Dr William George Price

Born at Newport in Essex, England in 1865 into a family of organists, William George Price was the son of William Price, who was the Organist of the Parish Church in Spalding, Lincolnshire. 

After early musical studies, W.G. Price was appointed Organist of the Holbeach Parish Church at the age of 16.  He was then appointed Assistant Organist of Ely Cathedral, where he trained under Dr Edmund Thomas Chipp – one of England’s most revered organists and composers.  He received his Bachelor of Music from Oxford in 1886 at the age of 21 and gained his Doctorate of Music from Oxford in 1895. 

He held several appointments in Ireland, including the prestigious position of Organist of St George’s Church, Belfast and he was also Organist to the Belfast Philharmonic Society.  However, his most important position in Ireland was that of Belfast City Organist where his regular concerts at the Ulster Hall were attended by audiences of over 2000. 

In 1906, Price immigrated to Australia to take the position of Melbourne City Organist – initially for one year with the possibility of extension.  He was appointed to the position on the recommendation of Sir Frederick Bridge, Organist of Westminster Abbey and Thomas H. Collinson, Organist of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.

In May 1907, Dr W.G. Price’s appointment as Melbourne City Organist was made permanent, and over the following 23 years he performed over one thousand recitals in the Melbourne Town Hall.  

As Melbourne City Organist, Price was Consultant for the new Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ following the destruction of the previous instrument, and hall, by fire in 1925.  He performed the Public and Private Opening Concerts on the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ in 1929 before retiring from the position of Melbourne City Organist in 1930.     

He also held the position of Organist and Director of Music of St John’s Church, Toorak from 1912 until 1916.  During his time at Toorak he was Consultant for the building of the 1913 William Hill & Son organ which, following a reconstructive restoration, remains the largest 20th century Hill organ in Australia.  

Dr Price also served on the staff of the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, giving advanced instruction in counterpoint, canon and fugue. 

In addition to his position as Melbourne City Organist, Dr Price was well known as a recitalist and teacher throughout Australasia and was one of the country’s most celebrated musicians; for nearly half a century he gave inaugural recitals and regular performances on Australia’s finest instruments. 

His concert programmes, which included a mix of original organ compositions and transcriptions, were much admired and he was known and respected as a vital part of the Australian musical establishment. 

Dr W.G. Price lived on a large property in what is now Warrigal Road in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh for many years and continued to practice on the pedal piano in his home for several hours a day until his death on 15 January 1952.  

From an article by Thomas Heywood in Organists' Review, UK.