Alexander Joseph Leckie, MBE

Alexander Joseph Leckie was born on 31 August 1881 at Newtown, Geelong, Victoria, son of Alexander Veitch Leckie, Scottish-born salesman, and his Geelong-born wife Mary Louisa, née Wright. After state school education in Geelong he found a post with the Geelong Town Council while continuing organ studies with R. J. Shanks in Melbourne.

In 1904 he resigned as assistant town clerk, and as organist of All Saints' Church, Newtown, and went to London to study organ, singing and piano at the Royal College of Music (A.R.C.M., 1906; F.R.C.O., 1907). He was an excellent student although his piano teacher assessed him as 'an earnest and intelligent pupil, but too sceptical and independent. This hinders his progress'.

He returned in 1907 to become organist at St John's, Camberwell, Melbourne. In 1908-17 Leckie succeeded G.A. D'Arcy-Irvine as organist and choirmaster at St George's Anglican Cathedral in Perth. There, on 14 October 1909, he married Hilda Tate. He bought D'Arcy-Irvine's extensive piano-teaching practice and was soon presenting organ and piano recitals with local groups and artists.

In 1910 he became foundation president of the Western Australian Music Teachers' Association; he conducted the Metropolitan Liedertafel (later Gleemen) in 1912-32 and in 1913-23 conducted the Metropolitan Orchestral Society which he had founded. In 1918 he extended his choral activities with the formation of the Perth Ladies Choir, which he re-formed in 1932 as the Oriana Ladies Choir and directed until 1946.

The honorary representative of the Royal College of Music in Perth, Leckie had in 1913 gained his Mus. Bac. from the University of Adelaide. He had a long association with the University of Western Australia as president of the University Music Society, examiner for the Australian Music Examinations Board and as founder and conductor of the University Choral Society (1931-45). He also gave university extension lectures in the 1930s and in the newly formed department of music in 1954.

Perceiving the musical potential of radio early in its development, Leckie was musical director of 6WF in the late 1920s. He later gave talks for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in programmes such as the Argonauts' Club and Catherine King's Women's Session in addition to performing in chamber music groups such as the Amati Trio.

Leckie's major contribution to music in Western Australia lay in his performances; his encouragement of amateurs and local music-making, both instrumental and choral; and in his dedication to raising programming and teaching standards. He translated a number of Hugo Wolf's songs and wrote several musical perception texts for the A.M.E.B. syllabus. He gave his pupils a firm foundation for development in singing and keyboard.

His quiet sense of humour, neat turn of phrase and open mind helped him to foster the development of music in the State. In 1963 he was appointed M.B.E. Predeceased by his wife, Leckie died in Perth on 17 September 1966 and was cremated. Two daughters and a son survived him.

From an article by Brian Pope in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au.