One of Ardoch's famous performing artists, 1945-52

John Tallis


Pianist and composer John Tallis (1911–96) mixed in famous theatrical circles as he was the son of Sir George Tallis: a great theatrical entrepreneur of the day who was Managing Director of the theatrical firm Williamson, Garner and Musgrove, later known as JC Williamson Ltd.

Born in 1911, John was educated in Melbourne and because of his parents’ connections often spent time in the company of famous performing artists such as ballerina Anna Pavlova. In 1929 John sailed with his parents to Europe to further his musical training. He studied composition in Paris with the organist Marcel Dupré and piano with Henri Etlin. In 1931, after the financial crash of 1929 and the subsequent devaluation of the Australian pound making Paris a very expensive place to live, John moved to London to study at The Royal College of Music. After spending the 1930s travelling back and forth between Europe and Australia, John finally returned to Australia in 1940, joined the army during WWII and helped on the family’s property at Wagga Wagga.

He lived at Ardoch after the end of the Second World War between 1945–1951/2. It was a time, he recalled, when he was trying to settle down to music again – and experiencing success with ballet composition and broadcasting. In the safety and privacy of the Ardoch community, he shared a flat with Jimmy Palmer.  John continued to mix in Melbourne society and an afternoon party held by him at Ardoch was reported in the 8 October 1947 edition of The Bulletin. The guest of honour was singer Linda Parker. Other guests included his sister, politicians, overseas guests, artists and performing artists such as Roy Shepherd, well-known pianist and ballet star Rachel Cameron. [1]

During his time at Ardoch John agreed to take on the responsibility of the family’s mansion Beleura on the Mornington Peninsula, making it his life’s work to preserve the house and its legacy. He remained involved in music becoming the Composer-of-Honour in the Department of Music at Monash University in 1995. After his death in 1996, he bequeathed Beleura, its collections and the Tallis Foundation to the people of Victoria.[2]

1 The Bulletin, vol. 68, no. 3530, 8 October 1947, p. 21, accessed 7 December 2022

2 Beleura website:, accessed 7 December 2022