# 39188

LEWIS, John W. (composer)

[SHEET MUSIC] Australia March

$185.00 AUD

/ Composed for the piano by John W. Lewis. Boston : Oliver Ditson, 1854. First edition. Folio bifolium (330 x 250 mm), disbound; 2 pp music notation (arrangement for piano), the first page with decorative title; as issued, with plain front and rear sides; on this copy, the original owner has annotated the front with the title in pencil ‘Australia March’, and in ink ‘No. 5’ (the music would have been bound into the owner’s personal album); the bifolium has separated neatly along its fold, but a very clean example.

Although he is a relatively obscure figure in the landscape of nineteenth-century American classical music, at least some biographical facts about John William Lewis (1836-1898), composer of Australia March, are known. A member of a wealthy and religious New England family, he demonstrated a prodigious musical talent from an early age. He was still only 17 or 18 years old when Australia March was published by Oliver Ditson of Boston in 1854. The title of this instrumental piece – a 4/4 march in the key of B♭ major – was, we presume, inspired by newspaper reports of the Australian gold rushes. (Although, it must be noted, Lewis’s sheet music was published before the Eureka Rebellion, so the inspiration was romantic rather than political). The following is an extract from a Lewis family history, published in 1932:

‘John William [Lewis] born July 28, 1836, died Dec. 31, 1898, married June 19, 1861, Mary Emma Crowell of Norwich, Conn. John was engaged in music and painting from birth, and, during the greater part of his life, was notable for  his ability in band and orchestra, and publicly known as the Theodore Thomas of Connecticut for years. He  and his cousin Judge Holbrook of Norwich were for  years leaders of Church and Orchestral Music there as  well as at Dr. Arms’, Davies’, and Haynes’ churches.  The Lewis Band and Orchestra was known and heard in every part of the state. In earlier life John was with  Oliver Ditson of Boston, and while there his earliest  musical compositions were published. When only 16  years old he taught public singing school in town and  church, and the old Holbrook pipe organ on which he  and his father, Sergt. William taught their church organ  music is still a precious possession of the writer. He died in Norwich Dec. 31, 1898, and rests in the Yantic Cemetery by his wife, who died a few years before.
They left no children.’ (Isaac Newton Lewis. 1602-William Lewis-1671 of Stoke-by-Nayland, England, and some of his Ancestors and Descendants. Norwood, Massachusetts : Plimpton Press, 1932, p. 62).

Trove locates only the NLA copy.