[Alfred Hill interview]. 1958.

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Media type
Interviews (Sound recordings)
Sound recordings
RNZ Collection
Hill, Alfred (b.1869, d.1960), Interviewee
Thomson, John Mansfield, Interviewer
Radio New Zealand. National Programme (estab. 1964, closed 1986), Broadcaster

T 1935, T 1936 and T 1937, recording date most likely 1958.

Alfred Hill is interviewed by John Thomson about his life, music and composing. These were recorded in Hill's home in Sydney and are raw interviews. Hill was 88 years of age at the time of this interview. Dur: approx 85'00".

T1935 -
Early interest in Māori music; Suggested to James Cowan and Jimmy McDonald that they record Māori songs and chants in the King Country; recalls Guide Maggie Papakura of Rotorua and her sister Bella (who he says was the best Māori performer in New Zealand); Māori traditions around music; death of von Tempsky; James Cowan; Kimble Bent; Elsdon Best; Hare Hongi (Henry Stowell); Maggie and Bella Papakura as an old women; Charles Goldie - artist - he used to listen to Māori elders sing after Goldie had painted them.
Early missionaries and books on Māori; recalls early musicians in Wellington: Robert Parker, teacher and organist of St Paul's for many years; Rivers Alpers, violinist; Maughan Barnett, pianist.

T1936 -
Influence of modern music on Māori music and vice versa; sounds/rhythms of nature in Māori music; politics
Sings examples of early waiata to show development of range; "Hinemoa" melody came from Wi Duncan; hunted to find origins of the song; came from Rarotonga; "Now is the Hour" - Māori reworking of it; first Māori song he heard from E.D. Hoban; used in "Hinemoa" (conflicts with earlier story?)

Recollections about his orchestra (NZ's first professional orchestra); childhood performances; amateur musicians in early NZ were of very high standard; Parson family of Wellington; his brothers Teddy and Jack were singers; discovery of gold at Terawhiti inspired a burlesque show "The Very Witty Diggings"; The Patchwork company.

T1937 -
Early memories of music in Auckland; first composition was a song for his sister; "Hinemoa" written by Arthur Adams, successful performance at Wellington Exhibition; compositions regarded as controversial in his lifetime such as Wagner; Schumann; breaking the "rules" of musical composition; religious beliefs. Sacred Māori songs only sung on special occasions; influence of western music on Māori music.
The role of music in his early family life; people used to stand under his family's verandah to listen to them; favourite form of composition; writes music because he loves composing - whether it is popular or not; lot of musical talent in New Zealand and Australia, despite lack of support; no support for Māori music or art from government; still writing a new piece of music every two days; recalls first opera "Lady Dolly"; setting up NSW State Conservatorium; his opinion of modern music.