When the parishioners of Christ Church, Kapunda in 1887 welcomed to South Australia the young British immigrant as their organist and choirmaster, they could not have predicted that E. Harold Davies would achieve an Australia-wide reputation as a leader of the musical profession.
This is the story of a man who wanted to study science or medicine but was apprenticed to an architect, and ended up as the first Australian Doctor of Music. Without mentors, he matriculated and obtained Adelaide University degrees in music and was a leading conductor and music educator. When that university appointed him Professor of Music and Director of the Elder Conservatorium, his first words to students were, ‘I’m not going to spoon feed you’.
Living astride two centuries, EHD, as he was known, was an intriguing mixture of Victorian conservatism and 20th century progressiveness. He instigated the foundation of the South Australian Orchestra. His many ABC broadcasts explored a range of ideas embracing philosophy and sociology in addition to music, and the Federal Government consulted him on the role of the ABC. EHD’s pioneering studies of Aboriginal songs during the expeditions to the Outback resulted in his election as Fellow of the Royal Society of South Australia. His breadth was unique among his musical peers.