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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Grimes, Louise Catherine (1907–1990)

by Robert K. Boughen

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Louise Catherine Grimes (1907-1990), musician and schoolteacher, was born on 6 September 1907 at Lutwyche, Brisbane, third of five children of Queensland-born parents Alfred Kingsford Grimes, clerk, and his wife Lilian Elizabeth, née Maynard. Louise attended Windsor State and Brisbane Girls’ Grammar (1921-23) schools. Appointed to the Department of Public Instruction on 1 January 1924, she was a student (1924-25) at the Queensland Teachers’ Training College. Learning piano from George Sampson, she passed the examinations of Trinity College, London (ATCL, 1926; LTCL, 1928; L.Mus.T.C.L., 1930; FTCL, 1930). She studied music at the University of Adelaide (Mus.Bac., 1937) and arts part time at the University of Queensland (BA, 1942).

In the 1930s Grimes taught music full time at Windsor State School. Later she was a peripatetic singing and music specialist at Brisbane primary schools. As the department’s supervisor of music in 1941-47, she oversaw the development of music education in Queensland. In 1938-52 she also broadcast educational programs for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

On 1 June 1947 Grimes succeeded Sampson as organist and choir director at St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane. She transformed the predominantly Victorian music library to one that was more comprehensive by including previously ignored music from the Tudor period and promoting the twentieth-century liturgical repertoire. Her sister Lilian helped her to raise funds to buy not only additional scores and new choir robes, but also a fine high-fidelity sound system and recordings that were used as educational aids for the boys. Perhaps because she suffered from arthritis, Grimes had no particular reputation as a virtuoso organist. Her conducting style has been described as that of a somewhat limited primary-school teacher. Nevertheless, at the cathedral she organised the first performances in Brisbane of works such as Benjamin (Lord) Britten’s cantatas Saint Nicolas and Noye’s Fludde. She resigned as organist in 1960.

In 1957 Grimes had joined the lecturing staff at QTTC (from 1961 Kelvin Grove Teachers’ College). Transferring to the new Kedron Park Teachers’ College in 1960, she established its music department with H. R. Millett. In 1963-73 she was dean of women. Miss Grimes was remembered with affection, respect and gratitude as a gracious and compassionate lady. After her retirement in 1973 she bought a five-acre (2 ha) property at Jimboomba, where she enjoyed life as a part-time hobby-farmer, thus fulfilling a childhood ambition. Never married, she died on 5 September 1990 at Chermside and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Yarrow and J. Millwater (eds), History and Hearsay (1994)
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 30 Nov 1973, p 10, 21 Sept 1990, p 21
  • private information.

Citation details

Robert K. Boughen, 'Grimes, Louise Catherine (1907–1990)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 23 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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