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Popular songs about Sydney




Sydney as it Used to Was

This intriguing song contains enough references to send a theatre historian crazy.
From the Sydney Songster No 1 by George Chanson (as sung at the Sydney Concert Rooms).
Published in Sydney circa 1869.
Chanson was writer, singer and publisher George Layou (born London 1835. Died Bundaberg, Queensland 1898)

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I am grateful to music researcher Mike Sutcliffe for his efforts in tracking down popular music and their recordings that deal with Sydney.

O! Sydney I Love You

About ten years ago I was asked by the City of Sydney Council to be part of a judging panel to find a song about Sydney. We cooperated with the ABC mainstream station 2BL
and its presenter, Philip Clark. The result was very encouraging with hundreds of songs submitted and most of them truly dreadful.

The song O! Sydney I Love You won a similar contest in 1927. That competition was run by the Sydney Sun evening newspaper and was entitled Song of Sydney. The winning composition was printed in the March 6, 1927 edition of the paper.

The winning entry was composed by a Syd McLeod then living in Wagga, who had childhood memories of Sydney. For this song (one of three he had entered) McLeod won the £100 first prize.

click on the image to view a larger version

Second prize winner was James Jury who had only been in Australia six months. Third prize winner was pianist Lindley Evans then working as accompanist to Dame Nellie Melba in Melbourne.

The jusdges comprised composer Alfred Hill, conductor Andrew MacCunn and a Mr Aspey.

Shortly after appearing in the newspaper it was published by Palings at at the same time a series of recordings were made, as well as a piano roll.



Here are two songs: one inspired by the Australian bush and the other showing the popular music influence of vocal groups.


(click on the image to view a larger version)

As there were no outlets for recording local compositions in Australia, arrangements were made to record them in England and a number of English labels recorded these songs and in most cases the recordings shipped out for sale within Australia only.

So far this one item has turned up but there may well be others.


Australian Music Published by the Manly Daily

In the early 1920s the suburban newspaper, The Manly Daily, began publishing sheet music by Australian composers with a variety of topics and types. This all started after a song competition was held for the best music to go with the poem, Manly-By-The-Sea. The paper then published further compositions by other Australians.


The Manly Daily, an independent newspaper servicing the beach region of Sydney’s north shore, was an active promoter of Australian music and especially songs about Manly Beach. Featured here are sheet music covers of Manly By The Sea and When The Summer Comes Along plus the prize winning song Woolloomooloo (represented in my collection) and a Hawaiian Jazz waltz. (click on the images to view larger versions)


Adverts in 1926 show that Russ Johnson was the manager of the music department – Johnson having written one of their big sellers – After Dark.

An outlet for sales was at 124 King Street, Sydney, where gramophone records, player rolls, musical instruments as well as sheet music could be purchased.

Unfortunately none of the compositions were recorded locally as they finished just prior to when Columbia started recording at Homebush. However, mention is made at the end of one record that is known to feature a couple of songs.

Sheet Musc

This is a list of songs that deal with Sydney and environs.