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Glass, Dudley Jack (1899–1981)

by Peter Campbell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Dudley Jack Glass (1899-1981), composer, pianist and author, was born on 24 September 1899 in North Adelaide, only child of Philip Joseph Glass, waterproof-garment manufacturer, and his wife Jeannie Golda, née Glass. Barnet Glass [q.v.9] was his grandfather. Dudley attended Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, studied composition with Fritz Hart at the Albert Street Conservatorium, East Melbourne, for two terms in 1918, and graduated (BA, 1920) from the University of Melbourne. Already a prolific composer and lyricist, in July 1925 Glass secured the performance of his Australia, Land of Ours in a pageant marking the visit of the United States Pacific Fleet; this anthem was adopted by the New South Wales and Victorian Education departments for use in schools. Later that year he travelled to London, via New York, as the Melbourne Herald’s musical and dramatic correspondent, and settled there.

Developing extensive networks, Glass was soon composing musical plays and light operas. The most successful, The Beloved Vagabond, opened in London in 1927; its Australian première at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne, in 1934, starred Gladys Moncrieff and George Wallace. Other works included The Toymaker of Nuremberg (1930); an adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1951), produced in New York in 1961; and Drake of England (1953)—for which he provided the music and lyrics—broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to coincide with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. He also wrote English lyrics for A Night in Venice by Johann Strauss. Other compositions included musical revues, an unperformed opera, over a hundred songs (including settings of nonsense poems by Edward Lear and Hilaire Belloc, and, in 1940, the patriotic The Empire is Marching) and an orchestral piece, Will-o’-the-Wisp (1928).

Glass often returned to Australia to attend performances of his work and to undertake the broadcasting and lecturing commitments that became an integral part of his career. With an engaging manner and `business-like air’ (so the Sydney Morning Herald noted in 1934), he had a keen sense of what would entertain. Always versatile, in 1933 he had published the first of two children’s books, Round the World with the Redhead Twins. In 1937 he published two works reflecting his extensive travel: The Book about the British Empire and Australian Fantasy. During World War II he gave more than a thousand performances in Britain as a pianist and speaker for the Army Education Corps. After the war he increasingly devoted his time to similar activities, making lecture tours of the United States of America and lecturing in Britain for the London County Council, the Imperial Institute, the Royal Empire Society, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Society of Arts. He also gave regular talks for the British Broadcasting Corporation and the ABC.

`Still an Australian’, as Glass insisted in 1960, he was an untiring ambassador and educator for his country. He was a widely published theatre and arts critic, writing for Everybody’s Weekly and, from 1964, the Irish Times. A member of the Savage Club, PEN International and the Royal Commonwealth Society, Dudley Glass never married. He died at Lambeth, London, on 29 November 1981 after being struck by a bus near the British Library, which he visited almost daily.

Select Bibliography

  • Journal (Australian Jewish Historical Society), vol 10, no 5, 1989, p 399
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Aug 1934, p 12
  • Herald (Melbourne), 3 Oct 1956, p 18
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 9 July 1960, p 13
  • Glass papers (National Library of Australia).

Citation details

Peter Campbell, 'Glass, Dudley Jack (1899–1981)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/glass-dudley-jack-12546/text22583, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 24 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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