George Nicholas and his first wife had four children. The eldest, Lindsay, and his younger sister, Nola, became talented musicians. In March 1938, George Nicholas and his second wife, Shirley, took 22-year-old Lindsay and 19-year-old Nola to London. At the same time, in the same hotel, were the talented American Menuhin siblings: violinist Yehudi, just 21, and pianist Hephzibah, 17.
The two sets of siblings met backstage after one of the Menuhins’ concerts and chemistry again transformed the lives of the Nicholas family! Yehudi became entranced by Nola and soon married her in London. Hephzibah also started to see Lindsay as a potential husband. Perhaps somewhat boldly for the times, Hephzibah proposed to Lindsay, despite the fact that he had a girlfriend back in Australia, and they were married in California later that year.
Yehudi and Nola went to live in the United States, but Hephzibah travelled to Australia with Lindsay after her marriage. They moved to Lindsay’s home, 'Terrinallum’, a sheep station nearly 340 km from Melbourne. The sophisticated musician living on a sheep station in rural Victoria created a media sensation at the time. How would she adapt to rural life and support her husband’s activities?
Hephzibah gave up a promising career as a concert pianist to become Mrs Lindsay Nicholas. She had two boys, Konrod and Marston, during the Second World War, and did not use the piano for concert practice until 1940, when her brother arrived in Australia for a series of concerts with Hephzibah. She helped establish the Red Cross in the district and put her own money into the local school and Victoria’s first travelling library, for the children of the district.
Hephzibah was a glamorous hostess and contemporary sources describe the parties, often with impressive guests like Sir Laurence Olivier and his wife Vivien Leigh, in 1948. We have a recording of Olivier and Leigh from the time reciting Banjo Paterson, apparently to debunk the idea that only local voices were suited to delivering the rhythm of Australian verse.