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Doris Prentice


Born: 1895 Died: 1986


Doris A (Antoinette) Prentice (née Bagley) was born in Dunedin. She was the grand-daughter of James Schott, himself the grand-son of Bernhard Schott, the founder of B. Schott’s Söhne, Mainz, still one of the major German music publishers. James Schott, a highly colourful character, was born in Canada. He was an oboist, conductor, composer and serial philanderer. He abandoned his wife and family in Melbourne for one of his students. The rest of the family moved to Dunedin where his wife, Caroline ran a boarding house. He joined them in 1875, joining the orchestra for the Simonsen Opera Company. Caroline sued him for financial support and won, but James and his mistress fled to Hobart, where they married after Caroline’s death in 1879. He died in 1888. He had a song, Come to the fairy dell, published by Charles Begg in 1876.

Prentice thus came from a highly musical background and was a competent pianist, winning prizes in the Dunedin Competitions as a teenager. She married John Prentice on Boxing Day, 1919. They moved to Lower Hutt soon after, and their daughter was born there in 1921. She died in Christchurch. She had a close working relationship with poet Charles Allen throughout her life, probably starting with the 1915 ‘musical morality’, Flight Commander Bobby. Apart from the Three New Zealand Bird Songs, there are a further seven song settings of Allen dating from 1918 until 1946, as well as another half a dozen with words by other poets. The manuscripts for these unpublished songs are all held at the Hocken Library in Dunedin.

Photo: Hocken Library, Dunedin

Composed (8)

A Whimsey at Twilight

for voice and piano

Break, break, break

for voice and piano

I Live Here

for voice and piano

In the Depth of the Night

for voice and piano

The Owl

for voice and piano

The Woodland Maiden

for voice and piano

The Young Baron

for voice and piano

Three New Zealand Bird Songs

for voice and piano