Historical information

This photograph depicts members of the Beechworth Band at a 'Liedertafel' concert in the main hall at the Burke Museum in 1999. The concert was associated with an exhibition titled, 'From the Liedertafel to the Skating Rink: Entertainment in Beechworth 1852 - early 1900s', which celebrated the rich and diverse entertainments that were a part of Beechworth life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Marching bands, choirs, circus acts, theatrical performances, races, and seasonal activities, such as Mr. Spiller's roller skating rink, founded in the late 1860s, were among the attractions on offer.

'Liedertafel' is a tradition that accompanied German settlers to Australia. It refers to a friendly society of men united by an enthusiasm for singing. The Beechworth Brass Band was formed by Mr. H. Vandenberg in 1887. The Beechworth Liedertafel was established 14 March 1894 at the London Tavern, Camp Street, Beechworth, by Mr. A.A. Billson, and a visiting conductor, Mr. H. Fielder. German clubs, complete with marching bands, athletics associations and Liedertafel choirs, were centres of social activity attracting wide audiences not limited to members of their own ethnicity.

Alfred Arthur Billson was the youngest son of Mr. George Billson, who served as Beechworth’s mayor between 1869-1871. In 1872, George purchased the Oven’s Brewery in Last Street, which became Billson’s Brewery, one of the oldest continuing beverage manufacturers in Australia. An active member of Beechworth’s cultural, business and political life around the turn of the century, A.A. Billson served on Beechworth Shire Council from 1884 to 1893, and from 1895 to 1910, with three terms as president (1888–89, 1899–1901, 1908–09). He founded the Beechworth Progress Association in 1891 and produced an ‘Illustrated Guide to Beechworth and Vicinity’ to develop tourism potential.


This photograph of the Beechworth Band playing at the Burke Museum is historically significant for the information it conveys about an exhibition at the Burke Museum between September and November 1999. The use of the contemporary Beechworth Band in a 'Liedertafel' performance provides insight into curatorial approaches at the turn of the twenty-first century and improves our understanding of how exhibitions use objects in the Burke Museum's Collection to tell stories about the past in the present. The image is historically and socially significant for attesting to the enduring appeal of local musical associations, which were a popular means of entertainment that fostered social connections among settlers from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Physical description

Rectangular colour photograph printed on matte photographic paper.

Inscriptions & markings

7029 /
7029 /
Source /
Burke Museum /
Beechworth /
Band /
1999/2000 /