The Saga of the Sydney Opera House: The Dramatic Story of the Design and Construction of the Icon of Modern Australia

By Peter Murray | Go to book overview

PREFACE

In 1966, as Editor of the student section of The Architect's Journal, I commissioned a drawing by Martin Sharp of Oz magazine which caricatured a grotesque Australian politician boasting of having forced the Danish architect Jørn Utzon to resign from the Sydney Opera House (page ii). Sharp's critical and incisive view of the Opera House affair, describing the philistine destruction of genius, was to stay with me for the next 35 years.

However, as I researched the design and construction of the Opera House an altogether more complex and difficult story than the one encapsulated in Sharp's cartoon began to emerge.

I have dug through archival papers that have not been read for 35 years, read oral histories that have only become accessible after the author's death and had access to unpublished personal accounts written by some of the leading protagonists. I have studied the mass of information and drawings that are available in archives in Sydney and in the UK. Such a complex story, made up of a series of intertwining tales, is hard to tell in chronological order. However I have attempted to do so in order to give as close a reflection as possible of the actual events.

I have spoken to many people about the project who have been very helpful in the preparation of the text. My thanks are particularly due to Jack Zunz, David Messent, Bill Wheatland, Marit Tronslin, Ian Patrick, Harry and Penelope Seidler, James France, Martin Sharp, Derek Sugden, Bob Essling, Anne Minors, Hannah Weir, Sutherland Lyall, Warwick Mehaffey, Minty Smyth, Rob Dusting, Brian Perry, Trevor Dannatt, Andy Dunican, James Thomas, Professor Bjorn Peterssen, Anthony Blee, Anne Kriken, John Rourke, Michael Taylor, Martin the driver for West Bus in Penrith, the staff at the Mitchell Library and, of course, my long-suffering family.

In any story such as this, the tale can be told from a variety of angles. Each version may be true, but it will be different in tone and in its views of the

-vii-

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The Saga of the Sydney Opera House: The Dramatic Story of the Design and Construction of the Icon of Modern Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Dramatis Personae ix
  • Important Dates xii
  • Introduction xv
  • Chapter 1 - A Magnificent Doodle 1
  • Chapter 2 - Collaboration and Creativity 23
  • Chapter 3 - The Move to Sydney 39
  • Chapter 4 - A Quart into a Pint Pot 52
  • Chapter 5 - The Turn of the Screw 72
  • Chapter 6 - 'You Have Forced Me to Leave' 92
  • Chapter 7 - The Aftermath 115
  • Chapter 8 - Ars Longa, Vita Brevis 136
  • Bibliography 157
  • Index 160
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