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William Richard (Bill) Cade (1883–1957)

by Joyce Gibberd

This article was published:

William Richard (Bill) Cade (1883-1957), musician, was born on 30 June 1883 in Adelaide, son of William Cade, coach-painter, and his wife Esther, née Perkins. Educated at Pulteney Street School and the Elder Conservatorium of Music (1899-1909) where his violin teacher was Hermann Heinicke, in 1904 Bill won the (Sir) George Brookman prize for the best performance on a stringed instrument. He excelled as a soloist (violin and viola), played in chamber-music ensembles and orchestras, and gave private lessons. In 1910 he studied at the Conservatorium Der Musik von Max Pohl in Berlin and next year was leader of the Quinlan Opera Company's orchestra in England.

Returning home, on 1 May 1912 Cade married a New Zealander Gladys Irene Muriel Odell at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Adelaide. From that year until 1928 he was associated with J. C. Williamson Ltd and, in the meantime, conducted for the original (and from 1913 for the new) Wondergraph Picture Theatres. Appointed musical director of the Theatre Royal in 1916, he discreetly introduced music of more substance, even movements from symphonies, and performed violin solos from the pit. In 1928 Hoyts opened a new cinema, the Regent Theatre; Cade became musical director of its seventeen-piece orchestra after resigning as leader of the South Australian Orchestra, a post he had held since 1920. Moving to Melbourne in 1929, he conducted over seven thousand performances as musical director of the Regent and Plaza theatres' orchestras; he succeeded Joseph Slapoffski as conductor of the Victorian Professional Symphony Orchestra's eighty players.

Back in Adelaide, in 1935 Cade joined the Australian Broadcasting Commission for which he formed a broadcasting orchestra. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Celebrity Orchestral Concerts were inaugurated next year, with him as resident conductor. Cade was a sympathetic and popular conductor who blended self-confidence and modesty. Good-looking, with expressive eyes and slicked-back hair, he made a ritual of each concert entrance: a brisk walk on, a step to the podium, a bow, arms outstretched to the applauding audience. He appeared with visiting artists, prepared the augmented Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for conductors from interstate and abroad (once confiding that he felt his own lack of a European name), and fulfilled engagements in capital cities throughout Australia. In 1929 he had formed the Adelaide Wireless Chorus (later Adelaide Singers). He also directed studio broadcasts of operas and musical comedies, conducted the Adelaide Light Orchestra, organized the Students Training Orchestra and Schools' Orchestral concerts, and made recordings.

Following his retirement in 1948, Cade was appointed an honorary life member (1949) of the Musicians' Union of Australia. He continued with the A.B.C. as a presentation officer until 1955 and for relaxation enjoyed motoring, golf and gardening. Survived by his wife and three daughters, he died on 4 August 1957 at his Erindale home and was cremated. James Glennon said that there were no 'dynamic sforzandoes' in Cade's life, 'only a consistent crescendo in a fruitful career'.

Select Bibliography

  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 5 Sept 1913, 23 June 1928
  • J. Glennon, Personalities Remembered (radio talk, 5CL, 7 Nov 1971, State Library of South Australia)
  • Performing Arts Collection, Adelaide Festival Centre Trust
  • newsclippings, Document Archives, ABC, Sydney
  • private information.

Citation details

Joyce Gibberd, 'Cade, William Richard (Bill) (1883–1957)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 22 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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