Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Charles Arthur Jarman (1882–1968)

by David R. Cole

This article was published:

Charles Arthur Jarman (1882-1968), organist and composer, was born on 7 April 1882 at Macdonaldtown, Sydney, sixth child of John Shapley Jarman, a commercial traveller from England, and his native-born wife Elizabeth, née Biddles. Charles learned the piano in childhood, composed his first anthem for full choir at the age of 14, and qualified as an associate and licentiate in music. As a young man he was interim city organist at Sydney Town Hall. On 1 August 1906 he married Linda Pearl Dumbrell at the Methodist Church, Bulli.

Living at Bathurst by 1909, Jarman was organist and choirmaster at All Saints Anglican Cathedral. He also taught music at his studio in Howick Street and was associated with cathedral music at Goulburn. In 1912 he founded the Bathurst Philharmonic Choir which gained second place that year in the South Street competitions at Ballarat, Victoria. Among his compositions was a setting of In Exitu Israel (Psalm CXIV) for chorus and orchestra, and for which he is said to have been awarded a doctorate of music by 'the English senate of the Intercollegiate University' in 1918. He often composed at the piano during the night and had the disconcerting habit of rousing family members from their beds to hear his latest inspiration.

In 1919 Jarman moved to Singleton to take the post of organist and choirmaster at All Saints Anglican Church. Its organ 'gave him more pleasure to play than any other'. From 1922 he held similar appointments in Sydney churches, at St Clement's, Marrickville, and St Peter's, Neutral Bay. While in England in 1924-25 and 1926-27, he is reported to have given recitals in London at the Crystal Palace and Queen's Hall, and to have performed in the presence of Queen Mary at the parish church of St Dunstan-in-the-West.

Back in Australia, Jarman was city organist at Launceston, Tasmania, for five years before returning to Sydney in 1933. He remained there (except for 1938-40 when he was at Armidale), worked at St Stephen's, Willoughby, St Mark's, Darling Point, and other suburban churches, and trained a public-service choir. In the mid-1940s he again went to Singleton. Extending his influence farther up the Hunter Valley, in 1945-53 he made weekly visits to St Luke's Anglican Church, Scone, to train the parish choir and teach the organ. Wherever he went, his pupils admired him and he brought out the best in them. He left for Sale, Victoria, in the mid-1950s and was then in Sydney before going to his beloved Singleton a third time in 1961.

In 1909 Jarman had been made a life member and honorary fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians, England. He was chief adjudicator at Ballarat's South Street contests in 1931; by 1964 he estimated that he had judged at seventeen eisteddfods in Australia, New Zealand and Britain. That year he retired to Dapto where he made his skills available to the local parish. Survived by his wife and three daughters, he died on 5 June 1968 at Hammondville Nursing Home and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Wilson, Official History of the Municipal Jubilee of Bathurst, 1812-1912 (Syd, 1913)
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 16 Apr 1931
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Sept 1964
  • Singleton Argus, 7 June 1968
  • Scone Advocate, 11 June 1968
  • private information.

Citation details

David R. Cole, 'Jarman, Charles Arthur (1882–1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 18 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


7 April, 1882
Macdonaldtown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


5 June, 1968 (aged 86)
Hammondville, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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