Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Streeten, Edgar Robert (1881–1943)

by Betty Cosgrove

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Edgar Robert Streeten (1881-1943), Anglican clergyman and musician, was born on 21 November 1881 at Ealing, London, son of George Abbott Streeten, barrister, and his wife Anne Charlotte, née Kuhr. From the age of 10 Edgar was a chorister at King's College, Cambridge. He attended King's College Choir School and Aldenham Grammar School, Elstree, Hertfordshire, where he was awarded an exhibition. Entering King's College (B.A., 1904; M.A. 1910), he read classics and presided (1904) over the King's and 3rd Trinity Athletic Club. On 24 December 1905 he was made deacon and on 24 February 1907 he was ordained priest. In 1905-10 he served as curate at St Faith's Church, Brentford, Middlesex. He sailed for Queensland in 1910 to join St Andrew's Bush Brotherhood in the diocese of Rockhampton and ministered at Winton, Longreach, Emerald, Anakie and Barcaldine.

In 1912 Bishop George Halford recalled Streeten to Rockhampton to be precentor at St Paul's Cathedral. On 3 November 1914 Streeten married Valentine Bayldon Allen at the cathedral. Returning to England in the following year, he held a curacy at St John the Baptist with All Saints Church, Windsor, Berkshire, before going to France in 1916 as chaplain with the 1st Cavalry Brigade, British Expeditionary Force. While there, he composed a musical setting for Psalm 124: 'If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say'.

Back at Rockhampton in 1919, Streeten rejoined the staff of St Paul's Cathedral. In 1921 he resigned to teach music privately, and was appointed cathedral organist. He retained his licence to officiate as a priest of the diocese, and sat on the diocesan board of missions (1922-25) and the diocesan council (1924-27). A teacher of instrumental music, singing and elocution, he also taught singing-in-unison as an art form quite separate from that of the soloist. By 1932 his students had won more than three hundred first prizes at Queensland eisteddfods; several of his pupils went on to study and perform in London and Europe.

From 1921 Streeten was honorary conductor of the Rockhampton Musical Union choir. By 1928 he had formed the Rockhampton Musical Union orchestra; he conducted it until 1936 when the orchestra was restructured as a separate part of the Musical Union. He was respected by students, choir and orchestra, not only for his dedication to musical accomplishment and his fine voice, but also for his ability to inspire discipline and practice until near perfection was achieved. In the 1920s and 1930s he produced, arranged and conducted Musical Union presentations that included the comic opera Boccaccio, the light opera Les Cloches de Corneville and a romantic musical play, The Vagabond King. His wife Valentine and their young son Edward were talented sopranos. She sang with the Musical Union choir and the family performed as a trio at Rockhampton recitals.

Survived by his wife and their son, Streeten died of a cerebral haemorrhage on 16 September 1943 at Barcaldine and was buried at Gracemere station, the home of the Archer family. A stained-glass window dedicated to his memory is in St Paul's Cathedral, Rockhampton.

Select Bibliography

  • L. McDonald, Rockhampton (Brisb, 1981)
  • P. Wright, The Music History of Rockhampton (Rockhampton, Qld, 1990)
  • Church of England, Diocese of Rockhampton Synod, Proceedings, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1927, 1942, 1943
  • private information.

Citation details

Betty Cosgrove, 'Streeten, Edgar Robert (1881–1943)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/streeten-edgar-robert-11791/text21093, published in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 31 July 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

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