Kathleen Teresa Brady (1934-1989) was born in Traralgon, Victoria, and began playing the piano at the age of four. She graduated from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music in 1955 and taught music at Lauriston Girls’ School and Flemington Girls’ School. In 1963-65 she studied piano and harpsichord at the Quebec Conservatoire de Musique. Following her return to Australia in 1967, she was a tutor in music at Monash University for five years. She lived in London in 1973-76 and studied piano with Louis Kentner and nineteenth century pianism with Rhea Perrin. She then taught music at Loreto College, Ballarat, for two years and thereafter she held a number of short-term teaching positions in Melbourne. She also established a music publishing venture, Musica Australiana Press.
Brady performed piano and harpsichord recitals in Australia, Canada and Britain and in her later years she mainly performed, recorded and published nineteenth century music, drawing on her studies of pianists such as Liszt. The first publication of her press in 1979 was a quartet by Charles Edward Horsley (1822-1876), the manuscript of which she found in a stack of old music in a shop in Melbourne. Brady was an assiduous collector and vendor of sheet music, albums and concert programs, especially piano music and popular songs of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She produced a number of music catalogues.
Following her marriage in 1981, Brady often wrote under the name of Kathleen Brady-Zilles.
The original collection was purchased by the Library from Kathleen Brady in 1979 and further material was acquired from her in 1982, 1986 and 1988. In addition, a major instalment was bought from the dealer Ken Snell in 1984. Some items were donated by Brady’s nephew, Michael Daly, in 1990.
The Kathleen Brady Collection comprises about 12500 albums and sheet music items, the main strengths being popular songs and piano music of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition, there are chamber works, orchestral works, opera arias, choral works and band music. While most of the works were published overseas, there are also many Australian imprints. They include a substantial number of compositions of the Australian songwriter May Brahe (1884-1945). The fine lithograph covers of many of the older works are a feature of the Brady Collection, as with the Snell Collection.
Among the rare scores are compositions by J.S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Frank Bridge, Cécile Chaminade, Frederic Chopin, J.B. Cramer, Carl Czerny, Anton Diabelli, Jan Ladislav Dussek, Manuel de Falla, Isador Goodman, George Frederic Handel, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Nicolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelsohn, Frank Musgrave, Francis Poulenc, Edward F. Rimbault, Gioacchino Rossini, Sigismond Thalberg, Hugo Ulrich and the Australian composers George Chapman and Robert Mackie.
There are also many programs, a small number of overseas books and an Australian work, Stella Nerret’s History of the Musical Society of Victoria 1861-1981.
The collection contains a quantity of manuscript music, extending back to the mid-nineteenth century. Much of it is unidentified, but it includes works of George Bell and three albums of nursery rhymes by Helen McKenzie. The largest group consists of photocopies of vocal, piano and orchestral music of the Australian composer Conrad Gerard Zilles (1892-1958). There are also a number of manuscripts of songs and choral works by Brady, dating from 1952 to 1971.
The collection has a small pictorial component, comprising a lithograph of the conductor Frederic H. Cowen (c. 1888), four photographs of the Tait Family, and a scrapbook of portraits of actors, singers, vaudeville artists and musicians, many of them associated with J.C. Williamson.
There are several albums of personal papers of Kathleen Brady, including letters, references, programs, flyers, reviews of her recitals, newspaper cuttings and papers relating to Musica Australiana Press. In addition, there is a quantity of photocopied articles, notes and other material that she used in her research.
Both the printed and unpublished music in the Kathleen Brady Collection are housed in the Music Collection. The overseas music is uncatalogued and has been kept together as a formed collection within the Music Collection at MUS Brady piano music. The sheet music, which mostly comprises piano scores, is arranged alphabetically by composer. The albums are divided into piano, orchestral, instrumental and vocal music, with each group again arranged alphabetically by composer. The Australian music has been catalogued individually and integrated in the Australian sheet music collection.
The personal papers are also housed in the Music Collection. They have not been sorted or catalogued. The pictures and scrapbook are held at various locations in the Pictures Collection.