J.C. Williamson (Firm). (1881-1984)

Also known as
J. C. Williamson (Firm).
J.C. Williamson Ltd.
J. C. Williamson Ltd.. (1881-1984)
J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd.
JC Williamson Firm. (1881-1984)
J C Williamson Firm. (1881-1984)
JC Williamson Ltd. (1881-1984)
JC Williamson Theatres Ltd. (1881-1984)
Libraries Australia
http://nla.gov.au/anbd.aut-an35793390
NLA Persistent Identifier
http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-568370

Biographies

The theatrical organisation J. C. Williamson Ltd was an influential force in the growth of dance as a theatrical art form in Australia. The company provided work for Australian dancers and choreographers over its entire lifetime, and was instrumental in bringing to Australia major guest stars and companies from the international dance world. J. C. Williamson Ltd also played a significant role in the establishment of professional, Australian ballet companies.

The company Williamson, Garner and Musgrove, which later became known as J. C. Williamson Ltd., was founded in 1881 as a partnership between James Cassius Williamson (1845-1913), George Musgrove (1854-1916) and Arthur Garner (1851-?). In 1881 the three leased the Theatre Royal in Melbourne and the Theatre Royal in Sydney, and, in 1884, the Princess Theatre in Melbourne. During its first decade of existence this group of three became known popularly as ?The Triumvirate'.

The first decade of the company's existence, the 1880s, proved highly successful with seasons of Patience (1882), Youth (1883) and After Dark (1884), the latter two featuring British actor George Rignold, the first of many imported international celebrities who would appear for the company. In this first decade J. C. Williamson engaged a ballet mistress from London, Marie Reddall (Riddle), and set up a large, permanent ballet ensemble known as the Royal Ballerinas to work in his newly created Royal Comic Opera.

The management of the organisation changed significantly in the 1890s. In 1890, following a rift that had developed between Williamson and Musgrove over the contract for Nellie Stewart, Williamson's leading local star and Musgrove's partner, Musgrove left the company. Between 1890 and 1891, the company was renamed Williamson, Garner and Co. In 1891 Garner withdrew from the partnership to pursue his own business interests and his share of the company was bought out by Williamson. Williamson and Musgrove reunited in 1892 renaming the company Williamson and Musgrove, a name which persisted until the partnership was dissolved in 1899.

The first decades of the twentieth century brought further changes to the management. In 1904, Williamson brought on two new partners, George Tallis and Gustave Ramaciotti, who had previously been engaged as the company's Melbourne manager and legal adviser respectively. On Ramaciotti's retirement in 1911, Williamson invited Hugh J. Ward to become a partner and, in the same year, there was a merger with the theatre entrepreneurs Clarke and Meynell with the subsequent renaming of the company to J. C. Williamson Ltd. Following the death of Williamson in 1913, the fortunes of the company over the next fifty years were primarily guided by four of the five the Tait brothers, John, Nevin, E. J. and Frank Tait who, at the invitation of chairman of directors George Tallis, became managing directors in 1920.

In the early part of the twentieth century the Williamson organisation began its initiatives to bring major dance artists and companies to Australia. In 1913 the Danish-born ballerina Adeline Genee led a tour by the Imperial Russian Ballet. Two tours by Anna Pavlova and her company, the first in 1926 and the second in 1929, were hugely successful and influential. In 1934 the organisation brought the Dandre-Levitoff Russian Ballet, led by Olga Spessivtseva and Anatole Vilzak, to Australia and was also the entrepreneurial force behind three tours by the Ballets Russes companies of Colonel de Basil, which took place between 1936 and 1940. In subsequent years Williamsons continued to bring large theatrical dance companies to Australia including ballet companies such as the Bolshoi Ballet and a variety of folk dance companies including many from the USSR.

In the early 1940s Williamsons backed Australia's first professional ballet company, the Kirsova Ballet and, by 1943, ?The Firm', as the organisation had become popularly known, was presenting seasons of the Borovansky Ballet. During two lay-off periods dancers from the Borovansky Ballet also performed in the J. C. Williamson Ltd. musicals Dancing Years (1946) and Gay Rosalinda (1946). J. C. Williamson Ltd. musicals proved a regular source of employment for Australian dancers throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The organisation staged many important musicals during this period, including Annie Get Your Gun (1947), Oklahoma! (1949), Brigadoon (1951), Kiss me, Kate (1952), South Pacific (1952), The Pyjama Game (1958), and My Fair Lady (1959). The Williamson organisation was also involved, along with the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, in the establishment and early seasons of the Australian Ballet.

In the 1950s competition from new entertainment media, particularly television and cinema, and the deaths of the Tait brothers, E. J. in 1947, John in 1955 and Nevin in 1961, led to the company losing its position as the dominant theatrical agency in Australia. The Sutherland Williamson tour in 1965 was the last involvement of the remaining brother, Sir Frank Tait. With the deaths of the Tait brothers the company struggled to survive mergers and restructuring during the 1970s. In 1976 the company's theatres were sold, and the name J. C. Williamson Ltd. was leased. The involvement of interests headed by Michael Edgley and Kenn Brodziak staved off collapse until 1984, when the J. C. Williamson Ltd. was acquired by the Danbury Group.

General note: Research materials listed below are those which include a significant dance component. Additional holdings of material relating to J. C. Williamson Ltd. can be accessed through the catalogues of the National Library of Australia, State Library of NSW and the State Library of Victoria.

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  1. Website: Australia dancing
    www.australiadancing.org
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    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.032)

  2. Website: Barry O'Farrell MP (Premier of NSW)
    www.nsw.liberal.org.au
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    • local firm to prepare site for coffs har... - 17/4/2014
    • ...www.nsw.liberal.org.au/news/state-news/local-firm-prepare-site-coffs-harbour-justice-precinct.html......www.nsw.liberal.org.au/news/state-news/local-firm-prepare-site-coffs-harbour-justice-precinct.html...
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  3. Website: Australian postal history & social philately
    www.auspostalhistory.com
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    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.009)

  1. J.C. Williamson collection of photo...
    J.C. Williamson...
    [ Photograph : 1890-1975 ]
    J.C. Williamson collection of photographs
  2. Collection of prints of posters pro...
    J.C. Williamson...
    [ Poster, chart, other : 1905 ]
  3. [Collection of posters produced by ...
    J.C. Williamson...
    [ Poster, chart, other : 1910-1970 ]
  4. Lady Viola Tait collection
    J.C. Williamson...
    [ Poster, chart, other : 1850-1976 ]
    Lady Viola Tait collection
  5. [Collection of posters produced by ...
    J.C. Williamson...
    [ Poster, chart, other : 1970-1980 ]
  6. Collection of photographs of J.C. W...
    Blair, Elva, 19...
    [ Photograph : 1940-1945 ]
    Collection of photographs of J.C. Williamson productions
  1. J.C. Williamson (Firm)
    ... The theatrical organisation J. C. Williamson Ltd was an influential force in the ...
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 0.935)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 0.935)

  2. Constable, Bill, (William) (-1989)
    Artist; 9002; Printmaker; Cartoonist / Illustrator; Painter; ; Stage designer; Film designer; 5511; Artistic Director; Designer; Set Designer; Costume Designer; Scenic Artist
    ... J. C. Williamson Ltd. ... (1937) and three productions for J. C. Williamson Ltd.'s Marie Ney ...
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.023)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.023)

  3. Ramaciotti, Vera (1982-)
    Philanthropist
    ... Department in 1917. Ramaciotti bought shares in the J.C. Williamson theatrical empire and acquired the ...
    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.003)

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.003)

  1. J. C. WILLIAMSON LIMITED.
    Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001) Thursday 24 March 1921 [Issue No.43] p 2031

    Government Gazette Private Notices

    ... J. C. WILLIAMSON LIMITED. THE undermentioned Resolutions were duly passed at an Extraordinary ... of September, 1920, and made between the said J. C. Williamson Limited of the one part and the said ... 620 words
    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.051)

    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.051)

  2. NOTICE is hereby given that the partnership heretofore subsisting between the undersigned Stanley Williamson and John
    Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001) Friday 7 October 1949 [Issue No.192] p 2996

    Government Gazette Private Notices

    ... Stanley Williamson who will continue to carry on the business of retail grocer under the old firm name at ... own account. S. WILLIAMSON. J. LIMOND. Witness,—W. J. §. Thompson, F.C.A. (Aust.). 2868—15s. ... 114 words
    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.012)

    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.012)

  3. Index page
    New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900) Sunday 31 December 1865 [INDEX Jul 1865-Dec 1865] p xiii

    Government Gazette Index And Contents

    ... 1826 „ Poundage Rates at, fixed .. 1758 „ Poundkeeper at, appointed .. .. 1758 Irvine David Williamson ... land of to Inverell con firmed., 2012 Kelly P.—Road from land of to Tumut Bridge opened 1578 Kelly ... 2022 words
    This resource may only be vaguely related to your query: matching terms may only have been found in the full text contents of the resource (score: 0)

    This resource may only be vaguely related to your query: matching terms may only have been found in the full text contents of the resource (score: 0)

  1. J.C. WILLIAMSON. LTD.
    Daily Post (Hobart, Tas. : 1908 - 1918) Monday 4 August 1913 p 3 Article
    ... J . C . W IL L I A M S O N . I .T D . ‘•P uss In B o o ts” p anto m im e will soon b e w ith us. n ... s M r. R ic h a rd S te w ­ a r t, o n e o f th e o ld e st m em b ers o f th e .1. C. W illiam so n ... 373 words
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.484)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.484)

  2. J.C. WILLIAMSON'S "SO & SO'S."
    The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931) Saturday 30 October 1920 p 11 Article
    ... J.C. WILLIAMSON'S "SO & SO'S." Amusement seakers will welcome the an-<*> cement of the inauguration ... of a fresco [?] by the firm of J.C. Wil-<*> [?] at the Garden Theatre, Exhibi-<*> lion Grounds on ... 226 words
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.432)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.432)

  3. AMUSEMENTS J.C. WILLIAMSON'S COMPANY
    Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954) Tuesday 13 September 1927 p 2 Article
    ... AMUSEMENTS J. O. WTLLIAMSON'S COMPANY The boi. plans for tha .1. C. Williamson couiic Opera ... ! Ihu Lyric Muhie. Houhv. The J. C. Wjllianusoa firm recently decided to place its entertainment ... 192 words
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.427)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.427)

  1. J.C. Williamson Ltd. magazine programme
    J.C. Williamson (Firm)
    [ Published, Periodical : 1900-1948 ]
    At 7 libraries
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1.623)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1.623)

  2. Chairman's address / J.C. Williamson Limited
    J.C. Williamson (Firm)
    [ Periodical : 1900 ]
    At National Library
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1.069)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1.069)

  3. Chairman's review / J.C. Williamson Limited
    J.C. Williamson (Firm)
    [ Periodical : 1900-2016 ]
    At National Library
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1.066)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1.066)

  4. Director's report, balance-sheet and profit and loss account for the year ended ... / J.C. Williamson Limited
    J.C. Williamson (Firm)
    [ Periodical : 1900 ]
    At State Library of NSW
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 0.906)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 0.906)

  1. J.C. Williamson Ltd. magazine programme
    J.C. Williamson (Firm)
    [ Published, Periodical : 1900-1948 ]
    At 7 libraries
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 1.602)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 1.602)

  2. Don's party / David Williamson
    Williamson, David, 1942 February 24-
    [ Book, Audio book, Published : 1973-1997 ]
    At 94 libraries
    Don's party / David Williamson
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.82)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.82)

  3. [J. C. Williamson collection of theatre programs. in the Australian performing arts collection (PROMPT)]
    J.C. Williamson (Firm)
    [ Published : 1837-1969 ]
    Possibly online
    At National Library
    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.753)

    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.753)

  1. Carmen : an opera in four acts / Bizet
    Bizet, Georges, 1838-1875
    [ Printed music : 1800-2003 ]
    Languages: English;French;German;freeng, [4 others]
    Read online at Hathi Trust
    View online
    At 22 libraries
    Carmen : an opera in four acts / Bizet
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 1.105)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 1.105)

  2. L'Elisir d'amore : The elixir of love : comic opera in two acts / music by Gaetano Donizetti ; libretto by Felice Romani ; English version by Ruth and Thomas Martin
    Donizetti, Gaetano, 1797-1848
    [ Printed music, Microform : 1800-1999 ]
    Languages: Italian;English;German, [2 others]
    At 13 libraries
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 1.035)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 1.035)

  3. Hansel and Gretel : opera in two acts / Engelbert Humperdinck ; text by Adelheid Wette ; translated and adapted by Norman Kelley
    Humperdinck, Engelbert, 1854-1921
    [ Printed music : 1894-1998 ]
    Languages: English;German, [1 other]
    At 24 libraries
    Hansel and Gretel : opera in two acts / Engelbert Humperdinck ; text by Adelheid Wette ; translated and adapted by Norman Kelley
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 1.033)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 1.033)

  4. Il Barbiere di Siviglia : The Barber of Seville : a comic opera in two acts / composed by Gioacchino Rossini ; edited and translated into English by Natalia Macfarren
    Rossini, Gioacchino, 1792-1868
    [ Printed music : 1800-2010 ]
    Languages: Italian;English;German;French, [5 others]
    Read online at Hathi Trust
    View online
    At 24 libraries
    Il Barbiere di Siviglia : The Barber of Seville : a comic opera in two acts / composed by Gioacchino Rossini ; edited and translated into English by Natalia Macfarren
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.867)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.867)

  1. The hobbit, or, There and back again / by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Tolkien, J. R. R. (John Ronald Reuel), 1892-1973
    [ Book, Audio book : 1900-2015 ]
    Languages: English;Spanish;Italian;Croatian, [31 others]
    Read online at Open Library/Internet Archive
    View online
    At 211 libraries
    The hobbit, or, There and back again / by J.R.R. Tolkien
    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.132)

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.132)

  2. The voyage of the Dawn Treader / C.S. Lewis ; illustrated by Pauline Baynes
    Lewis, C. S. (Clive Staples), 1898-1963
    [ Book, Audio book, Sound : 1952-2014 ]
    Languages: English;Chinese;Spanish;Indonesian, [8 others]
    Read online at Open Library/Internet Archive
    View online
    At 157 libraries
    The voyage of the Dawn Treader / C.S. Lewis ; illustrated by Pauline Baynes
    This resource may only be vaguely related to your query: matching terms may only have been found in the full text contents of the resource (score: 0.09)

    This resource may only be vaguely related to your query: matching terms may only have been found in the full text contents of the resource (score: 0.09)

  3. 40 stars of the Russian classical ballet : <souvenir program>
    J.C. Williamson (Firm)
    [ Map : 1969 ]
    This resource may only be vaguely related to your query: matching terms may only have been found in the full text contents of the resource (score: 0.087)

    This resource may only be vaguely related to your query: matching terms may only have been found in the full text contents of the resource (score: 0.087)

  1. Don's party / David Williamson
    Williamson, David, 1942 February 24-
    [ Book, Audio book, Published : 1973-1997 ]
    At 94 libraries
    Don's party / David Williamson
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.82)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.82)

  2. A family of brothers : the Taits and J. C. Williamson : a theatre history / Viola Tait
    Tait, Viola, 1911-2002
    [ Book : 1970-1971 ]
    At 64 libraries
    A family of brothers : the Taits and J. C. Williamson : a theatre history / Viola Tait
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.814)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.814)

  3. The world of J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd : the largest chain of legitimate commercial theatres in the world
    J.C. Williamson (Firm)
    [ Book : 1973 ]
    At 6 libraries
    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.676)

    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.676)

  4. JCW 100 : 1874 - 1974 souvenir
    J.C. Williamson (Firm)
    [ Book : 1974 ]
    At 3 libraries
    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.602)

    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.602)

  1. Annie Get Your Gun (1946 - )
    Annie Get Your Gun (1946 - )
    Created by NLAdance, 9 items.

    The Australian production of Annie Get your Gun, an enterprise of the J. C. Williamson organisation, opened in Melbourne on 19 July 1947. Its first season in Australia just over twelve mon...

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.005)

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.005)

  2. Luisillo and his Spanish Dance Theatre Australian Tours (1958 - )
    Luisillo and his Spanish Dance Theatre Australian Tours  (1958 - )
    Created by NLAdance, 7 items.

    Luisillo and his Spanish Dance Theatre came to Australia under the banner of the J. C. Williamson organisation on four tours, initially in 1958 and again in 1962, 1967 and 1976. The company toured...

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.004)

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.004)

  3. Dandre-Levitoff Russian Ballet tour (1934 - 1935)
    Dandre-Levitoff Russian Ballet tour (1934 - 1935)
    Created by NLAdance, 13 items.

    The Dandre-Levitoff Russian Ballet, which toured Australia from late 1934 to early 1935, was directed by Victor Dandre in conjunction with the impresario Alexander Levitoff. Dandre was Anna Pavlov...

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.003)

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.003)