Amidst the plethora of centenary celebrations, let’s not forget an Australian who touched the lives of thousands.

Wagner. Britten. Verdi. In case anyone missed it, 2013 wins the musical trifecta for anniversaries. But while we are celebrating, there is another musical centenary that all Australian musicians should be aware of.

Dulcie Holland (1913-2000) is a unique voice on the Australian music landscape. She boasts no grand operas, no international premieres or best-selling recordings. She did, however, teach music theory to a generation of Australians and made a successful career as a composer, remaining a prolific, highly original and distinctly practical musician well into her eighties.

Dulcie Holland was born in Sydney on January 5, 1913. Her father, an engineer, was a keen singer, a cornerstone of the church choir, while her mother played hymns and took the family to hear The Messiahevery year. Dulcie took up the piano at six and in her teens graduated to playing organ at the Congregational Church in Vaucluse and Rose Bay. She studied at the Conservatorium with Roy Agnew and Alfred Hill, then in 1936 headed to London to study with John Ireland.

While hers was a traditional pathway for an Australian musician of...