Notable South Australians/John Thomson Hall
John Thomson Hall.
IT is somewhat remarkable that Australia has produced, or attracted to its shores to settle permanently, some of the best musical talent in the world. South Australia especially appears singularly favoured in this respect, and if we review the history of music here from its commencement, quite a galaxy of artists are recalled to memory. Among those who stand forth prominently to our mental vision, John Thomson Hall occupies premier place; a born musician with soul in every touch of his master hand; a genius, pouring forth from his instrument a flood of melody like the songs of British birds at eventide, thrilling the heart with every note. Such was Mr. Hall as we remember him at the Theatre Royal, Adelaide. He was born in Sydney in February, 1841, and commenced to study the violin when but seven years of age. His progress was rapid, for he loved music, like the true poet, for its own sake, and ere he reached his twelfth year, he had played, in public, many difficult solos, such as Ernst's "Carnival de Venice." New South Wales was visited about that time by a distinguished violinist named Caranzani, bearing a noted Italian reputation, and Mr. Hall was placed under him and received lessons for two years, when he joined Winterbottom's orchestra (an orchestra, which, if heard now, would shame many of those which theatrical audiences are compelled to listen to nightly). It consisted of thirty performers, each an artist capable of performing the most difficult compositions, and Mr. Winterbottom, the conductor, was the best bassoon player in the world. Mr. Hall continued playing in orchestra for many years, and at the same time studied theory under that eminent and inspired interpreter of melody, the late Charles Packer. At the age of 24 he was appointed leader in Lyster's Opera Company, occupying that place for nearly five years, when he was elevated to the proud position of Musical Director, and produced some of the grandest operas that have been represented in Australia, viz.—"William Tell," "Emani," and others. About the year 1869 he arrived in Adelaide, and obtained the directorship of the Theatre Royal, and in this he remained until his death, which occurred in December 1883. We have had many musical celebrities here, but the familiar and sweet tones of John Hall's violin gained for him with the public of that day the right to rank as first of all his contemporaries.