Peter Dodds McCormick

Peter Dodds McCormick
Peter Dodds McCormick

Australia’s National Anthem 'Advance Australia Fair' was composed by Peter Dodds McCormick, a former Principal of Five Dock School.

Born in Scotland, Peter McCormick arrived in Australia in 1855, having completed an apprenticeship in joinery. He soon became active in the musical life of the Presbyterian Church in Sydney and worked with children’s choirs. He was employed for many years by the Education Department, becoming the second Headmaster of the Five Dock School when it operated under the control of the Trustees of St Alban’s Church of England, Five Dock. Students recalled that Mr McCormick, known as 'Amicus' ('friend' in Latin) 'could wield the baton to some purpose'.  

In the late 1870s McCormick attended a concert of national anthems and was dismayed by the fact that "there was not one note for Australia". He decided to write his own and began composing a song in his head on the way home in the bus. Thus 'Advance Australia Fair' was born. He composed 'Advance Australia Fair' under the pen-name 'Amicus'. It was first performed in Sydney on St. Andrew’s Day in 1878, however possibly the most significant early performance was at the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, where it was sung by a choir of 10,000. In 1907 the NSW Government awarded McCormick £100 for his composition.  

Peter Dodds McCormick died in 1916 and was buried in Rookwood Cemetery.  In 1974 'Advance Australia Fair' was declared as the national anthem.

Page last updated on: 26/11/12

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