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Doctor Ruby Davy

History Doctor Ruby Davey 1

Who is Doctor Ruby Davy?

Ruby Davy was born in Salisbury in 1883 and went on to become Australia’s first woman Doctor of Music in 1918. She studied violin, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, kettle drums. In 1939 she embarked on a tour of England and America. If you would like to know more, come and check out the Ruby Davy display on level 1 of the Salisbury Community Hub.

Biographical Details

Doctor Ruby Davy, Australia's first Woman Doctor of Music was born at Salisbury on November 22, 1883. The only child of the late William Charles and Louisa Jane Davy, and the direct descendant (on her mother's side) of the Earl of Litchfield. At the age of five years she improvised melodies, and when she was seven, composed short pieces with romantic titles. At nine years she wrote a Cantata. Two years later she won a scholarship for senior pianoforte playing, and at 12 years gained the Dux prize at the Salisbury Public School. At 13 years she began teaching and had 27 pupils. At 14 years she won the prize for the best Elocutionist at the Literary Society's Annual Entertainment in the Salisbury Institute. She passed university and Trinity College examinations from junior to senior grades, both practical and theoretical, with high honors. She matriculated, passing in English literature, history, physical geography, and German.

As a Teacher

At 13 years she began teaching and had 27 pupils. Successful concerts were given by students of the Davy School of Music in the Salisbury Institute Hall in the years 1908, 1909 and 1915, in Victoria Hall, Adelaide in 1910, at the school of Music Prospect in 1920, and in the Adelaide Town Hall in 1922. Students successes included an exhibition, a national prize and gold and silver medals. In 1924, Dr Davy surpassed all previous records, gaining 108 successes in individual subjects (music and elocution). In 1923, Dr Davy secured a record for South Australia in gaining three L.A.B. (solo performers) diplomas in one year. Two were pianists and the other a vocalist. This result had not been previously secured in South Australia by any other teacher. In 1924 she again secured three L.A.B. diplomas, candidates from her studio gaining it as solo performers of concert standard in pianoforte. She was the only teacher to pass a candidate for a diploma of Trinity College in violin playing in that year. During 1923 a vocal record for South Australia was secured by one of Dr Davy's pupils, and in 1924 an elocutionary record was gained by another of her students. Dr Davy in the year 1920 was appointed to the staff of the Elder Conservatorium of Music (University of Adelaide) as a teacher of music theory. During her term of office a large number of Conservatorium students most successfully passed their examinations.

As a Composer

At the age of five years her genius for composition began to assert itself, for she had to her credit numerous romantic pieces for pianoforte, and at nine years she had completed a Cantata. Among her most outstanding works are:

  • A setting of the Nunc Dimittis for chorus, solo voices and organ, and a setting of the Magnificat for solo voices, chorus, quintet of strings and organ accompaniment
  • 'Sister Beatrice', a musical setting to Maurice Maeterlinck's miracle play
  • Oratorio, 'Hymn of Praise', for double choir, solo voice, full orchestra and organ
  • Symphony in C Minor for full orchestra
  • Pianoforte Quartet
  • Pianoforte Trio
  • String Quartet
  • Overture in B Flat
  • Violin solos, including 'Barcarolle' (published by Allan's) and numerous songs and pianoforte soli
  • Centenary composition, 'Australia Fair and Free' for chorus and orchestra (published by Allan's).
History Doctor Ruby Davey 2

Doctor Ruby Davy

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