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The Australian National Anthem & Waltzing Matilda arranged for Brass Quintet.
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The original song Advance Australia Fair was composed by Peter Dodds McCormick under the pen-name ’Amicus’ (which means ’friend’ in Latin), in the late 19th century, and first performed by Andrew Fairfax at a Highland Society function in Sydney on 30 November 1878. The song quickly gained popularity and an amended version was sung by a choir of 10,000 at the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. In 1907 the Australian Government awarded McCormick £100 for his composition.
In a letter to R. B. Fuller Esq., dated 1 August 1913, McCormick described the circumstances that inspired him to write Advance Australia Fair:
One night I attended a great concert in the Exhibition Building, when all the National Anthems of the world were to be sung by a large choir with band accompaniment. This was very nicely done, but I felt very aggravated that there was not one note for Australia. On the way home in a bus, I concocted the first verse of my song & when I got home I set it to music. I first wrote it in the Tonic Sol-fa notation, then transcribed it into the Old Notation, & I tried it over on an instrument next morning, & found it correct. Strange to say there has not been a note of it altered since. Some alteration has been made in the wording, but the sense is the same. It seemed to me to be like an inspiration, & I wrote the words & music with the greatest ease.
Before its adoption as Australia’s national anthem, Advance Australia Fair saw considerable use elsewhere. For example, Australia’s national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, used it to announce its news bulletins until 1952. It was also frequently played at the start or end of official functions. Towards the end of World War II, it was played in picture theatres after "God Save the Queen" and the American national anthem.
"Waltzing Matilda" is Australia’s best-known bush ballad, and has been described as the country’s "unofficial national anthem".
The title was Australian slang for travelling on foot (waltzing, derived from the German auf der Walz) with one’s belongings in a "matilda" (swag) slung over one’s back. The song narrates the story of an itinerant worker, or "swagman", making a drink of billy tea at a bush camp and capturing a jumbuck (sheep) to eat. When the jumbuck’s owner, a squatter (wealthy landowner), and three mounted policemen pursue the swagman, he commits suicide by drowning himself in a nearby billabong (watering hole), after which his ghost haunts the site.
The original lyrics were written in 1895 by Australian poet Banjo Paterson, and were first published as sheet music in 1903. Extensive folklore surrounds the song and the process of its creation, to the extent that it has its own museum, the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, Queensland, where Paterson wrote the lyrics. In 2012, to remind Australians of the song’s significance, Winton organised the inaugural Waltzing Matilda Day to be held on 6 April, the anniversary of its first performance.
The song was first recorded in 1926 as performed by John Collinson and Russell Callow. In 2008, this recording of "Waltzing Matilda" was added to the Sounds of Australia registry in the National Film and Sound Archive which says that there are more recordings of "Waltzing Matilda" than any other Australian song.