The University of Sydney War Memorial Carillon commemorates the 197 undergraduates, graduates and staff who died in the Great War of 1914-1918. It was paid for by private subscription (inside and outside the University) and was dedicated on the afternoon of Anzac Day, 25 April, 1928, by visiting English carillonist, Mr. Bryan Barker. Originally the Carillon consisted of 62 bells giving 49 notes, the top octave bells being in duplicate. The bells were cast by John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough, Leicestershire, whose foundry origins date back to the 14th Century. The instrument was played at a keyboard of manual and pedal levers. For a short time a pneumatic keyboard was also used.
In 1973 the top bells were returned to the original founders for recasting, and at the same time five additional small bells were cast. The rebuilt Carillon now has a total of 54 bells and a range of 4½ octaves. The lowest note (the Bourdon) is G on the bottom line of the bass stave. This bell weighs approximately 4½ tonnes.
In May 1999, the C#3 bell that had developed several cracks was replaced. The decommissioning of the old and the dedication of the new bell was celebrated on 11 May 1999, partly with a recital.
The Carillon is fully chromatic from the lowest note upwards and transposes up a semitone, so that the bottom note (G) is, in terms of pitch, A flat. For a sample of what the instrument sounds like today, try our audio samples).
The Canberra Carillon, dedicated in 1970, is a sister carillon to the War Memorial Carillon, having one bell less.
Last updated 1 November 2005.