A Bridge in the Fanfare for the Workers of Sydney

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

It’s made of iron and rivets and paint. Tons of it.  It crosses the beauty of Sydney Harbour and spans two sides of the emerald city of Sydney, NSW.  It’s orientation catches the light of the sunrise to the east and frames the perfect sunsets in the west.  When you cross it at night the light zooms up from below to catch the strong arch, home to thousands of bats and insects which fly around up there.  The Australian flags fly at it’s zenith and seem to state something for the nation of Australia.  You see flags are a rarity in Australia, compared to the USA, where everyone has one.  In Australia only important buildings have a flag to fly.  Up on the bridge there are flags flying on the great creation of the workers 80 years ago today.  Dr John Bradfield’s original idea and masterpiece developed from around 1900,  it opened on 19th March 1932 amid much fanfare.  Notably in true Australian style, someone stole the show on a horse and cut the ribbon with his sword.

Today 80 years on the sun was shining in the morning, as I crossed the bridge on the train.  It is the feast day or St. Joseph patron saint of the worker. It took about 100,000 man years of work to create it. No computers calculating the odds, no adding machines, it was all done on slide rules and rooms of drawings and sketches all calculated down to the point where expectedly the two  sides of the bridge met.

Of course everyone has seen the bridge, it really gets a birthday every year on New Year’s Eve when it acts as the mounting bracket for thousands of fireworks to help celebrate the new year.  Yes, although originally set up to carry traffic linking the two sides of Sydney Harbour, the bridge has developed into a performance space for the common man.

As I was crossing, looking up into the arch this morning, musicians from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra were scaling the bridge and getting ready to play.  It was their anniversary as well I understand.  A fitting choice of piece being Aaron Copland’s “A Fanfare for the Common Man”.  This piece was in fact originally commissioned by Eugene Goossens whilst he was conducting orchestras in the USA, who eventually became the first permanent conductor of the Sydney Symphony.  I like the piece, I wish I had heard it, but the wind and the rain probably carried the sound to where only the seagulls and St Joseph and maybe Dr John Bradfield, who conceived the design and who made it his own quest in the early part of the 20th century.  Happy Birthday Sydney Harbour Bridge !!

— See report on the bridge fanfare – 


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