George Robert Grant Pringle
Born in London in 1833, George Robert Grant 'G.R.G.' Pringle - the son of a professor of music - arrived in Melbourne on 27 June 1857 onboard the Algiers.
He was Organist of St Andrew's Brighton until 1859 when he was appointed to St Peter's Church, Eastern Hill, Melbourne at a salary of £100 p.a. until 1865.
On Monday 24 June 1861 at 2.00 pm, G.R.G. Pringle performed the opening concert on the Brindley organ in the People's Hall of the Mechanics Institute in Launceston, Tasmania - the first concert organ installed outside the United Kingdom.
The critics wrote "It is almost unnecessary to say that the performance of Mr Pringle, who is the leading organist in Melbourne, was admirable; and those present certainly enjoyed a rich treat in listening to such selections from the great masters so beautifully rendered."
This landmark concert was not only the first public performance on a concert organ in Australasia, but the first public performance on any concert organ outside the United Kingdom.
The Australian and New Zealand College of Organists was founded on 24 June 2011 to mark the 150th Anniversary of that occasion and to build the future for the pipe organ in Australasia.
At the end of April 1868, G.R.G. Pringle resigned from St Peter's Church, Melbourne - frustrated in his efforts to improve the old organ at St Peter's - and accepted the 'more lucrative post' of Organist and Director of Music at the Cathedral Church of St Francis, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, where he began on 3 May 1868. He had alterations and additions made to the organ, which was re-opened on 5 April 1869; a contemporary account described: "as an exhibition of the magnificent qualities of the organ, of Pringle's skill as an organist, the musical festival was one of high excellence."
Pringle gave many recitals and opened several organs, was a strong supporter of the organ builders in Victoria, and did much toward the study, practice and encouragement of music in Melbourne; many gifted organists were among his pupils. He took part in the programme for the opening of the Melbourne Town Hall on 9 August 1870, and in concerts for charities and entertainment.
Late in 1870, Pringle left for Europe with his wife and four young children. He went to Leipzig, Germany, to further his musical studies, but died there of brain fever in January 1873 at the age of 40.
Evidence of the regard he inspired can be seen in the fact that the musical public of Melbourne organised benefit concerts for his widow and children.