Notables U-Z

Varty, John
Webbe, William Henry
West, George Richard
West, William Hautrie
Whitehorne, Allen
Whitwell-Butler, Thomas
Willeby, Charles
Williamson, James
Willson, Ellen
Wilson, Annette
Woods, Hampton see Tidman, Harold Woods
Woods, John Joseph
Wright, Ethel
Zettwitz, William Frederick

Varty, John

Publisher, music retailer
Born: 1832, United Kingdom
Died: 1882, 22 August, Adelaide, Australia
Active in New Zealand: 1858-1868

Arriving on the ‘Mariner’ in 1858, Varty set up his own bookselling and general goods business in the Canada Building, Queen St, Auckland in 1860.  He soon expanded his business to include lithographic and letterpress printing. In 1862 he published and sold the earliest known music notation publications in New Zealand. These were two pieces by a bandmaster of the British Regiments in Auckland, Louis Werner’s Southern Beauties Schottische and Fairy Bells Polka Mazurka. Over the next few years these were followed by Bergmann’s Waikato Waltz, and Neuzerling’s Light Brigade Polka.

Varty’s business failed after his arrest for bankruptcy. His presses were sold and after his release he found employment working for the government service. In 1868 he left New Zealand and settled in Adelaide, South Australia where he does not appear to have had any involvement with music printing or publishing.

Nichol, E. “Bookseller, circulating library owner, printer, publisher, agent, raconteur, freemason, volunteer soldier and cricket enthusiast—John Varty’s Auckland career, 1858–1868.” Script & Print: Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand, (2014), 38 (4), pp. 212-228.


Webbe, William Henry

Observer, 17 June 1893, p4

Music teacher, music retailer, pianist, composer, writer
Born: 1856, London
Died: 1921, Auckland
Active in New Zealand: 1883-1921

Webbe’s first retail experience in Auckland was running the music section of the importer of sewing machines, bicycles and pianos, W. C. Dennes. At the same time he established his teaching studio, teaching piano, organ, theory and singing, with the first of his annual student’s concerts being held in 1885. During this time a number of his compositions, primarily for the piano or songs were published and widely advertised.

He then became agent and later manager of the Berlin (later London and Berlin) Piano Importing Company, and as an incentive to purchase, copies of his works were given to purchasers of new pianos. In time he ceased to act as a music retailer, concentrating on his teaching activities and running the Auckland School of Music which had a number of teachers associated with it, including Margaret Spooner, Guillaume Paque, and later his daughter Madeleine Wilcox. He entered students into both of the English music examinations systems, with his students having considerable success, and regular student recitals were a feature of the school’s teaching practice. Continuing his interest from his early days in England, Webbe also wrote a number of articles on music for local newspapers including the Evening Telephone, and was President of the Auckland Society of Professional Musicians.

A contemporary description of the School of Music not only mentions the number and variety of pianos available, but the fact that he had a music library consisting of over 6000 scores and music literature. His teaching and recitals made much use of arrangements of larger works for 2 and 3 pianos.

In addition to his compositions, Webbe wrote two works on music teaching. The Pianist’s ABC was published in London and was well received by the contemporary press.

Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections NZG-18990128-105-1

Observer, 10 September 1898, p17

Compositions and other writings:
My love, I love thee best. (Auckland: Webbe, 1885)
Bell Polka. (Auckland: Berlin Piano, 1886)
Old folks at home. (Auckland: Berlin Piano, 1886)
Supplication. (Auckland: Berlin Piano, 1886)
Trust in me . (Auckland: Berlin Piano, 1886)
Madoleine. Song with pianoforte and violin and cello accompaniment. (Auckland: 1886)  
Jottings. Part 1 Pianoforte playing . (Auckland: A. Eady, 1893)
Pianist’s ABC Primer. (London: Forsyth, 1900)

Alexander Turnbull Library. Wilcox, Madoleine 1887?-1981? : Papers relating to the Webbe School of Music MS-Papers-9772
‘Mr W. H. Webbe’. Observer, 7 March, 1885, p. 9.
‘An Auckland Music School’. Observer, 3 September, 1898, p. 18.


West, George Richard

Conductor, music teacher, composer, music retailer
Born: 1839, England
Died: 1891, New Zealand
Active in New Zealand: c1860-1891

Hocken Collections

George West was born in England and educated as a chorister. After arrival in New Zealand he became an important figure in Dunedin’s musical circles. He was conductor of the St Pauls’ choir, arranged musical programmes for Masonic ceremonies and in 1863 formed the Dunedin Philharmonic Society. This amalgamated with the Dunedin Choral Society a year later and he then conducted the joint choir. In 1865 he was heavily involved in the musical programme for the the New Zealand Exhibition held in Dunedin in 1865.

In 1861 he established Dunedin’s first music retail business and over the next twenty-five years published at least 12 local compositions, including one of his own. He also published three issues of the New Zealand Musical Magazine. His daughter Jeannie Macandrew trained overseas and became a well known musician on her return to New Zealand.

Colonial mazurka (Dunedin: G R West, 1882)
The new flag (Dunedin: G R West, 1885)
The Old Flag (Dunedin: G R West, 1885)

Other resources:
Nichol, E. Dedicated to the colonial music-loving public, pp 188-189


West, William Hautrie

Organist, choirmaster, conductor, teacher, music retailer, composer
Born: 1844, England
Died: 1925, Australia
Active in New Zealand: 1873-1890

Music Heritage New Zealand

The brother of George West, Hautrie West was organist and choirmaster of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst before arriving in Invercargill in 1873 to take up the position of organist at St John’s Church. As well as undertaking this role he also taught organ, piano, harmonium, violin and singing, conducted the Philharmonic Society, the Invercargill Orchestral Society, and the Wesleyan Church choir and was master of the Invercargill Volunteer Brass Band. In 1874 he opened a Pianoforte, Harmonium and Music Warehouse on the corner of Esk and Kelvin Streets where he sold a range of instruments and music. In 1878 his premises were moved to Dee Street. In 1881 he sold his stock and moved to Wellington where he was organist of St Peter’s Church and taught music. In 1890 he left New Zealand for Ballarat.

“May” Polka No 4 Little Dances for Little Players (Wellington: Bock & Cousins, 1890)


Whitehorne, Allen Anderson

Allen Whitehorne 1886 Auckland Society of Arts
Medal for Part-song
Auckland Museum

Civil engineer, composer
Born: 1842, Scotland
Died: 193-?, Paraguay?
Active in New Zealand: 1878-1888

Allen Whitehorne had a life filled with change. He was born in Scotland, spent his childhood in Jamaica. was educated in England. He trained as a civil engineer and worked for a short time in British Guiana before returning to England. He migrated to New Zealand in 1878 where he established his business. Music clearly was an abiding personal interest, and he successfully entered the Auckland Society of Arts music competitions held in 1884-1886, winning first prize medals in 1885 and 1886.

For seemingly personal reasons he moved to Sydney and shortly after to Queensland. His wife, from whom he had separated, was killed in 1889. Whitehorne then joined the Nova Australia movement and sailed for Paraguay in 1893 where he appears to have remained. His Auckland Society of Arts 1886 medal was returned to Auckland in 1938.

Come, Stella, come. In: New Zealand Farmer, Bee and Poultry Journal, May 1885
The Prize waltz. (Auckland: Brett, 1885)
Hurry Scurry Polka. (Auckland: Star, 1886)
Hurry Scurry Polka. In: Music Magazine Christmas Supplement 1886.
The splendour falls on castle walls. Unpublished, 1886


Whitwell-Butler, Thomas

Music teacher, composer
Born: 1861, Ireland
Died: 1915, Lost at sea
Active in New Zealand: 1892 – 1895

Thomas Whitwell-Butler was an Irish organist and music teacher who visited New Zealand for a period of approximately three years. This time was mostly spent in Dunedin where he had family, but he also spent some time living and working in Greymouth. As well as teaching he both sang in and conducted choirs. After his return to Ireland his Irish-language opera Muirgheis was produced in Dublin. He died in the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915.

See also the story on our “Features” page for 14 October, 2019.

New Zealand published compositions:
Fate’s decree. (Dunedin: Wilkie, 1892?)
Benediction, for St Joseph’s Cathedral. (Dunedin: St Joseph’s, 1893?)

Other resources:
Harrington, E. Lost at Sea: Thomas O’Brien Butler and RMS Lusitania (


Williamson, James

Cabinet maker, violin maker
Born: 1854, Shetland Islands, Scotland
Died: 1942, Wellington
Active in New Zealand: 1874-1942

James Williamson lived in Hawkes Bay and Fielding before moving to Wellington and working for some time with the Post and Telegraph Department. His skill as a craftsman woodworker was recognised and he produced a number of ceremonial pieces for the government. His violin-making became his main activity after his retirement and his instruments, many of which used native timbers, were recognised internationally for their quality.

Alexander Turnbull Library. Archive of New Zealand Music. Williamson, James, 1854-1942: Papers. MS-Group-0637

Photo source
Violin and case., 1928, New Zealand, by James Williamson. Purchased 2014. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Te Papa (GH024251)


Willeby Hawthorne, Charles

Music critic and writer, composer, accompanist, music teacher
Born: 1865, England
Died: 1955, England
Active in New Zealand:

It is arguable whether Charles Willeby, or Willeby Hawthorne, belongs in a resource dedicated to New Zealand music. However, along English-born and living most of his adult life in England, Charles Willeby had a New Zealand connection and started his musical career while a young man in New Zealand.

He arrived in New Zealand with his mother and step-father (Stuart Hawthorne) in 1871. Tragic family circumstances lead to a return to England and then back to New Zealand where he took up a position with the New Zealand government service in Wellington. His passion however was music and he performed at a number of concerts. After a few years and just after his marriage to the singer Mary Hume in 1889, he traveled back to England where he dropped his late step-father’s name and established a career as a writer on musical subjects as well as composing songs. He also published and composed under the name Cuthbert Wynne.

Compositions and books (selected)
Daphne. (Wellington: Lyon & Blair, 1886)
The golden fleece. (Dunedin: Begg’s 1886)
So long ago. (London: Enoch, 1889)
At Even. (London: Lucas, Weber, 1890)
My other self. (London: Lucas, Weber, 1890)
Longing for thee. (London: Lucas, Weber, 1891)
Saionara. (Unpublished, 1892)
Masters of English music. (London: Osgood, 1893)
Night fairies. (London: Elkin, 1902)
Album of favourite songs. (London: John Church, 1904)
Mandalay: song. (Cincinatti: John Church, 1911)


Willson, Ellen

Music teacher, housekeeper
Born: 1836?, England
Died: 1903, Wolverhampton, England
Active in New Zealand: 1865-1897?

Ellen Willson also used the pseudonym “Estelle”.  She was a music teacher of Cambridge, and housekeeper to Dr Waddington. She composed a number of songs, a Dead March after the death of Queen Victoria, and a hymn which won an English competition.  She also wrote a satirical literary work  Chronicles of Cambridge.

Fidelite. (Auckland: Eady, 1893)
Only a tiny glove. (Auckland: Auckland Music Warehouse, 1879)
I thought I head the organ pealing. (Auckland: Wilson and Horton, 1894)


Wilson, Annette Eliza

Music teacher, pianist, composer
Born: 1835, England
Died: 1902, England
Active in New Zealand: 1870s – 1890s

Kia Ora

Annette Wilson was in her forties when she emigrated to New Zealand, residing first in Wellington and then for a period of almost twenty years in Dunedin. A cousin, Florian Charles Elliston, had also emigrated and worked at the Customs Department in Wellington.

Wilson’s family was heavily involved in music and the performing arts. Her father, Marmaduke Charles Wilson, was a “Professor of Music” in Westminster, London and her maternal grandparents  were Robert Elliston, an actor playwright, singer, and theatrical manager  and his wife, who wrote the music for some of his productions. Wilson had been a pupil of Sir Charles Halle and Sir John Goss, and was also an Associate of the Royal Philharmonic Society.

Already a published composer at the time she emigrated, she composed and had published a number of works while earning her livelihood as a piano teacher and performer. When she first arrived she settled in Wellington and acted as accompanist for the Choral Society, but soon moved to Dunedin.

Wilson’s earliest known composition was the March of Triumph published in 1856 but most of her compositions dated from the mid 1870s. She wrote piano works in the popular forms of waltzes, gavottes, mazurkas and marches, songs, choral works and some unpublished  instrumental ensembles. Many of her New Zealand works were performed at concerts in Dunedin and in 1895 a concert was presented made up entirely of her works. In addition to her musical compositions she wrote a small (32 pages) book on musical ‘grammar’, drawing on her considerable experience as a piano teacher.  In 1892 she also wrote a paper for the Otago Institute entitled Analogy between light and sound : are they convertible?  which indicates she may have experienced musical synaesthesia. Wilson travelled back to England on several occasions while living in New Zealand. In 1897 she sold her grand piano (but not her property), indicating that she was planning a longer visit. Her connection with New Zealand remained strong and her song March On made specific reference to New Zealand soldiers in the Boer War.

She died in England in 1902 without returning to New Zealand.

Published compositions:
March of triumph. (London: 1856)
Crocus. (London: 1865)
Reverie for the piano. (London: Lambourn, Cocks, 1874)
I watched the sun rise o’er the sea. (London: Lambourn Cocks, 1876)
Tarantella. (London: Ashdown and Parry, 1877)
O tarry thou the Lord’s leisure. (London: London Music Publishing/Beggs, 1878)
Gavotte and Musette (after Bach) for the piano. (London: 1879)
Village mazurka. (Wellington: Bonnington, 1879)
Bouree. (Dunedin: Kelsey, 1882)
New Zealand jubilee waltz. (Dunedin: Beggs, 1887)
Hinemoa waltzes. (Dunedin: Beggs, 1888)
Apnur Ghur. (Dunedin: Beggs, 1888)
White wings waltz. (Dunedin: Beggs, 1888)
Genevieve Gavotte. (London and Melbourne: Swan, and Glen, 1893) – published under the pseudonym Kia Ora
Midsummer Eve Mazurka. (London: Chappell, 1895)
March on. (London: Weekes, 1902)

Other publications:
“Analogy between light and music – paper to the Otago Institute.” In: Transactions of the Royal Society of NZ, Vol. 25, 1892, p.510-514
First stepping stones in the grammar of music. (Dunedin: Otago Daily Times, 1895)

Other resources:
Nichol, E. Dedicated to the colonial music public, pp. 84-88.


Woods, John Joseph

Local government official, composer, violinist, choirmaster
Born: 1849, Tasmania, Australia
Died: 1934, Lawrence, Otago

Woods is most remembered for being the composer of New Zealand’s national anthem. He entered the 1875 competition to set the words of Thomas Bracken’s poem “God Defend New Zealand” and won the prize. He was recorded as being proficient on twelve instruments and active in the musical life of Lawrence as well as many other activities such as tree planting. His wife was also musical, being organist at St Patrick’s for 30 years, and his daughter Mary studied piano in London before becoming a music teacher in Dunedin.

God defend New Zealand. (London: Hopwood and Crew, 1878)
God defend New Zealand. (Lawrence: George Jeffrey, 1884)
March of the Highland Brigade. (Dunedin: Saturday Advertiser, 1885)

Other resources
Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Otago and Southland Provincial District, p. 683 (photo source)
Southern people. (Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1998).


Wright, Ethel Gertrude Elizabeth

Musician, composer
Born: 1881, Auckland?
Died: 1971?

Ethel Wright was educated in Auckland where she learnt the piano from Miss Jessie Adams and passed various Trinity College music exams. She published her first piano work at the age of 21 and continued to write and have published a number of songs even after her marriage to Dr Frederick Reid-Mackay and move to Dannevirke. She was involved with the Dannevirke Operatic Society and contributed to a number of Dannevirke recitals.

Unusually, many of her compositions were published in Australia, although they were distributed in New Zealand as well. After the early death of her husband she appears to have published no further works.

Impish revels. (Melbourne: Glen, 1902)
Mine only mine. (Auckland: Eady, 1902)
By the old style. (Auckland: Eady, 1904)
The city glorious. (Melbourne: Allan, 1906)
Lilacs. (Melbourne: Allan, 1907)
Two songs (Farewell and A Legend). (Sydney: Nicholson, 1912)
When all is still. (Sydney: Nicholson, 1913)
You never could forget. (Sydney: Nicholson, 1914)
Valse Beth. (Sydney: Nicholson, 1917)

E. Nichol. “Transplanting traditions”. In: Searches for tradition (Wellington: Victoria University, 2017)


Zettwitz, William Frederick

Violin maker, music retailer
Born: 1868, Hamburg, Germany
Died: 1955, Auckland
Active in New Zealand: 1907-1924

Zettwitz learned his trade in Liverpool where he also produced banjos and other stringed instruments. He migrated with his family in 1907 and estalished a violin shop in Auckland, selling instruments and accessories but focussing on violin making. He returned to England in the mid-1920s but returned to New Zealand in the 1950s. His son, Frederick, re-established the family firm which widened its scope to include guitar making and restoration. Zettwitz’s violins still occasionally appear in auction houses.

Interview with Mr Zettwitz (Frederick) – Larry Killip. 1951. Podcast