Current research involves 

i   A major study of the early composers in NZ’s distant past, centred around those who wrote for piano.

Initial studies involved searching libraries and archives for the piano music written in New Zealand in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, then searching for information on the composers.  A volume of 54 of the easier  pieces – Living Echoes: The First 150 Years of Piano Music from New Zealand – was published in 2014 for Sunrise Music Trust along with a little of the biographical material.

The interest stirred up by this volume led to a long illustrated lecture on the subject of our early composers, including the performance of many of the more interesting old works for piano, some now available in Living Echoes, but also many other works  as yet unpublished. This presentation entitled Prodigies and Prostitutes: The Unexpected World of Piano Music in Early New Zealand has been requested repeatedly during 2015 for conferences and in the major universities of New Zealand.

The text of this lecture may be read or downloaded as a pdf   - HERE

Two videos
(Parts I and II) of the first presentation, given to the IRMT (Institute of Registered Music Teachers of NZ) National Conference in February 2015, may be viewed :


The intense interest shown in this subject – finding our musical ancestors – has confirmed my intention to expand the material into a book on the subject. Research into nearly forty composers and their piano works is expected to be completed during 2016. The book will contain biographical materials on the composers, discussion of their works for piano, illustrations, photos of manuscript pages, and stories told by their students or descendants or from contemporary newspapers. The criterion for including composers  in the study is the perceived quality of their extant music.

A companion volume of the music will also be published, with CDs of the music attached in the back of the volume.


(ii)   A secondary but related study is of the complete works for solo piano of Paul Schramm, a Viennese-born composer and pianist who lived in New Zealand from 1938 to 1947.

There is a wonderful archive of manuscripts held in the Alexander Turnbull Library which needs further exploration. A handful of the solo piano pieces was published in Living Echoes. There are many dozens more, sometimes in several versions, many with pencilled corrections in tiny hand-writing on foxed and sepia-toned MS paper. All are scintillating, jazzy, passionate, and some illustrate life in Indonesia where he had lived for 5 years after his sudden departure from Germany in 1933. All need to be known: I plan to typeset and publish the complete piano works.

designed and developed by Martin Wagner