Sydney Savage Club Formed
On May 21, 1934 a letter was sent to a number of people in the fields of music and art by resident New Zealanders to inaugurate a Sydney Savage Club along the lines of their club across the ditch. The club was to be founded on the Rules and Constitution of the London Savage Club with certain innovations similar to those adopted in NZ but adaptable to Australia and also of restricted membership.
This letter was the result of the dreams and preliminary work by a small group of enthusiasts and the first meeting was held at The Australia Hotel on 5th June 1934. An old Minutes book states on Monday, October 30th 1933 a meeting was held at the Exchange Hotel, to discuss the possibility of forming a new Club, a project which had been mooted for some time. After much discussion this new Club was agreed upon and the members attending were listed as 'Founding Members'.
The first social gathering was held at The Arts Club in Pitt Street on August 24th 1934. Throughout the years of the Sydney Savage Club people have continued to meet in friendship and appreciation for Music, Literature, Art and Theatre.
The original Sydney Savage Club followed a similar style to the London Savage Club and New Zealand Savage Clubs in adopting imagery and symbols of natives and aboriginals. It is now recognised that the original founders were men of journalism, architecture, poetry, literature, arts and music who formed their club in the spirit of camaraderie in order to meet and share their particular interests with others of like mind.
In the early years of the Club's existence there were good times and bad times. Times when the change of location for the Club's meetings and functions was frequent. Times when it seemed that the enthusiasm for the club was fading. Times of tragedy with many club members leaving because of ill health and the deaths of some long time stalwarts of the Club. Then came the War years. Many members joined various active services, and of course some didn't return. Following the war, when there were food shortages in England, the Club decided to contribute with food parcels to their colleagues of the London Savage Club. This hands across the sea gesture, at a time of great hardship, represented the compassion and friendship which is at the heart of the Savage Club tradition.
In earlier times the Club welcomed some varied and illustrious guests to the Savage Club functions, including Sir Eugene Goossens, who was made an Honorary club member, Dame Sybil Thorndyke, James Dibble, well known ABC newsreader, Bobby Limb and Dawn Lake. In 1962 Australia's sweetheart' Gladys Moncrieff was a very welcome guest.
As the war situation improved it was decided to take steps to contribute to the cultural life of the community. There were moves for the inauguration of a Savage Club Scholarship. This Scholarship was to be devoted to the assistance of talented young Australians in the various arts of Music, Painting, Drawing, Architecture, Sculpture, Literature and other areas of the Arts. The Savage Club has been pleased to assist some now illustrious names in the field of Music.
To name a few:
|1948 Richard Bonynge - Pianist/Conductor|
|1949 June Bronhill (June Gough) - International Soprano|
|1950 Donald Hazelwood - Violin/Concert Master Sydney Symphony Orchestra|
|1978 Angela Punch McGregor - Female Actor|
|2007 Warwick Fyfe - Baritone|
|2010 Brendon Carmody - Opera Director|
|2012 Carolyn Watson - Conductor|
|2013 Toby Thatcher - Oboist|
The Savage Club continues to sponsor Awards and Scholarships in the Sydney Eisteddfod, and helps individuals in their striving to become professional performers.
When it was suggested that the club be open to women, most members were immediately supportive of the idea but a few strongly disagreed. In fact three members resigned! However the Savage Club continues to flourish with women and men from various fields of the arts and theatre continuing to enjoy traditional Savage Club camaraderie.
It would, no doubt, surprise the original Savage Club members of yesteryear to know that their organisation has continued into the 21st Century. Despite Richard Savage's unproven life story the Sydney Savage Club includes men and women from all walks of life who continue to keep the spirit of friendship and companionship alive and still encourage young people towards the appreciation of literature, music theatre and the arts in general.