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The early development of Queensland's musical culture has only been partly documented. Despite a number of general surveys and a few specialist publications in recent decades, the largest body of research, dating mostly from the 1970s and 1980s in the form of academic dissertations, remains unpublished. As I demonstrated in a recent article for this journal, the narrative of Queensland's music can be traced in various ways, including focusing either on a specific organisation or ‘cause’ – phenomena that in turn interface with the efforts of countless individuals. An alternative strategy is to survey a specific genre of music-making, where likewise a diverse range of performers, repertoire, venues and events are part of the mix. This article endeavours to trace the development of chamber music in colonial Queensland as an important subset of an active concert life that included numerous popular entertainers, touring artists and musical-theatrical troupes. Support of chamber music, a so-called ‘high-class’ genre, was also viewed by some colonists as an emblem or barometer of increasing cultural self-worth, particularly in the two decades leading up to Federation.
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