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Allan's Music

This firm of music retailers and publishers, in its heyday the meeting place for Melbourne's musical fraternity, was established by George Leavis Allan (1826-97). Allan arrived in Melbourne in 1852, was instrumental in the foundation of the Melbourne Philharmonic Society, and was a pioneer singing teacher at the Mechanics Institute, Methodist Ladies' College and Melbourne Grammar School. In 1863 he joined Joseph Wilkie and John Webster at their Collins Street musical warehouse on the present site of the Block, becoming sole proprietor in 1875. With his son George Clark Allan, he formed Allan & Co. in 1881. The firm moved in 1877 to new three-storey premises nearby, boasting a grand saloon seating 500, a piano showroom, and teaching rooms where opera singer Nellie Melba had lessons from Signor Cecchi. A fire at the adjacent Georges building in 1889 damaged the store, which in 1955 was destroyed by another blaze. A new building reopened in 1957. Allan & Co. had close associations with visiting artists, and was renowned for its publication of sheet music. In 1932 a company formed by Allans, David Syme (publishers of the Age) and J.C. Williamson's was granted a radio broadcasting licence for 3AW (standing for Allans/Williamsons). In 1942 Allans purchased Will Andrade's magic business, running it as a depot of their store. In 1976 the company was taken over by Brash Holdings, and the instrument sales department emerged from the liquidation of Brash's as a separate company in 1998.

Andrew May

Game, Peter, The music sellers, Hawthorn Press, Melbourne, 1976. Details