Reginald Stoneham

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Stoneham in 1919

Reginald Alberto Agrati Stoneham (1879 – 11 March 1942) was an Australian composer and publisher of mostly topical songs, and a musical comedy F.F.F. He was perhaps Australia's leading exponent of jazz and ragtime piano styles in the first decades of the 20th century as both composer and performer. He was also a popular accompanist and recording artist.


He was born in Carlton, Victoria in 1879 to musician William (ca.1833 – 25 March 1913) and Ellen Stoneham (ca.1846 – 10 February 1889) of 210 Madeline Street Carlton. Ellen was William's second wife, and mother of Harry, Herbert, Fred, Will, Bertha, Reg, Elsa; William's third wife Annie Grace (ca.1850 – 22 September 1938) was mother of Theo, Algie and Arthur.

In 1899 he married Adelaide Minnie "Addie" Lyons (d. 1959), daughter of Augusta Rachel (ca 1853 – 2 March 1934) and Jonah Aaron "Joe" Lyons (d.27 July 1916) of Unley, South Australia.

They had a daughter Val Augusta Elsa Stoneham on 10 April 1902.[1]

In 1900 he was on the force of the South Australian Contingent (to South Africa) as a trumpeter. His trade was listed as "wood turner".[2] He was buried with the ritual of the Returned Services League [3]

He lived at St Kilda, Victoria from 1918, initially in Princess Street, perhaps later at 29 Orange Grove, East St Kilda as per a copyright notice in 1930, and at the time of his death at 3 Robe Street, St Kilda.[4]

Ill and unemployed, with an invalid wife and daughter to support, he petitioned for bankruptcy in 1936.[5] He had never adapted to the new demands of radio broadcasting, and the vogue for Australian sheet music had dried up.


F.F.F., styled as a "mystery musical comedy", underwritten by Hugh D. McIntosh and devised by promoter-businessman C. J. De Garis who also wrote the lyrics to music by Stoneham, starring Maggie Moore, Rex London, Minnie Love, Billy Rego, Hugh Steyne, Marie Le Varre and Charles H. Workman. The "mystery" centred on the meaning of the enigmatic title, for which solutions were solicited and a prize offered. The show opened 28 August 1920 at the "Prince of Wales" theatre (previously "Tivoli", now "Her Majesty's") Adelaide for a successful season, followed by a week in Perth and a fortnight in Melbourne, where the "Argus" critic praised the songs but lambasted the play.[6] It was never revived.
Among the sixteen songs were:

  • The Murray Moon [1]
  • The Courtship
  • The Aussie Glide
  • Wait For Me
  • A Garden of Girls
  • O-O-Omeo
  • We Feel Fine
  • Coo-ee

Other compositions[edit]

as "Alberto Agrati"
  • The Hesitation Valse-tango 1914 [38]
  • I've Got a Motorbike (waiting for you) [39]
  • Viceroy Tea Waltz [40][11]

Further reading[edit]

  • Van Straten, Frank Play it Again Reg in Theatre Heritage Australia: on stage part 1. in Vol.11 no.3 WINTER 2010 p. 10; part 2 in Vol.11 no.4 SPRING 2010 p. 42
  • Van Straten, Frank. The Riddle of 'FFF', A Forgotten Australian Musical Comedy Australasian Music Research, No. 6, 2002: 105–119. Availability:;dn=755888837969038;res=IELHSS ISSN 1325-5266
  • Hill, Jennifer, "Stoneham, Reg(inald) A. A.)", in Oxford Companion to Australian Music (ed. Warren Bebbington) (Melbourne: OUP, 1997), p. 532


  1. ^ Family Notices The Advertiser (Adelaide) 14 April 1902 p.4 accessed 2 July 2011
  2. ^ South Australian Imperial Contingent South Australian Register 25 April 1900 p.8 accessed 31 July 2011
  3. ^
  4. ^ Stoneham v. Stoneham The Argus (Melbourne) 11 May 1904 p.5 accessed 2 July 2011
  5. ^ Misfortunes of Musician Angus (Melbourne) 15 July 1936 p.10 accessed 31 July 2011
  6. ^ Music and Drama Argus (Melbourne) 11 October 1920 p.8 accessed 27 July 2011
  7. ^ Stoneham, Reginald A. A., 1879–1942; Come to Mildura Committee; Archive CD Books Australia (2005), Come to Mildura the land of winter sunshine: souvenir & song, Archive CD Books Australia, ISBN 978-1-921081-71-2 
  8. ^
  9. ^ The Appeal for Men Sydney Morning Herald 3 November 1915 p.12 accessed 2 July 2011
  10. ^ Hobart Travel League Mercury (Hobart) 22 October 1930 p.3 accessed 2 July 2011
  11. ^

External links[edit]