Edward Henry Laurie Hevingham-Root (1914-1976), was born in Melbourne where he lived for most of his life. He was educated at St Andrew’s School and Scotch College. After leaving school, he enlisted in the Australian Army, where he served for most of his working life.
Laurie Hevingham-Root studied music as a boy and later became a fine baritone singer and also a pianist. He was a member of the Melbourne Liedertafel Choir and was a singing coach. At an early age he started to collect gramophone recordings and he was one of a small group of collectors who met regularly at Hall’s Book Store in Prahran. He specialised in collecting recordings and documents of operatic performances in the period 1898 to 1912 and had an almost complete set of the 1902 red label G and T opera recordings. He also owned rare recordings with the Italian Fonotipa label. He contributed articles to magazines such as the Record Collector and The Gramophone. For over forty years he was the Honorary Curator of Phonography at the Science Museum of Victoria.
The Hevingham-Root collection was purchased by the Library in 1976 from Winifred Hevingham-Root, the wife of Laurie Hevingham-Root.
The Hevingham-Root Collection contains about 100 biographies and autobiographies of opera singers and composers. The subjects include Emma Albani, Johann Sebastian Bach, Ferruccio Busoni, Enrico Caruso, Feodor Chaliapin, Mary Garden, Jenny Lind, John McCormack, Nellie Melba, Adelina Patti, Henry Russell, Charles Santley, Franz Schubert and Giuseppe Verdi.
There are also about 460 theatre and concert programs, mostly Australian, dating from about 1900 to 1975.
The Hevingham-Root Collection contains the vocal scores of about 200 operas, totalling 261 volumes. Some of the most celebrated composers, such as Bizet, Donizetti, Massenet, Rossini, Verdi and Wagner, are represented in the collection. In addition, there are operas by minor composers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They include Eugen d’Albert (1864-1932), Daniel Auber (1782-1871), Herman Bemberg (1859-1931), Walter Damrosch (1862-1954), Ferdinand Hérold (1791-1833), Charles Lecocq (1832-1918), Ernest Reyer (1823-1909), Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) and Riccardo Zandonai (1883-1944).
There are also a number of song books, anthems, sacred songs, oratorio, lieder and folk songs.
From about 1935 onwards, Hevingham-Root maintained an extensive correspondence with record collectors and opera historians in various countries and some of their letters are preserved in the collection. In particular, there are many letters from John Dennis, John Freestone and P.G. Hurst. Other personal papers include indexes and lists of recordings, drafts of articles, a discography of Nellie Melba and photographs.
The books and programs in the Hevingham-Root Collection have been integrated in the general and ephemera collections. The books have been catalogued individually. The scores are kept together as a formed collection within the Music Collection. They have been catalogued as a collection, but the works have not been catalogued individually.
The original Hevingham-Root collection contained 1551 early sound recordings and also an EMG gramophone dating from the early 1930s. The sound recordings and the gramophone are now held in the National Film and Sound Archive.
Murphy, Don, Oral history interview with Winifred Hevingham-Root and Gretchen Racine, October 1989, National Film and Sound Archive, 188984
Robinson, Nicky. Library is top scorer with opera collection, The Australian, 13 April 1977, p. 6
First posted 2008 (revised 2019)