Notables S-T

Schmitt, Carl
Schott, James Arthur
Searelle, Luscombe
Silk, Arthur
Sleath, Henry W
Spensley, James
Squarise, Raffaello
Squire, Byron
Stokes, Thomas Oliver
Swallow, Martin
Sykes, Charles
Te Aro Music Warehouse
Tendall, George
Tidman, Harold Woods
Theomin, David Ezekiel
Thomas, William Edwin Somerset
Thompson, Robert
Towle, Henry F.
Trimnell, Thomas Tallis
Trowell, Arnold
Trussell, Charles

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 (Unpublished, 1888)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


Searelle, Luscombe

Composer, impressario
Born: 1853, England.
Died: 1907, England
Active in New Zealand : 1864-1880s

Willliam Luscombe Searelle was born in England in 1853 with the surname Searell – he later added the final ‘e’ . He came to New Zealand as a child of 11 and attended Christ’s College in Christchurch. Intending a career in law, he turned his back on this to join the theatre, touring Australia and New Zealand. He wrote a number of operas and in the early 1880s returned to England. He soon returned to Australia and New Zealand, becoming a threatre manager. He then migrated to South Afrida which remained his home until a return to England after the outbreak of the South African wars.

Compositions (Selected)
Zealandia: polka mazurka. (187-?)
The wreck of the Pinafore. (Unpublished, 1880)
Estrella.(New York: Wm A. Pond, 1883)
Estrella valse. (London: Duff & Stewart, 188-?)
Bobadil. (Sydney: Miller, 1884)
The Soudan march. (Sydney: 1885)
Isadora (1885)
The babies on our block: galop. (Sydney, Elvy, 189-)

‘My Own! My Own’, from the opera Estrella. Performed by Oliver Sewell (NZOPera, 2020)

Commons, J. ‘Luscombe Searelle’. In: New Zealand Opera Studies.
Harcourt, P. Fantasy & folly. (Wellington: Steele Roberts, 2002), p.19-26.
Pinner, M. Mr. Luscombe Searelle , the popular composer. (PhD thesis, University of Sydney, 2012)
Thomson, J. M. Biographical dictionary of New Zealand composers. (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1990), p. 125-127

Photo source:
Title page to The Zealandia Polka Mazurka, composed by Luscombe Searell. Ref: 1/2-147094. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22750877


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).


Sleath, Henry Walter

Music retailer, bandmaster, music teacher, harmonium maker, tuner
Born: 1828, England
Died: 1918, Brisbane, Australia
Active in New Zealand: c1862-c1866

Henry Sleath was a bandmaster in Coventry before coming to Auckland c1862. He set up business in Shortland Street where he taught music as well as selling pianos and harmoniums. He was also a tuner of pianos and harmoniums and repaired band instruments. In 1866 he moved his music business to Brisbane where he remained for the rest of his life.


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).|


Stokes, Thomas Oliver

Born: 26 November 1858, London England
Died: 19 July 1950, Wellington
Active in New Zealand: 1879-1950

Came to New Zealand in 1879 with his family and lived in Dunedin, Marlborough and Wellington. At the time of his composing True British Colonials he was manager of the Wairau dairy factory.

True British colonials. (Blenheim: Penny, 1901)


Swallow, Martin

Pianist, organist, harpist, music teacher, composer
Born: 1846?, Yorkshire(?), England
Died: 1922, Auckland
Active in New Zealand: 1877-1890, 1903-1922

Arriving via a stay in Mebourne, Martin Swallow settled in Auckland in 1877. He established a high profile as a performer, both on the piano and organ, as well as being recognised as an excellent teacher. He was organist at a number of Auckland churches including St Paul’s and St Patricks, and acomposed a number of songs and piano works which which published locally.

Disquiet over his private life lead to the withdrawal of support, and he moved to Mebourne forn13 years before returning to New Zealand, settling in Wellington and resuming his profession as a music teacher.


Birdie. (Composed for Amy Sherwin). (Auckland, 1878)
The Stranger. (Auckland: Evening Star, 1878)
Ngati Maniapoto March. (Auckland: Unpublished, 1879)
Cardinal’s march. (Auckland: Brett,1879), and (Auckland: New Zealand Muse, 1880)
Oh, sing that song again. (Auckland: Brett. 1878)
Oh! Ask me not to sing. (Auckland, 1879?)
La Serenata. (Auckland: New Zealand Muse, 1880)
Little bunch of flowers. (Auckland: New Zealand Muse, 1880)
Nun’s processional march, for harp or piano
. (Auckland: New Zealand Muse, 1880), and, (England: Harts Hatmonium, 1885)
The goblet. (Auckland, 1880)
Auckland march. (Auckland: Unpublished, 1882)
New Zealand jubilee march. (Auckland: Unpublished, 1890)
Saviour of the helpless. (Melbourne: Glen, 1900)

Nichol, E. Dedicated to the colonial music-loving public. (PhD thesis, Uiversity of Auckland, 2017), p172 – 174.


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: c1883, England
Died: 1940, New Zealand
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)


Towle, Henry Francis

Composer, musical director, tenor, organist, music teacher
Born: 1848, Geelong, Australia
Died: 1899, Dunedin
Active in New Zealand: 1878? – 1899

Harrison, W. H. 1882 –
Harrison, H. T. 1894 –

Henry Towle had three distinct musical identities during his career. Born Henry Towle he changed his performing name to W. H. Harrison in 1882, then H. F. Harrison in 1894. He acted as musical director for a number of musical theatre companies inclluding Mugroves and Pollards.

The light that leads me never dies. (Christchurch: Canterbury Music Depot, 1880?)
Prince Bulbo (unpublished)

Australian Variety Theatre Archive


Trimnell, Thomas Tallis

Organist, choirmaster, music teacher and composer
Born: 1827, Bristol, England
Died: 1897, Wellington
Active in New Zealand: 1885-1897

Tallis Trimnell had a well-established reputation and career in England as an organist and pianist. He had obtained a BMus from Oxford Univeresity and as well as having positions in Sheffield gave recitals at a number of other venues. In 1885, for reasons of health, he moved to New Zealand, first to Auckland where he was organist at St Mary’s, Parnell and secondly, from 1890, to St Peter’s Wellington. His first stay in Auckland was very short, with him leaving soon after supposedly because of the poor nature of the organ and lack of career prospects. However, he returned the following year (1886) and stayed in New Zealand until his death. As well as providing music for services, he gave organi recitals and also acted as an adjudicator for brass band compeitions.

Compositions (during New Zealand residence only)
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in D major. (London: Novello, 1892)
Magnidicat and Nunc Dimittis in F major. (London: Novello, 1892)
Kyrie, and Nicene Creed. (London: Novello, 1893)
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in E flat major. (London: Novello, 1894)
Cantate Domino & Deus Misereatur in E major. (London: Novello, 1895) (Novello’s Parish Choir Book, etc. No. 243)
The Earth is the Lord’s: 24th psalm. (Wellington: 1896)
A Festival Communion Service in … C major. (London: Novello, 1897)
O clap your hands. (London: Novello and Ewer, 1900)

Thomson, John M. Biographical dictionary of New Zealand composers. (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1990)


Trowell, Arnold Thomas Wilberforce

Cellist, composer, music teacher
Born: 1887, Wellington
Died: 1966, England.
Active in New Zealand: – 1907.

Although most of his career was spent in England, Arnold Trowell was born in New Zealand and received his early education in Wellington. He and his twin brother Garnet left for study in Europe as mere 16 year olds. He became a professor of music at the Guildhall School of Music and then the Royal Academy of Music. He composed a number of works for cello, ranging from smaller chamber works to a cello concerto. He is also remembered for his connections with the New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield.

Compositions (Selected pre-1920):
Rêverie du soir : violoncello (or violin) with pianoforte accompaniment : op. 12. (London: Bunz, 1907)
Six morceaux pour violoncelle avec accomp. de piano, op. 20. (London: Schott, 1908)
3 morceaux pour piano. no. 3, Valse-scherzo : op. 18. (London: Laudy, 1908)
Capriccio : op. 18, no. 2. (London: Laudy, 1908)
Six morceaux lyriques pour piano. Rêverie tarantelle : op. 26, no. 3, (London: Laudy, 1909)
Nocturne. Op16. (London: Schott, 1909)
Concerto for violoncelle avec accompagnement d’orchestre (ou piano) : op. 33. (London: Schott, 1909)

Griffiths, Martin. Arnold Trowell: violoncellist, composer and pedagogue. PhD thesis, University of Waikato, 2012.

Griffiths, Martin. Arnold Trowell: violoncellist, composer and pedagogue. PhD thesis, University of Waikato, 2012.
Trowell, Arnold Thomas Wilberforce, 1887-1966 : Music scores and papers. Alexander Turnbull Library. MS-Group-1661

Photo source:
A young Arnold Trowell playing the ‘cello. Ref: 1/2-050216-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22722283


Trussell, Charles

Composer, band adjudicator, euphonium player, choir conductor
Born: 1869, London, England
Died: 1947, Queensland, Australia
Active in New Zealand: 1895 – 1907

Receiving most of his musical education was enlisted in the 14th Regiment of the Imperial Army, Trussell emograted to Australia on his discharge. He further migrated to New Zealand from Tasmania, settling in Auckland. He was Bandmaster of the Newton Brass Band before moving to become Bandmaster of the Nelson Garrison Band, where he also set to music some songs by Laura Holyoake.

He frequently took on the responsibilities of being adjudicator at various brass band competitions in New Zealand and Australia and over the years provided the music for a number of the test peces. His works were published in various Australian Band Journals including the Military Band Journal and Sutton’s Journal.

Compositions (selected)
Pateena waltz. (Tasmania, 1889)
Brothers. (Nelson: Colonist, 1901)
Rally round the Union Jack. (Dunedin: Dresden, 1902)
Heart’s delight. (Melbourne: Military Band Journal, 1905)
Joys of life. (Melbourne: Langley, 1905)

March: Maryborough. Paeroa Municipal Band, 1947?. Nga Taonga 5054
March, Rifle Volunteers. Waihi Federal Band, 1947. Nga Taonga 5061