Education and Arts

“Goodbye ’til next time”: A critical biography of A.E. Floyd (1877-1974), by Dr Ian Burk

A.E. Floyd (1877–1974) had the ability to make music interesting and accessible to the musical public. By the 1940s, he was a household name in Australia particularly as a result of his music broadcasts, which always ended with the words ‘and now I’ll say goodbye ’til next time’. Under his direction, music at St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, enjoyed an international reputation for excellence.

“Goodbye ’til next time”:  A critical biography of A.E. Floyd (1877-1974)
traces the life and work of a colourful, sometimes contradictory and legendary character: his early musical development in the United Kingdom and his subsequent work as cathedral organist, conductor, composer, music critic, broadcaster and educator.

A musicologist, Ian Burk is senior lecturer in music in the School of Arts and Sciences (Vic) at the Australian Catholic University. He is the course co-ordinator for the Bachelor of Creative Arts and lectures on music writing skills, history of music and the program core unit, Music and Spirit.

A graduate of the University of Tasmania, the Royal College of Music, London, and the University of Melbourne, he was a music producer for the ABC, for twelve years organist and master of the choristers at St David's Cathedral, Hobart, and taught at the University of Tasmania. An AMEB examiner, Ian was for several years music consultant and general editor at the AMEB Federal Office.

As a boy in the 1950s Ian used to listen to Floyd’s music broadcasts and as an undergraduate spent an afternoon in 1967 conversing with Floyd. These events triggered an interest in documenting Floyd’s life and work.

Over 80 people attended the launch of the book at the Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne on 5 June 2012. Ormond Professor of Music, Gary McPherson chaired the proceedings and Professor Barry Cunningham, Dean of the Faculty of the VCA and Music, introduced Professor Barry Jones AO who launched the book in his inimitable style. ACU students of the third year BMus Choral conducting class, conducted by Rita Gale and accompanied by Kate Webber performed a part-song by Floyd and the official proceedings ended with an extract of a 1961 ABC recording of Floyd talking about the significance of music. The launch was arranged by the publisher, Lyrebird Press.

According to one reviewer, “Ian Burk has researched widely to provide raw materials for his subject. The book is meticulously written and presented with full documentation provided through copious footnotes.The work paints a vivid picture of Floyd and his musical activities in Britain and Australia. It is well written, highly informative and engaging.“

Ian is presently engaged in writing a biography of the pianist Ronald Farren-Price with the assistance of ACU music honours student, Bronwyn Nicholson. Future projects include an investigation into the religious, political, social, and educational factors which led to the establishment of the English cathedral music tradition in pre-federation Australia, specifically in Melbourne. Similar projects are indicated for ACU students who might be interested in taking their studies in music and, or history further.