William Garnet "Billy" James (28 August 1892 – 10 March 1977) was an Australian pianist and composer and a pioneer of music broadcasting in Australia.
James was born in Ballarat in 1892. He studied piano at the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music, graduating in 1912. On the recommendation of the visiting pianist Teresa Carreño, he headed overseas to study in London and Brussels with Arthur De Greef, a former pupil of Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Saëns.
After being rejected for military service, James worked for the British Red Cross Society during the First World War. In 1915, he made his public debut as a pianist with the Queen's Hall Orchestra. By this time he had begun to publish his compositions, and in 1916 his ballet music By Candlelight was performed in concert at the Savoy Theatre, London.
In 1923 James returned to Australia, eventually taking up a teaching position at the Melbourne University Conservatorium. In the late 1920s, he joined the newly formed Australian Broadcasting Company, the forerunner of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC).
James wrote many pieces for voice, choir and piano, but his most enduring pieces are still his 15 Australian Christmas Carols in three sets, in which traditional Christmas themes were given "outback" settings, such as The Three Drovers.
The sparkling music beautifully fits the words, written by John Wheeler (1901-1984).
I received this very nice carol from our member, "klink," and it is with friendship and pleasure that I dedicate this to him and to "Erzahler", whose fine uploads of some of these carols first made me aware of their existence. THANK YOU, Brian and Andrew!
The score is attached below (you have to "reverse" pages 2 & 3!), as well as a photo of William James.
The complete text is given in the First Comment.
TOMORROW: "Prelude on 'Irby' (Once in royal David's City), Three Christmas Preludes, No. 2" - Candlyn
"The silver stars are in the sky (Australian Carol)" - William James