A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Torrance, George


TORRANCE, Rev. George William, M.A., Mus.D. University of Dublin, born at Rathmines, Dublin, in 1835. Educated as a chorister in Christ Church Cathedral, he afterwards became successively organist of Blackrock, Dublin, and of the city churches of St. Andrew and St. Anne. Among his earlier compositions was a 'Te Deum' and' Jubilate,' sung in Christ Church Cathedral. At 19 he composed his first oratorio, 'Abraham,' which was performed in 1855 at the Ancient Concert Rooms, Dublin, by all the leading musicians of the city, Sir Robert Stewart presiding at the organ and the composer conducting. 'Abraham' was performed four times in two years. It was rightly deemed a wonderful work for a mere lad to produce; the airs were written after the manner of Beethoven, the choruses followed that of Handel: of plagiarism there was none, and if the work was lacking in experience, it was yet a bold and successful effort for a boy in his teens. In 1856 Mr. Torrance visited Leipsic, and during his studies in that city became acquainted with Moscheles and other eminent musicians. Upon his return he produced an opera 'William of Normandy,' and several minor works, some of which have since been published. In 1859 Mr. Torrance entered the University of Dublin, with a view to studying for the ministry of the Church of England; here he graduated in Arts in 1864, and produced the same year a second oratorio, 'The Captivity,' to Goldsmith's words. He took the degree of M.A. at the University in 1867, was ordained deacon in 1865, and priest in 1866.

In 1869 he emigrated to Melbourne, Victoria. In 1879 he obtained the degrees of Mus. B. and Mus. D. from Dublin University, on the recommendation of Sir Robert Stewart, Professor of Music in the University, the 'Acts' publicly performed for the degree being, for Mus.B. a Te Deum and Jubilate (composed 1878), for Mus.D. a selection from his oratorio 'The Captivity.' He received an honorary degree of Mus.D. ad eundem from the Melbourne University, the first and only degree yet conferred in Music by that University.

In 1882 Dr. Torrance produced a third oratorio, 'The Revelation'; this was performed with great success in Melbourne, the composer conducting. He was elected president of the Fine Arts section of the 'Social Science Congress' held in Melbourne in 1880, when he delivered the opening address on Music, since published. In 1883 he was appointed by the Governor of Victoria to be one of the Examiners for the 'Clarke Scholarship' in the Royal College of Music.

He is also the author of a paper on 'Cathedrals, their constitution and functions,' and is at present Incumbent of Holy Trinity Church, Balaclava, near Melbourne, a handsome new church recently built, with a fine 3-manual organ constructed specially to be played by himself during service.

We believe Dr. Torrance to be the only Doctor of Music in the southern hemisphere—although many able musicians are settled in the principal cities.

[ R. P. S. ]