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Beaumont, Edward Armes (1842–1913)

by Kenneth Hince

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Edward Armes Beaumont (1842-1913), vocalist, was born on 15 December 1842 at St Faith's, Norfolk, England, son of Edward Beaumont, veterinary surgeon, and his wife Sarah Hannah, née Lack. He went with his family to Melbourne in 1848, was educated at a private school and became a shipping clerk. Despite legends that he was 'discovered' as a singer either in England or Hobart Town by William Lyster, Beaumont gained his first knowledge of music in the choir of the Brunswick Street Wesleyan Chapel. His first public performance was in 1861 as solo tenor in Handel's Messiah, presented at the Christmas concert of the Melbourne Musical Union. Soon afterwards he was offered a musical and dramatic training by Fred Lyster but he declined and in November 1862 joined the French instrumentalists, Poussard and Douay, in a concert tour of South Australia and New Zealand. At Sydney in November 1863 he made his first operatic appearance as Thaddeus in Balfe's The Bohemian Girl, and then joined Fred Lyster's opera company as an articled pupil. His first role in Melbourne with the company was in 1864 in Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment. In the following years his reputation grew as he increased the range of his operatic work, singing mostly, but not entirely, in the lighter and more lyrical tenor roles of current French and Italian operas. He recognized the limitations imposed by his lack of training and never sought to go beyond himself.

In March 1867 Beaumont lost an eye after a shooting accident and was dangerously ill for weeks. A benefit concert in May yielded over £500 and before the year ended he recovered sufficiently to sing the principal tenor role in Rossini's William Tell on twelve successive nights. In 1868 he travelled with Fred Lyster's opera company to America and after it disbanded stayed in San Francisco for eighteen months. In 1870 he joined William Lyster's company in Melbourne and, without relaxing his work in opera, turned increasingly to concert singing. At the opening of the Melbourne Town Hall he made his first appearance with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society; in this choir he later made a record by singing sixty-seven times in solo parts. In the 1870s he continued to tour in the Australian colonies and in New Zealand with the company. William Lyster died in 1880, leaving Beaumont ample provision in his will. When the bequest became 'mere wreckage' in the depression of 1890, Beaumont formed his own concert party and toured the Australasian colonies. His public appearances ended in 1894 and he took up teaching with much success. In 1910 his friends organized a benefit concert to celebrate the jubilee of his professional career. He died unmarried at his home in North Melbourne on 17 July 1913.

Select Bibliography

  • H. M. Humphreys (ed), Men of the Time in Australia: Victorian Series (Melb, 1882)
  • Australasian, 2, 9, 16 Mar, 11 May 1867
  • Argus (Melbourne), 18 July 1913.

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Kenneth Hince, 'Beaumont, Edward Armes (1842–1913)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/beaumont-edward-armes-2960/text4307, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 22 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

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