On the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hector Crawford in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, it is timely to reflect upon his audiovisual legacy – which is preserved in the NFSA collection – and his contribution to Australia’s cultural life.
A hint of his capacity, talent, and philanthropy was evident at the beginning of his public career when, in 1938, 25-year-old Crawford inaugurated the free public music concert series, Music for the People.
Music for the People was held in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, sponsored by the Victorian State Government and the Melbourne City Council, with Hector as director and conductor of the Melbourne Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra (later known as the Australian Symphony Orchestra). The concerts were broadcast on Radio 3DB and in 1959 became one of HSV 7 television’s early ventures into outside broadcasting. They were also used as fundraisers for organisations supporting injured service personnel during the Second World War.
This tradition continued for 40 years and, over later times, was incorporated into Melbourne’s Moomba Festival with performances at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The concerts always attracted large crowds, but perhaps its zenith was in 1967 when 200,000 people flocked to the concert to see The Seekers perform. Hector’s enduring passion for music, his commitment to bringing Australian talent to the attention of the general public and his desire to popularise classical music were themes across his career via Music for the People, Opera for the People, Music Under the Stars and in concerts for the winners of his radio and TV music talent shows, Mobil Quest (1949-1957) and Showcase (1965-1968, 1973-1974, 1978).