About Us

The MSV has a proud history since 1861. Victoria was first settled in 1835. Population expanded  rapidly after the gold rushes of the 1850s and the number of experienced  musicians from Europe grew.  There was no organisation for instrumental music – to protect the rights of musicians, to present concerts, to further music education.  The Musical  Association of Victoria was established in 1861 to achieve these aims.  Members included the leading musicians at the time. The first music exams in Victoria were established by this society in 1876.  Professional musicians established a further organisation in 1877, the Musical Artists’ Society. Members had to perform music or compose. This society was largely instrumental in promoting chamber music in Victoria.  A music library was established.   In 1892 these two societies were reconstituted as the Musical Society of Victoria. The MSV was a major force in the growth of instrumental music in Victoria in the early days.

Throughout our history members have included the leading musicians of the day. Nellie Melba, Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Yehudi Menuhin are among the esteemed honorary members.  

Economic privations during the depression of the 1930s meant many were unable to attend the concerts which were held in the city. District centres were set up in the suburbs where people could meet to perform and listen to music. Since the first in 1932 there have been about 50 centres which have opened and closed in response to local needs. Currently in 2022 there are six  centres across Melbourne  offering regular concerts.  Many of our musicians today have played their first performances in a Centre which provides encouragement and support without the pressure of examinations.

MSV exams were abandoned in 1963 and were replaced by a system of scholarships/awards. We are indebted to donors whose contributions make these awards possible.  Instrumental and vocal awards are made in different age groups. There is a Chamber music award, a composition award and  a Special Project.

The basic aim of the Society has remained the same since 1861,  that is “the general advancement of musical art”.   Demographic, social and economic changes have required constant adjustments in the way this is achieved. The focus has changed to become more on supporting young musicians while providing listening opportunities to members and the public. The MSV since 1861 has provided a vital service to music in our community.



History of The Musical Society of Victoria

In 2011 Eril Tan compiled a book recounting and updating the history of the Musical Society in Victoria, to co-incide with the celebration of 150 years.

The Musical Society of Victoria - Celebrating 150 Years

Full details of how to order may be obtained by downloading the order form.  It is available for $10 plus postage.

By purchasing this book, not only will you have a priceless record of the Society's history, but you will be assisting our current young musicians with their studies.

To order your copy, Download order form