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Moss, Sydney (1854–1902)

from Sydney Morning Herald

It was with general expressions of regret that the news of the death of Mr. Sydney Moss, the well-known musician, was received in the city yesterday morning. The deceased gentleman had been in indifferent health for some weeks, and about a week ago became so unwell that he consulted Dr Fiaschi, who attended him up to the time of his death, which occurred somewhat suddenly on Wednesday night, about 11 o'clock, at his residence, Kaloola, 66 Pitt Street, North Sydney. During Wednesday, though far from well, there were no indications of his approaching end, and his sister, Miss Carrie Moss, with whom he resided, left him in seemingly good health to attend the Amateur Orchestral Society's concert at the Town Hall. Upon returning to her home about 11 o'clock she was shocked to find him lying in the bathroom in a critical condition, death taking place before medical assistance arrived.

Mr Moss was a native of Sydney, and a son of Mr Lewis Moss, an accomplished musician, who carried on business in Hunter-street in the house where deceased was born. His early education was directed in Sydney, but at the age of 10 years young Moss, who exhibited unusual musical ability, was sent to Leipzic, where he studied for about nine years. Mr Moss then returned to Sydney, where he at once commenced teaching, and rapidly occupied a prominent position in the musical community of the city. At the time of his death Mr. Moss was 48 years of age and was a single man.

By the death of this eminently cultivated musician. Sydney loses one of the most important, as he was one of the least obtrusive, of her artists. Mr. Sydney Moss was one of the most valuable of Australian artists because he added to a great love for his native country a keen appreciation of the advantages and the experience to be gained away from it. Whilst always forwarding the cause of music in our midst, he did so from a broad artistic standpoint, avoided hostile camps and, to quote one illustration out of many, as cheerfully subscribed to the Italian opera season as to that in which German works chiefly figured. Educated as he was during the long period of nine years in Germany, he had many youthful associations with Leipsic which drew him to it. ln this way he made several visits to the Continent of Europe, during one of which he was travelling for nearly two years. His work in Sydney may be said to have begun about a generation ago with the Sydney Musical Union, a choral and orchestral society which he conducted in a whole repertoire of classical works, chiefly oratorio. Somewhere about the year 1883 this society ceased to exist, and Mr Moss then joined heartily in furthering the interests of the present Sydney Philharmonic Society. Herr Max Vogrich conducted Schumann's "Paradise and the Peri" for the opening concert, M. Henri Kowalski then directed affairs for a few years and Signor Roberto Hazon for the first time took up the baton during the Santley season of 1887. During this time Mr Moss never ceased to assist the Philharmonic with his friendly advice, and when Signor Hazon revisited Italy in 1895 he not only replaced him as conductor, but also presented the society with £60 from the salary due to him. Mr. Moss was, indeed, in every way a generous and devoted friend to the cause of music in Australia. For some time past Mr. Moss was a vice-president both of the Philharmonic Society and the Sydney Amateur Orchestral Society. The latter he conducted for an entire twelvemonth, ending last February, in order to assist his friend, Signor Hazon who, without such help, might have hesitated to conduct Mr. Williamson's Italian Opera Company. Mr. Moss proved as able as ever as temporary head of affairs, and was warmly thanked for his services by all concerned. To the deceased musician also fell the honour of conductorship on two great occasions. One of these was at the Commonwealth celebrations performance of "The Messiah" and the other was at the state concert before the Duke and Duchess of York at the Town Hall last year. During a considerable portion of his career he directed the music at the Great Synagogue, of the congregation of which he was an esteemed member.

Now we must say something of his talents as a pianist and teacher. His pianoforte style was remarkable for its technical neatness and artistic refinement. He had a sparkling touch and a great knowledge of traditional readings, and could at all times be heard both with pleasure and profit to the attentive listener. Mr. Moss was also much to the front in the cause of chamber music. During 1887-8-9, when much good work was done by the Orpheus Club, Mr. Moss played from time to time with the string quartet, consisting of Messrs. Rivers Allpress, Albert Wentzel, H. H. Rice, and the late Edgar Strauss. A few years ago, when Mr. F. Aengenheyster organised the Pleyel Quartet, consisting of Messrs. Henri Staell, F. M. Carter, Alfred Hill, and Gerard Vollmar, Mr. Sydney Moss was chosen as the first solo pianist, a post subsequently filled by Signor De Beaupuis, Miss Jessie Middleton, and other artists. Mr. Moss was concerned chiefly in renderings of trios and quartets by Schumann, in Dvorak's piano quartet, and in Brahm's piano quartet. One of his later appearances on the concert platform, which he was gradually resigning, as his professional cares increased, was in association with Mark Hambourg, at whose wish he supplied the orchestral part to various concertos on a second piano.

Mention of the young Russian star pianist recalls another side of the deceased's character. He was of a hospitable nature, very kind to all young artists, and formed friendships with young Mark Hambourg and his brother Jakoff, with Miss Adela Verne, Miss Evangeline Florence, Miss Jessie King, and Jean Gerardy. Being to some extent of independent means, he was able to entertain distinguished visitors very pleasantly. One of the more recent of these functions, at which his sister always presided as hostess, was a harbour picnic to Miss Jessie King, the English contralto, and last year he gave a supper in honour of Jean Gerardy. These and similar occasions formed a rallying point at which the leading artists of Sydney could meet from time to time on a friendly footing, and were much appreciated by them, and by the press critics who were invited at the same time. Thoroughly educated as he was in his art, Mr Moss was singularly well informed upon the literature of music, and had the careers of all the great artists of the day and of the great composers of the past at his fingers' ends. His removal by death will be mourned by pupils in many parts of the world. One of the most distinguished, Mr. F. Barron Morley, is now on his way back here for a brief holiday after a successful concert tour in the United States.

Signor Hazon, as an old personal friend of the deceased, was deeply moved when the sad news reached him. In the evening when the Philharmonic Society met for practice under his baton the members at once adjourned. The funeral, we are informed, will leave Kaloola at 12.45 to-day, joining the 2.23 train at the Mortuary Station, Redfern, for Rookwood.

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'Moss, Sydney (1854–1902)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/moss-sydney-20235/text31290, accessed 26 September 2018.

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