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A curtain call for Christina Boughen

By Juanita Simmonds, 2022 Christina Boughen OAM Fellow | 18 January 2023

Guest blogger: Juanita Simmonds, recipient of the Christina Boughen OAM Fellowship for 2022

Group of friends gathered around a radio in Brisbane, ca. 1942.

Group of friends gathered around a radio in Brisbane, ca. 1942. John Oxley Libary, State Library of Queensland. Neg 102831. 

If, on the afternoon of Sunday 25 August 1940 you had switched on ABC radio, you would have heard several segments of music, including a short recital by Brisbane pianist, Christine Whyte. (1)

ABC radio programming in The Beaudesert Times, Friday 23 August 1940, page 10.

"ABC radio programming" in The Beaudesert Times, Friday 23 August 1940, page 10. National Library of Australia, Trove.

Even if listeners enjoyed the music, they probably wouldn’t have clapped at the end of the radio broadcast. Nonetheless, over the ensuing decades, audiences would hear this musician perform often in national radio programs, the touring Mobil Quest concerts, and concerts in South-East Queensland.

She was born in Scotland in 1920 and named Christina Urquhart Whyte. The family moved to Brisbane when she was six, and both Christina and her sister Margaret soon demonstrated musical talent in eisteddfods and exams. (2)

Christina went on to perform a vast amount of solo, duo, chamber and accompaniment repertoire in professional concerts and engagements. Although born in an era when married women typically stepped back from public spheres to raise children, Christina remained on stage including after she married fellow musician Robert Boughen in 1951 and started a family.

Margaret Whyte also performed, singing for the ABC as a vocalist and chorus member. What’s more, she kept scrapbooks with countless newspaper clippings of concert promotions, advertising and reviews that show the extent of Christina’s musical vocation. (3)

My project, “Christina Boughen: A Queensland musical artist and woman” will draw on The Christina Boughen OAM and Robert Boughen OBE papers, which include the scrapbooks mentioned above, and Christina’s concert programs.

As Christina played frequently in Brisbane City Council’s civic concerts and subsequently produced them as well, in future blogs I will look at Christina’s longstanding contribution to this aspect of Brisbane’s cultural life and other facets of her work.

Christina Boughen (1920-2014) was a Queensland figure – a musician, a woman – who had a successful performance career.

And that is worth applauding.

Juanita Simmonds

  • "A.B.C. Radio Entertainment", The Beaudesert Times, 23 August 1940, 10. This newspaper can be viewed on Trove.
  • Christina Boughen and Margaret Whyte scrapbook (1929-1937), Unit ID 32654/2, comprises newspaper clippings of the early achievements of Chrissie (as she was called as a child) and Margaret Whyte.
  • Christina Boughen scrapbook (1936-1988), Unit ID 32654/3.
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