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Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS): Projects based on DOMUS collections

Directory of South African Music Collections


A lack of funding, staff shortages, and time constraints in the archives, libraries and document centres environment are all factors that inhibit research. This directory addresses these issues by collating information on special music collections in South Africa in order to stimulate music research on South African materials in South Africa and internationally. In an effort to cover the widest possible spectrum in music research, the directory provides the location and status of documents and collections.

This directory was initially part of a Masters study, funded by the South African Music Archive Project (SAMAP). It also draws on the technical expertise of Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service systems engineer, Wouter Klapwijk.

Although only a number of national, provincial and tertiary institutions are currently represented in this directory, DOMUS aims to expand the ddirectory by including further institutions in the aforementioned categories and private collections.

Search Tips and Updating Information

Keeping this directory updated and relevant is an enormous task; therefore, institutional cooperation is highly valued for the success of this project. Access the Directory here.

Source: Written by Santie de Jongh

Eoan Group book project


The production of grand opera, full scale ballets, dramas, choral concerts and arts festivals as well as the education of numerous singers, dancers and actors count among the wide range of cultural achievements of the Eoan Group from 1933 until the late 1970s. Situated in District Six and later in Athlone, the group played an important role in Cape Town’s cultural life. For many of those involved with the group in those days, it was their life’s calling, despite the difficult circumstances caused by Apartheid policies.

The publication of a book, celebrating the extraordinary history of the Group, became a prerequisite when the contract concerning the transfer or the Eoan Group Archive to Domus was negotiated. A series of public consultations with members of the Eoan Community followed in 2008 and a book committee was created consisting of individuals directly (and indirectly) related to the Eoan Group as well as DOMUS staff.

In the course of 2009 our book team has been able to do 47 interviews with individuals who were involved with the Eoan Group at some stage of their lives and this book will endeavour to preserve the history of the Group through the direct quotation of the memories that have been shared. The interviews have again brought to our attention the enormous effort that people have invested into the arts through the group, the extraordinary circumstances in which they had to operate and the formative role that the group played in so many lives.

The process of the making of this aural history book is still underway. In 2010 the interviews have been transcribed and excerpts will be arranged in chapters guided by themes such as opera and ballet productions, the early years of the group, various individuals, training, dress making, touring and politics. If all goes according to plan the manuscript for the book should be ready for submission to a publisher by the end of the year. All interviews have also been filmed by the Cape-based film maker, Aryan Kaganof, and will be moulded into a documentary on the process of the making of the book.

Source: Written by Hilde Roos

Photograph: Cloete Breytenbach


On Thursday night, 31st January, a prestigious event organised around the launch of the oral history book, Eoan - Our Story (2013) took place as part of the Suidooster Festival in Cape Town. This festive occasion included an exhibition entitled, Op die Planke, 1956-1975, and a concert of some of Verdi’s well-known arias, sung by Vanessa Tait-Jones, Minette du Toit-Pearce, Friedel Mitas, Lukhanyo Moyake and Garth Delport, accompanied by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Minor Hall in the Cape Town City Hall was filled to the brim for the book launch with an expectant audience spilling out into the corridor. In his opening speech, Prof Russel Bothman, rector of Stellenbosch University, noted the value of this event for broadening and enriching our understanding of South Africa’s past. Patricia de Lille, the major of the City of Cape Town focused her speech on the political importance of the group, while Ruth Fourie, widow of the baritone singer Lionel Fourie, spoke about the process of making this book via a book committee including academics and members from the community, instead of a single author.

The book, edited by Dr Hilde Roos, a post-doctoral research fellow at DOMUS, and Wayne Muller, recounts the story of the Eoan Group who staged the first full-scale opera productions in South Africa. Compiled out of more than forty interviews with members of the Eoan Group the material is skilfully curated, constructing a narrative that tells the story of the group from its establishment in 1933 through its heydays of opera production, and eventual demise. At times hilariously funny and deeply moving it is a stirring account of the struggles and sacrifices, hopes and dreams of the group members during the apartheid regime. One large factor that attributed to the personal tone of the book is that the register of the spoken language was not changed by the editors. In the introduction to the book they note that this was important to them, “because language editing was potentially another way in which the stories told by the interviews could be over-written and misrepresented by institutional concerns” (Roos & Muller, 2013:x). What emerges is a unique account of making music in a turbulent time in South Africa’s history.

Even though the Eoan Opera Group formed an active part of Cape Town’s cultural life for more than two decades, today, few remember their extraordinary history. This history is displayed in the exhibition entitled Op die Planke, 1956-1975, on show for the duration of the Suidoosterfees. The exhibition is curated by Dr Lizabé Lambrechts, a post-doctoral research fellow at DOMUS, assisted by William Fourie and built by Henk Dekker. Constructed out of archival material preserved by DOMUS, the academic work of Dr Hilde Roos and oral history material from the book Eoan - Our Story (2013), this exhibition celebrates the extraordinary achievements of the Eoan Group. It examines the story of the group as remembered by individuals, contextualised in historical and political events in South Africa that forever changed the physical and cultural landscapes in which the group operated. This exhibition presents a look at the dynamics of opera production in a time and in places subject to involuntary removals of coloured communities in Cape Town. In a sense, the history of Eoan’s opera performances trace the physical spaces where performances took place and illustrate the restrictions imposed on the company as apartheid legislation intensified. The course of opera history in Cape Town traverses the Isaac Ochberg Hall in District Six, the Cape Town City Hall, the Alhambra Theatre, the Green and Seapoint Civic Theatre and the Joseph Stone Theatre in Athlone. Place therefore plays an important role in narrating Eoan’s history in this exhibition. The exhibition is presented in silence as a reflection on the destruction caused by apartheid to the South African landscape and, concomitantly, the silencing of its many voices.

Russel Bothman noted in 2008 when the Eoan Group Archive was donated to DOMUS: “Somewhere in our past, we know, thanks to these people and their perseverance, there existed voices that sang and did not stop singing. Somewhere in our past, in the darkest hours, there was music that was not drowned out by bulldozers or the sound of gunfire. We want to hear that, I think, as the sounds of hope that never lost courage” (Bothman in Muller, 2013: xvii). This night’s events, which ended with the singing of arias that once formed part of the core repertoire of the Eoan Opera Group, celebrated this hope and strove to honour the largely forgotten history and legacy of the Eoan Group members.

Source: Written by Lizabé Lambrechts
(February 2013)

Hidden Years Music Archive Project


In November 2013, the Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS) received a large donation of material from David Marks, owner of the 3rd Ear Music Company. Established in 1967 by Ben Segal and Audrey Smith, the company functioned as an independent record label mostly operating in Johannesburg and Durban. Their aim was to protect, promote and produce live-music performances that were not heard within the mainstream record and broadcast industries due to the political or non-commercial nature of the material. David Marks joined the company in 1970 as a sound engineer and one year later took over the ownership, production and management of the company.

What makes this collection significant to researchers, teachers and students is the tremendous collection of sound recordings (music and spoken word), photographs, posters, programs, documents, press cuttings, notebooks and diaries that were collected by the company from 1960 to 2000. The collection has been estimated to contain around 175 000 items including live music, festivals, theatre and studio recordings that represent diverse musical styles ranging from Urban Folk and Township Jazz, to Country Rock and Maskanda.

David Marks remained an active participant in the South African musical landscape for most of his life working as a sound engineer, performer and also as a composer – some of his hit songs include Master Jack, Hey Nico and Mountains of Men. In the late 1960s Marks travelled to America where he worked as a sound engineer for the Bill Hanley sound company – doing his first live sound mix at the legendary Woodstock festival for John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band. Upon his return to South Africa, Bill Hanley donated his sound system (used at the Woodstock festival) to Marks, which allowed him to work at various music festivals in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho and Botswana – all of which were photographed and recorded by Marks. Some of the musicians represented in this collection include Shiyani Ngcobo, Madosini, rare early performances of Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu (who later formed the group Juluka), folk singer Phil Ochs, the Malombo Jazz Makers, Allen Kwela, Kippie Moeketsi, Jeremy Taylor, Roger Lucey, Colin Shamley, Mike Dickman, Cornelia [Blundell], Carlo Mombeli, Laurika Rauch, Hawk, live recordings of Hugh Masekela playing in Lesotho and performances of Lefifi Tladi, to name but a few. The sound recordings also include various plays and musicals performed at the Market Theatre, Dorkay House and the Bantu Men’s Social Club in Johannesburg, and recordings of various union meetings and political speeches.

Material was also donated to Marks including recordings documenting the folk scene in Zimbabwe and donations from ethnomusicologists such as Dave Dargie and David Rycroft. Other collections donated to David Marks that now form part of the collection preserved at DOMUS, include the entire collection of Ben Segal and material from John Gregg who ran a recording studio in Port Elizabeth under the Bootleg label.

In 2013 DOMUS launched a project aimed at ordering and cataloguing the 3rd Ear Music / David Marks collection. This project will also strive to expand the collection through oral history projects, thus enabling further research on these important historical documents. A further objective is to determine the feasibility of a digitisation project and if viable to raise the necessary funds to see to its actualisation. This will not only make the collection accessible to national as well as international scholars, but broaden the possibilities of creative outputs. Ultimately, the goal is to make this collection accessible to researchers, students and teachers and to introduce these materials to the scholarly community and the public by means of research and creative outputs such as an exhibition.

Lizabé Lambrechts holds a PhD in Musicology on the subject of power and politics in South African music archives. She is a post-doctoral research fellow at DOMUS, Stellenbosch University, where she is working on the 3rd Ear Music / David Marks project: Making accessible South Africa’s unknown music history: Sorting, cataloguing and curating the Hidden Years Music Archive.

David Marks* Dr. Lizabé Lambrechts

*Photograph courtesy of Sinkins, E. [provided by L. Lambrechts]. 2011. You can’t stop the music. The Witness, December, 5. [Online]. Available: [2011, November 30].

(Information provided by Dr. Lizabé Lambrechts, February 2014)
DOMUS is launching an exciting new project to open the 3rd Ear / David Marks collection for national as well as international researchers, musicians, artists and students. This collection contains irreplaceable material documenting the South African musical landscape through the turbulence of apartheid to the early years of democracy. It represents musicians that were not recorded by the mainstream record companies or received radio airtime, but nevertheless had large followings at concerts, clubs and festivals throughout the country.
In order to raise public awareness of this archive, DOMUS will host a one day music festival in March 2015 drawing on the musicians represented in the archive. Up and coming singer/songwriters will also be invited to perform songs contained in the collection. Continuing with the legacy of making live recordings, which form the bulk of the 3rd Ear / David Marks collection, this concert will be recorded live and released on CD/DVD. Apart from giving a public forum to the music and musicians represented in this collection, the concert will also serve to highlight the importance and possibilities of community involvement in preserving South Africa’s national heritage through making use of the crowd sourcing platform, Kickstarter, to fund the concert.
The following three years (2015 – 2018) will be invested towards unlocking the archive through intensive archival work ranging from unpacking, sorting, and cataloguing. A feasibility study will be undertaken to investigate the possibilities of digitisation, and post-graduate students will be encouraged to volunteer their time towards these efforts. Post-graduate scholarships will be made available to students who wish to focus their research on archives not only as places containing information but as valuable sites for investigation. As such research will be encouraged that looks both towards archival practice and its link to the informational content of the archive.
This phase will conclude with the publishing of a catalogue book containing information, photographs, lists, essays and recordings of the material contained in the collection. Potential for other creative projects such as a travelling exhibition and concerts will also be investigated. In addition, an oral history project focused on gathering information regarding the South African Folk Music Association (SAFMA) will run concurrently with the process of unlocking the archive.
Phase three of this project (2018-2020) will serve to conclude the oral history project. Efforts will be made towards making these interviews accessible to the public through a webpage, publications and exhibitions.
For more information about the project and to follow our progress please visit or find us on twitter with @HYMAProject.

Mike Dickman, Johannesburg, 1972. Photographer: Tony Campbell [provided by L. Lambrechts].
Contact: For more information on the Hidden Years Music Archive project, please contact Dr. Lizabé Lambrechts at or +27 (0)72-372 4140 (office hours).
(Information provided by Dr. Lizabé Lambrechts, June 2014)