Virtuosi from the Australian Big Scrub: Australia, Empire and the Meaning of Musical Journeys in the Long 19th Century

Jennifer Gall


Born in the 1890s in Brushgrove near Grafton, Northern NSW, Lena and Maggie Chisholm undertook their musical training for examination by London Trinity College first at the Roman Catholic College at Brushgrove, then at St Mary’s Presentation Convent in Lismore. In 1902, Maggie Chisholm, aged 11, was ranked second in the Trinity list of piano examinations throughout Australia and abroad, winning the W.H. Paling’s gold medal in Grafton. In 1920, the Maharajah of Tagore presented Lena with a gold medal as the London Royal College of Music’s most brilliant student. She also won the Royal College prize for best string player of 1920. While the Chisholm sisters received European recognition in the early years of the twentieth century after graduating from the Royal College of Music, their success was also influenced by the nurturing cultural environment and the outstanding musical education they received at the Presentation Convent; a standard of tuition established with the convent’s foundation in 1886. 


Maggie Chisholm;

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