
Died: 1915, 24 October, Auckland
Active in New Zealand: 1894-1915

Came from a family of London piano makers.  In 1881 he went to Australia where he tuned and sold pianos.  Came to Auckland from Sydney in 1894 and established Byron Squire & Son, Pianoforte Manufacturers as a branch of his family’s business, Squire Pianoforte Manufacturers of London.  The Pandora of his composition was his yacht. 

Pandora Waltz. (Auckland: Byron Square & Co, 1909)

Other resources
Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Auckland, p. 266 (photo source).|


Sykes, Charles

Organist, pianist, composer
Born: 1843, Huddersfield, England
Died: 1926 Melbourne, Australia
Active in New Zealand: 1862-1878

Appointed organist at the Baptist Church, Mirfield at the age of 13 after training under Sir Walter Parrett at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. On his arrival in Dunedin he was appointed organist at St Joseph’s Church. While in Dunedin he played the piano and organ for variety theatre. In 1871 he was declared bankrupt and in 1878 he left for Melbourne.

Sunshine and Tempest: Descriptive Fantasia. (Dunedin: Charles Begg & Co, 1874)
Sunshine and Tempest: Descriptive Fantasia. (Melbourne: W F Dixon & Co, 1885?)

Other Resources
For his activities in Australia see Australharmony.


Te Aro Music Warehouse (also known as E. J. King)

Location: Wellington
Established: 1886
Ceased business: 1911

Te Aro Music Warehouse, 1896

Established by Edwin James King. His eldest son Edwin James King Jnr later took over the management of the business while his father tuned and repaired pianos and taught.

The business published four original compositions, including one each by Edwin King Jnr and his younger brother, Francis.

Photo source
The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout, vol. 75, NZETC.


Tendall, George F.

Choirmaster, organist, music teacher
Born: 1845, England
Died: 1901, Christchurch
Active in New Zealand: 1880-1901

Director of Music and Choirmaster at Christchurch Cathedral from 1885-1901, Tendall was one of the many who emigrated to New Zealand in the hopes of improving their poor health. He arrived in 1880 and in 1885 was appointed lecturer in music at Canterbury University College, having himself been a pupil of John Stainer and completed a Bachelor of Music from Oxford. He composed a number of items, but few have survived.

Jubilee Hymn.  (Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1887)

Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Canterbury Provincial District (photo cource).


Theomin, David Ezekiel (formerly David Ezekiel Benjamin)

Businessman, philanthropist, music retailer and publisher
Born: 1852, Bristol, England
Died: 1933, Dunedin
Active in New Zealand: 1879-1933

David Theomin joined his half-brother in Melbourne in 1874 before settling in Dunedin. With his father-in-law he developed the tannery firm of Michaelis, Hallenstein and Farqhuar (later Glendermid Ltd) and then established his own  business as a wholesaler and general importer. In 1883 he established the Dresden Pianoforte Manufacturing Agency to meet a demand for musical instruments. The firm was successful, with branches and agencies being located in many cities and towns.

As well as being an instrument retailer, Theomin encouraged local composers and the firm embarked on a publishing programme. Theomin’s interest in music was further expressed by his long membership of the Dunedin Male Voice Choir. He and his family also supported artists and the family home, Olveston, was filled with treasures from around the world.  He was also a leader in the Dunedin Jewish congregation and a proud supporter of Dunedin business enterprise.

Mervyn Palmer. ‘Theomin, David Edward’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 27 February 2020)
Olveston Historic Home
Photo source. Dunedin Public Libraries and the Dunedin Lebanese Community: He purapura marara – Scattered seeds.


Thomas, William Edwin Somerset

Professor, organist, composer, conductor
Born: 1867, Oxford, England
Died: 1946, Auckland
Active in New Zealand: 1900 – 1946

Thomas received an extensive music education in England culminating in achieving a Doctor of Music from Oxford University. In 1900 he was appointed professor at Auckland University College of the University of New Zealand, a post he retained until his retirement in 1933. He was a prolific composer and arranger, composing works in a wide range of forms from oratorio to madrigal, symphony to solo instrumental.

Thomas was also conductor of a number of local choirs including the Auckland Choral Society, and the Auckland Liedertafel, and was the local examiner for the London College of Music examinations. He was by nature a retiring personality but was successful in lobbying for the beginnings of a music library although unsuccessful in his support for the establishment of a conservatorium.

Compositions (selected published) (see also the IMSLP site ( )for a number of works in manuscript)
And wilt thou weep: madrigal. (London: Novello, 1890)
Berceuse, for violin and piano. (London: Lyric, 1902)
The message of angels. (Auckland: New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 1902)
The dawn of peace. (Auckland: 1902)
Kingdom of love. (Auckland: Brett, 1903)
Nativity Op 31B. (Auckland: Brett, 1907)
The love hath come too late. (Auckland: Eady, 1910)
A Belgian lament op34. (Auckland: Eady, 1917)

Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1919), p.949
Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Auckland Provincial District, p. 199
Nalden, C. A history of the conservatorium of music, University of Auckland. (Auckland: Faculty of Music, 1981)

Photo source:
W E Thomas. Ref: 1/1-001742-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22617751


Thompson, Robert

Music retailer, composer, flautist
Born: 1855, Roxeth, England
Died: 1915, 24 April
Active in New Zealand: 1874-1915

Robert Thompson came to Lyttleon on the Sir Edward Paget in 1856 but soon after returned to England and then went to Melbourne. In 1865 he returned to New Zealand. working first in the flax-dressing industry. In 1874 he went into partnership with John J. Milner when they bought the Canterbury Music Depot, the business being known as Milner & Thompson. Milner retired from the business in 1881.

Milner & Thompson was the largest music retailer in Christchurch and had branches in Napier (1890-1896) and Ashburton (1903-1910). It was known for its innovative advertising and in 1881 produced a series of tokens initially advertising the business but which became part of the general currency.

Milner & Thompson published fifteen known works between 1885 and 1905, including a composition by Robert Thompson written to accompany Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Absent Minded Beggar. They also published two Apollo Music Albums.

Three of Robert Thompson’s sons worked in the business and when it was sold to Charles Begg & Co in 1920 his son Horace, who was a piano tuner, remained as manager.

The Absent Minded Beggar. ( Christchurch: Milner & Thompson, 1900).

Other resources
Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Canterbury, p. 235.
Nichol, E, Dedicated to the colonial music public DOI, 53-61


Tidman, Harold Woods (Hampton Woods)

Music retailer, pianist, composer
Born: England, c1881
Died: New Zealand, 1940
Active in New Zealand: 1909 – 1940

Born in England, Harold Tidman began work in Begg’s Dunedin branch in 1909 and two years later was appointed manager of the company’s Oamaru branch. He held this post for five years until he left the music trade and moved to Invercargill.

His compositions were published under the nom de plume Hampton Woods and were all composed during the First World War.

Keep on keepin’ on. (Oamaru: Charles Begg & Co, 1915)
Australia’s emblem. (Melbourne: Allan’s, 1915)
Watching with the fleet. (published c1915)
Dear old mother. (Oamaru: Charles Begg & Co, 1916)
‘Don’t you think you ought to be in khaki?’ (unpublished, 1916)