CODE, EDWARD PERCIVAL (1888-1953), musician, was born on 3 July 1888 at South
Melbourne, son of Edward Thomas Code, picture-frame maker and bandmaster, and his
wife Mary Ann, née Payne, both from Bendigo. His father, a trumpeter, conducted
Code's Melbourne Brass Band from 1892; it was a frequent winner of competitions
and won the championship of Australia in 1898-1900. The family included other
bandsmen. Taught to play violin and cornet by his father, Percy won numerous
cornet competitions while attending school at Faraday Street, Carlton. Following
his win at the South Street competition, Ballarat, in 1910, he was invited to join
the visiting English Besses o' th' Barn Band. Leaving Australia early in 1911 he
studied with bandmaster Alec Owen, won the gold medal of the London College of
Music and played as a soloist with the band on a world tour. Returning to
Australia, he settled in Ballarat as a choir and band conductor and music teacher.
On 23 March 1915 at Lydiard Street Methodist Church, he married Elsie Maude
Miller; they had no children and lived apart from about 1930.
View the full record at
Australian Dictionary of Biography
Percy Code grew up in a family of bandsmen. He learnt cornet and violin from his father, E.T. Code, who was the conductor of Code's Melbourne Brass Band from 1892. This band was a frequent winner of competitions and were Australian champions from 1898-1900. Percy Code competed successfully in numerous contests in his youth, and in 1910 he won the distinguished Royal South Street competition at Ballarat. He was subsequently invited to join the visiting Besses o' th' Barn Band from England as its principal cornetist, with which he toured the world after some study in England. He settled in Ballarat on his return to Australia in 1912 and worked as a conductor, teacher, and adjudicator of competitions. In 1921 he went to the USA and joined the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, playing under Alfred Hertz. He also worked as a theatre musician and arranger of film music.
Code returned to Melbourne in 1924, moving into radio work with 3AR and continuing his theatre playing. In 1929 he became the principal conductor for the Australian Broadcasting Company, and continued as senior conductor for the Melbourne 'core' orchestra when the Company became the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1932. He maintained a long association with the ABC, transferring to Sydney in 1936 and training the orchestra for the series of celebrity seasons. He conducted operas for broadcast and travelled extensively within Australia. In 1947 he returned to Melbourne, retiring four years later. He was a popular figure in the band world and highly regarded among professional players as both a conductor and soloist.
Code mostly composed for brass; many of his works are still well known and remain in contest and concert repertoire. His music includes numerous works for band, teaching pieces (including Allan's Modern Method for Cornet or Trumpet (1936)), and many virtuosic solo pieces.