Dancing the City of Sydney Polka

Kick up your heels! We certainly are.

The City of Sydney Council voted on Monday to support the Dictionary for four more years, continuing their generous support in both cash and kind. The City has been our major government sponsor since the project’s inception, and provided a home for the Dictionary team at its Town Hall House headquarters, and we are very glad to be here for another four years. This gives us the security to keep building an innovative product that engages with our readers and the community.

It’s part of the City’s exemplary commitment to history — with its oral history program, historical walking tours, history publications, online exhibitions, grants and many other projects. We really benefit from working closely with our colleagues in the program, City Historian Lisa Murray, oral historian Margo Beasley, and historian Laila Ellmoos.

City of Sydney Polka

The City of Sydney Polka, composed by Charles Sandys Packer, published Sydney, Woolcott and Clarke, 1854?, from the collections of the National Library of Australia nla.mus-an5396832

So  what is the City of Sydney Polka? It was written by Charles Packer,  in 1854, and dedicated to William Charles Wentworth. Packer, profiled by Graeme Skinner in the Dictionary, was quite a character — a fine musician, he was transported to Sydney for forgery, and later imprisoned for bigamy. Despite this, he was a popular fellow, and 6,000 people attended his funeral in 1883, along with at least four bands and a number of city choirs. They didn’t play the City of Sydney Polka, obviously, but, as the Herald reported:

“Signor Giorza conducted the vocalists and instrumentalists, and, the throng of people around taking up the strain, rarely has such a grand swell of harmony resounded in an Australian cemetery as that which yesterday rose over the grave of Charles Packer.”

Our thanks to the City of Sydney for their generous support. We’ll be dancing the Polka for quite a while!


About Emma Grahame

Emma Grahame has been Editorial Coordinator of the Dictionary of Sydney since May 2007.
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