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Peter Dawson

Peter Smith Dawson (31 January 1882 – 27 September 1961) was an Australian bass-baritone and songwriter. Dawson gained worldwide renown through song recitals and many best-selling recordings of operatic arias, oratorio solos and rousing ballads during a career spanning almost 60 years.

Although Dawson's repertoire embraced a great deal of contemporary popular songs and light music, he possessed a remarkably fluent and technically adroit vocal technique which enabled him to excel in highly demanding classical pieces. His voice combined an attractive dark timbre with an ideal balance of diction and vocal placement. He also possessed a smooth legato, a strong but integrated 'attack' that eschewed intrusive aspirates, and a near-perfect ability to manage running passages and difficult musical ornaments such as roulades.

These skills probably derived from his studies with Sir Charles Santley, a virtuoso English baritone of the Victorian era. If Dawson's interpretations were not profoundly penetrating, they were not shallow either; and in his chosen field of English concert pieces of the vigorous, manly, outdoors kind, he remains unequalled. The tremendously high technical finish of his Handelian singing sets an unmatched standard, too.

In 1984, Dawson was chosen by the Guinness Book of Recorded Sound as one of the top 10 singers on disc of all time, listed alongside such luminaries as Elvis Presley and the great operatic tenor Enrico Caruso.

In 2007, Peter Dawson's 1931 recording of the song Along the Road to Gundagai was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry.

Birth and Death Data: Born 1882 (Adelaide), Died 1961 (Sydney)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1905 - 1932

Roles Represented in DAHR: baritone vocal, speaker


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Gramophone 0B2663 10-in. 2/9/1932 Back your fancy (A race game for parties) Peter Dawson Talk, with orchestra speaker  
Gramophone 7203b 10-in. 9/4/1905 Old folks at home Nellie Melba Soprano vocal solo, with vocal trio and piano vocalist, baritone vocal  
Gramophone 7204b 10-in. 9/4/1905 Good night Nellie Melba Soprano vocal solo, with vocal trio and piano vocalist, baritone vocal  
Gramophone 10418e 10-in. 7/2/1909 Onward Christian soldiers Westminster Cathedral Choir Mixed vocal chorus, with band vocalist, baritone vocal  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Dawson, Peter," accessed September 23, 2021,

Dawson, Peter. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from

"Dawson, Peter." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 23 September 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier



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