A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

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Belle
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A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Belle » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:01 pm

This is quite an interesting read, not least because PM Keating broke the mould in more ways than one. He spoke passionately about Mahler in particular. But his relationship with the pianist who is the subject of this article, inter alia, was the reason rumours circulated for years!! (And I don't agree with his assessment of Klemperer's Brahms Requiem.) Keating says this about playing music during important Cabinet meetings when he was in government:
"I’d choose the music first because the other stuff was just dust between the floorboards". This from a man who started out in a rock band and who was the most ruthless politician!! Read on:

'If there’s an afterlife, he’s there'

Paul Keating governed to a soundtrack of classical music. And one performer moved him more than any other.

By PETER CRAVEN

From The Weekend Australian Magazine

September 28, 2019

They always gave him trouble with Geoffrey Tozer and he hated it because he loved the man. In 1988, as the most powerful treasurer in Australian history, Paul Keating had established the Australian Artists Creative Fellowships because one night he had encountered Tozer at his son’s school and instantly recognised him as a pianist of genius. He gave him grants of $90,000, he arranged for him to buy a convent in Queanbeyan, south-east of Canberra, and he personally instigated the contract Tozer would sign with the prestigious classical music firm Chandos, which would lead to him recording all of Russian composer Nikolai Medtner and much else besides. Somehow his heart, or at any rate what the Marist Brothers boy from Bankstown would be inclined to call his soul, responded to something in Tozer as if it was the key to the mystery of the world.

“I’ve done it!” Barry Jones recalls Keating ­telling his cabinet ­colleagues, who looked up in mild wonder at what new slashing reform he was ­bringing to Australian industry. “I’ve secured ­Geoffrey’s contract,” he said triumphantly. The day before he was sworn in as the 24th prime minister of Australia in 1991, Keating and his press secretary Mark Ryan spent the day painting Tozer’s bedroom in the spacious convent, the house of music, that Keating had arranged for him to acquire.

So when they attacked him over Tozer it was as if he could not believe a passion for artistry could be dismissed as an infatuated folly; it was as if this struck him as a crime against nature.

I remember the inauguration of the Creative Fellowships, the Keatings as they came to be called, with some vividness as Andrew Bolt, then opinion editor of the old Melbourne Herald, had rung me and in that neo-Dutch, curled-lip voice of his said to me, “Who does he think he is — Lorenzo de Medici?” And so I was commissioned to write what I privately called one of my Dr Goebbels pieces for Bolt, bits of intemperate rhetoric pro or con something or other. And in this case I was ­passionately pro, because it seemed such a thing of wonder that a reformist government, a rigorous exemplar of third way-ism (“bone-dry economically but socially progressive”, as Gareth Evans called it) should stoop to kiss the feet of artistic practitioners who had not had their due or found security. Bolt, to his credit, ran every word of the piece he had conceived of oppositely. “Ah, Peter, it was so over the top. I loved it even though everything you said I disagreed with.”

Not too many years later, the glory departed. John Howard abolished the fellowships. And then in 2009, Tozer died — poor, not widely known except derisively as a folly of Keating’s, his last years supposedly clouded with drink, just 54 years old.

Keating spoke at his funeral amid the neo-Gothic grandeur of Melbourne’s St Patrick ­Cathedral and what he said is the framing device and structural underpinning for a film about Tozer, a documentary by Janine Hosking called simply The Eulogy in honour of this panegyric, this formal elegiac lament from the sometime ­politician who sees the relativities of economic and political reform as so much dust between the floorboards compared to the absolutism of music.

So there they are again… this strange bond between a ­politician who conquered the Earth (or at any rate transformed his national segment of it) and the pianist who could never look after himself even to the extent of handling his own career. The Eulogy gives us the fan and the failure in a compelling and confrontational way. Richard Gill, now deceased, founding director of Victorian Opera, is depicted going off on a quest for Tozer. The tough old ­white-haired conductor and ­musical administrator becomes convinced of ­Tozer’s genius and we see him introducing his work to young music ­students as well as talking to people who backed him, and people like Mary Vallentine of the ­Sydney Symphony Orchestra who claimed Tozer was too improvisational, too wayward to be ­consistently employable.

It’s an enigma of a film, full of images of Tozer as a boy — the boy who was told by Sir James ­Darling, the famous headmaster of ­Geelong Grammar, to get out of Australia as soon as he could; the boy who won a Churchill scholarship when he was 14, and worked as a teenager with that great British composer Benjamin Britten. Throughout all this there is the extraordinary ­dexterity, the virtuosic bewilderment of the piano ­playing that seems to have sucked the soul out of Keating and left him swooning.

But the question The Eulogy raises is: how do we gauge, if we are not experts, the potential achievement of someone who, in James Joyce’s haunting phrase, had a great future behind him?

And so to Sydney, because Paul Keating had declared, amusingly or dismayingly, who can say, that the only person he could talk to about ­Geoffrey Tozer was Peter Craven. It was just over a fortnight since Bob Hawke’s death and a mere 10 days since Scott Morrison’s “miracle election ­victory”. I arrived with my partner Colin Oehring at an office in Potts Point, a few minutes away from Keating’s house. The door was ancient and much of it covered in spiderwebs. His personal assistant, Susan Grusovin, led us into a room in which the art and decor of the ages looked down from the walls and the man who was not alone in seeing himself as an icon of style stood hunched over a large desk that was half cluttered, half-empty.

Now he’s 75, stooped and looking his age. The receded hair going white and the voice murmuring as if he’s not quite certain which of life’s cavalcade of dreams he should tune in to. One of the first things he says is that there has been too little focus on Tozer’s greatness and too much on his decline. It clearly appals Keating that anyone should think that Tozer drank his ­talent away. “See, Geoffrey was never an alcoholic in my ­lifetime — in my time. And I met Geoffrey many many times. He had four Christmases with us at Kirribilli House.”

But then he adds that Tozer lost his manager, who had kept him in gigs, at least with piecemeal work, and the mother who seems to have lived through him with a burning ambition that sustained Tozer’s sense of election but perhaps never allowed him to learn to fend for himself. Nor, Keating adds, did it help that he had separated from his wife Annita and to his own palpable regret lost his focus on Tozer, which was absolutely devoted and open-hearted in its generosity.

“Somewhere along the way, I think about 2003 or 2004, he lost Reuben Feinberg, the manager. And he lost [his] mum. He was a bit unlucky with me. My wife and I separated in 1998. I would have had him up to Sydney. I said to Geoffrey, ‘I’ll paint the bedroom for you. You can move here and play to your heart’s content’. Alas, we separated and I lost track of him a bit.”

Keating had great hopes for the Tozer convent. “I bought the bloody thing from the nuns for nothing,” he says. “Massive rooms. He used to play for the Canberra Symphony Orchestra often and the government would invite him for various heads of state, for presidents and prime ministers, to come and play something.” He had it all worked out that Tozer could give masterclasses and pay off the mortgage — besides, Keating was always good to settle things for him. He had discussed with Brian Couzens, the head of ­Chandos Records, the idea of finding a British manager for Tozer because he was hyperconscious of his lack of worldliness. “But then Geoffrey was bloody useless,” he says. “He wouldn’t have the ­toilet paper in the toilet, you know what I mean?”

The paradox with his feeling about Tozer is that it expresses itself in a great personal warmth towards the talent of a man who was hopeless at looking after himself. The way he paints the ­picture of first seeing Tozer is poignant because his voice becomes so fond. “I first met Geoffrey playing at my son’s high school — the Hungarian ­Rhapsody of Liszt. As a pollie it’s very hard to get time off for these things and I thought, ‘Oh, his piano teacher’s going to play something’. But from the first great few phrases I thought, ‘This is ­wonderful’. He sounded like no one else.

“He was getting $9000 a year,” he continues, “and living in some rented accommodation of some diplomat who was abroad and let him have the house cheap. He used to go back and forth on his bicycle.” It’s as if the face of straitened circumstances becomes an intolerable thing for Keating when it is shadowed by genius. “I mean, he just had massive musical ability. Off the scale.”

Keating says Tozer could have done anything. Why not, then? “Because of Mum,” he says. “She drove him.” Was she a sinister figure? He hesitates before saying no. “It was a case of her whole life’s validation being in Geoffrey’s success, and when he won the French Diapason D’or [in 1992, for his recordings of Medtner’s concertos], she couldn’t contain herself.”

Keating talks with some pride about how Vladimir Ashkenazy, the great Russian pianist who became the chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, described Tozer’s recordings of Medtner as amazing and how the music was just “too difficult to play”. He goes on to say he was full of stupefaction about how Tozer, at the urging of Leo Schofield, performed the 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven at the Melbourne International Festival in 1994 but was largely ignored. He is almost bereft at the lack of acknowledgment.

After all this, he suddenly says: “Why did I ask you to come up? Because you wrote something that is the key to all this in that lovely piece about Piero della Francesca’s great picture of the resurrected Christ where you quoted an essayist who says he knew he was in the presence of sublimity.” And he tells us that he wants us to hear the music, at least the particular recordings, of two great works: Brahms’s German Requiem and ­Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, the first conducted by the great Otto Klemperer with Dietrich ­Fischer-Dieskau and the latter the legendary live recording by Leonard Bernstein.

All of this by way of prelude to listening to Tozer play the First Piano Concerto of Medtner. I have another stab at the emotional bond. So he was a kind of soul brother to you? “Not really. No. He never lived in my pocket or me in his.” Part of the logic of Keating’s devotion to the memory of Tozer’s artistry and his promotion of him when he was alive is, despite his disavowal, some kind of spiritual affinity. He may have been poor, he says, but he had an implicit understanding of Keating’s love of neoclassicism. There was a rage for beauty that went beyond any worldly consideration.

He is intensely proud of Tozer’s 30 recordings and the way his fellowship underpinned this record, if not of success, at least, of achievement. “Geoffrey got two of them, the fellowships, which gave him 10 years, but the output, if you look at the repertoire in the 30 recordings by Chandos, there are single piano pieces by Medtner, Respighi, Busoni: none of them ever recorded before.”

Colin then asked Keating when he had last heard his friend play. “The last time was when he did the round Australia tour [in 2004] and the Sydney Opera House component of that,” he says. “He actually slayed them that night. Slayed them. What he used to do was talk to the audience about the piece he would play and he’d say, ‘It has a theme running through it’ and he’d do a little theme and say, ‘And it does this and it does that and I hope you enjoy it’ and away he’d go.” That touch of showmanship, of raconteuring in the midst of music, returns Keating, again in ­outrage, to the question of improvisation, of a lack of ­discipline. “It’s just nonsense,” he says. “Geoffrey was the professional’s professional. If you wanted him to play Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto you were going to get every note of it. There was no way he would improvise in a major piece. But if he was playing a show by ­himself, he would if he wanted to.’’ And he hates the suggestion that the pianist who might toss a momentary bit of Click Go the Shears into ­Beethoven only when he was free to do so could be accused of being ­unreliable because of his drinking. “And then, of course, because later in his life Geoffrey started to drink, they’re forever imputing that 15 years earlier that was the reason he couldn’t be relied upon to do a performance. It’s completely untrue. It represents the bitchiness of the arts at their worst.”

James Darling had told Tozer, when he was a boy, to get out of this country as fast as he could. And yet Keating had wanted him to stay here, hadn’t he? “No,” he says. “He wanted to stay here. He wanted to make it in Australia and I used to say, ‘You’ll never make it here, they knock you over if you’re any good here, they knock you down. They just find a reason and knock you down’.”

Keating emphasises that his music, as with everything he collects visually, decoratively, ­historically, underlies anything he might have achieved in government. “The design, if you like, the inspiration, came out of the music,” he says. “I used to have Sunday afternoon meetings with the core of the expenditure review committee. They’d come round — John Dawkins, Button, Ralph ­Willis. And I’d put on — it’s a big piece — Mahler’s Third Symphony. Of course, it’s a tumult. And I’d say to them, ‘What does that tell you? What it tells us is that what we’re doing is next to nothing. So why would we f..k it up? Why would we take second quality decisions? Why wouldn’t we do better? I remember whenever we did a big cabinet meeting I’d choose the music first because the other stuff was just dust between the floorboards.”

“And that’s what Geoffrey understood too. That’s where we had a sort of unity ticket. We understood that music would lift you up. Music, for a mind, is like an electric current for an ­electric motor. Once the current comes and the magnetic impulses turn it, it’s like that when the music comes into your mind and you start ­thinking about other things. Suddenly you think, ‘We can do this, we can do that’, if you let the music carry you along.”

He grieves Tozer with a kind of pulled-back longing, thinking of the waste, thinking of the loss. “The disappointment is that we lost him at such a young age, such a stellar power. I will never again be in the presence of someone who can drift in and out of sublimity. I will never be in the presence of that stellar musical power and the great disappointment is that he is lost to all of us.”

Did he ever feel, when he was with Tozer, the genius in the fingers going from the mind and the heart, did he feel that in the person? “Not really. Geoffrey was a medium. Like Mahler, he was a medium.” He cites Mahler’s sense of being possessed, being “composed. As if he is the medium of some greater power and he is translating them.”

Behind this idea of inspiration — whatever ­metaphor you want to use — is the idea that the artist at some level is communicating the breath of God, right? “Yeah,” Keating says, “that’s right.” He says Tozer was almost embarrassed by the power of the music that came from him. “We can’t handle that superpower,” he says. “We are talking about a supernaturalism that is only revealed to the imaginative, creative kind of mind, I think. It requires a very high elevation of ­consciousness… It’s taking you to places which are the next stop to the ­eternal existence, the eternal destination, the next railway stop to that.”

So the audience, the listener or the viewer has at some level to partake of, ­however passively, the actual godhead involved in the ­artistic ­process? “Exactly.”

It’s just a bit amazing to hear the purity of this vision of art enunciated by a man famous for his command of economic austerity. It makes sense, though, of the day we had with him. We went down to a room equipped with a dazzling stereo that gave a crystalline concert hall sound. First he played the great Klemperer version of Brahms’ Requiem, a recording he had introduced Tozer to. “Listen to the way he lets the music breathe.” As he listens to the music he conducts in the air, he squeezes your arm with great intensity, with great gentleness, to the tempi of the music. “Such ­sonority,” he says. Then we come to one of the magnificent baritone solos of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sounding like an archangel, one of the treasures of his apprehension of music.

Finally we listen to Tozer, at every level on top of the supreme challenge of a Medtner concerto. We know we are in the ­presence of a power, a ­dexterity, but we cannot tell what it is. The enigma remains.

It’s as if Keating has come out of a trance, almost as if he feels cleansed. By this point, after many hours, but especially after the weird intimacy of ­listening to the music he listened to with Tozer and heard him perform, it’s as if we know him so much better. I ask what he thought while speaking at Tozer’s funeral in St Patrick’s ­Cathedral 10 years ago. Did he pray that eternal rest should be granted him by the Lord and that perpetual light should shine upon him?

For a moment he takes a sidestep. “Geoffrey was brought up as a Catholic,” he says. “But I never talked to him about what it meant to him in terms of what he believed.” Then he meets it head on. “If there’s an afterlife, Geoffrey’s there,” he says, “And if there’s not, his music is the ­closest we’ll ever get to it.”

The Eulogy is in cinemas from October 10

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Lance » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:52 pm

Wow, Sue … what a powerful article. What insight into the art of Geoffrey Tozer! I have long enjoyed his art on his Chandos CDs (I have I think 10 or 11 of them), and I did a radio tribute to him some years ago. To lose an artist with these "supernatural" powers is a huge loss to humanity and those who love great music-making. I wonder if The Eulogy will be available outside of Australia. It's something I would like to see.
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Belle
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Belle » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:58 pm

Here is Tozer playing Medtner!! But, being the connoisseur that you are, you probably have it already.

Yes, I think that film will be distributed for international consumption, but probably on television.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR30J2-PVgk

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Rach3 » Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:43 pm

Thanks for that !
I have his Chandos cd set of the complete Medtner Piano Sonatas, very fine, and a single Chandos cd of Arthur Schnabel's "Dance Suite " and Piano Sonata. Try to hear both.If I recall, Tozer did some study with a pupil of
Arthur Schnabel.Also have his cd of the three piano sonatas of Eric Korngold, the second of which Schnabel played for awhile.
His obituary in UK's Telegraph:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obitua ... -Tozer.htm

Another review of the film:
https://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/re ... e-hosking/

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Lance » Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:14 pm

Yes, I do have that! (You are getting to know me quite well! :D In fact, I have 16 or 17 of Tozer's recordings. That's how good he was!
Belle wrote:
Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:58 pm
Here is Tozer playing Medtner!! But, being the connoisseur that you are, you probably have it already.

Yes, I think that film will be distributed for international consumption, but probably on television.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR30J2-PVgk
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Belle
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Belle » Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:53 am

I think Tozer was a very fine musician but he didn't fit into the musical establishment. The quote in the article I posted from Mary Valentine, then GM of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, exemplified one attitude towards him. (Ms. Valentine was a good friend of my sister in high school. She used to come to our place when my sister conducted seances!!!) However, I did not know the extent of Tozer's recordings until I read this article today in "The Weekend Australian". And the fact that we had a Prime Minister who was passionate about music; well, that's pretty unique. In fact, this PM was a man of 'French empire clocks and Amani suits' who'd been brought up in a humble fibro cottage in Sydney's working class housing belt. He talked like a sailor (he called our Senate "unrepresentative swill" - one of his more polite monikers) but he loved, and still loves, music. This fact has often complemented some of his more vindictive outbursts. He called restaurateurs in the Sydney Rocks region (some of our elites) "bog standard restaurants run by parvenus"!! One of his most famous sayings about people he considered to be without substance was "all tip, no iceberg". :roll:

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by John F » Sat Sep 28, 2019 2:10 am

Klemperer's recordng of the German Requiem for EMI is the version I prefer. It's actually quite fast in placesw, the singing of the Philharmonia Chorus is magnificent, and many details (the horns in "Den alles Fleisch") are exciting in ways you may not expect in this music.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du4WF48fsZc
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by barney » Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:09 am

My favourite Keating insult was one he said of John Howard, the PM George Bush called a man of steel. Keating disagreed, and said he was like a shiver, looking for a spine to run up.

I only had one dealing with Keating, when I was letters editor of The Age c2001. He wrote a letter to the editor, and rang about 5pm to make sure I was going to use it. I said I was indeed, but the day after, as the next day's page had been completed. He was utterly charming, and said how much he would appreciate it if it ran the next day. I asked the editor what he thought, and the editor said "entirely up to you, Barney." So I remade the page, and included Keating's letter. The editor wandered over the next day, noting that I had run the letter, and said I had spared myself a most unpleasant phone call. Apparently Keating was famous for ranting abuse of journalists if he didn't get his way. Naively, I had not known that. A lucky escape!

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by maestrob » Sat Sep 28, 2019 9:42 am

Belle, thank you for a most powerful and illuminating article. I have Tozer's Medtner concerti, as well as the disc of Respighi pieces pictured below. Tozer had, IMHO, amazing technique but also depth of feeling in everything I've heard by him. So sad that he couldn't take care of himself.

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by barney » Sat Sep 28, 2019 5:51 pm

The only Tozer is my collection is the Schnabel CD. But I heard him in recital many times. Fine pianist.

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Belle » Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:52 pm

barney wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:09 am
My favourite Keating insult was one he said of John Howard, the PM George Bush called a man of steel. Keating disagreed, and said he was like a shiver, looking for a spine to run up.

I only had one dealing with Keating, when I was letters editor of The Age c2001. He wrote a letter to the editor, and rang about 5pm to make sure I was going to use it. I said I was indeed, but the day after, as the next day's page had been completed. He was utterly charming, and said how much he would appreciate it if it ran the next day. I asked the editor what he thought, and the editor said "entirely up to you, Barney." So I remade the page, and included Keating's letter. The editor wandered over the next day, noting that I had run the letter, and said I had spared myself a most unpleasant phone call. Apparently Keating was famous for ranting abuse of journalists if he didn't get his way. Naively, I had not known that. A lucky escape!
These anecdotes are gold!! We do miss his comments in the parliament; these made for much hilarity. And I remember him looking over at John Hewson and saying across the dispatch box, "I'm going to do you; slowly"!! And he did. (Hewson never got over it!)

But I've never doubted his huge love for music and I adored his put-downs of people like Neil Perry in the restaurant business. Keating is, of course, a phenomenal snob.

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Belle » Sat Sep 28, 2019 10:43 pm

John F wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 2:10 am
Klemperer's recordng of the German Requiem for EMI is the version I prefer. It's actually quite fast in placesw, the singing of the Philharmonia Chorus is magnificent, and many details (the horns in "Den alles Fleisch") are exciting in ways you may not expect in this music.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du4WF48fsZc
I'll give it another hearing, but just because you say so!!

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by barney » Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:03 am

My aunt sang in the Philharmonia Choir with Klemperer in the Bach Mass in B minor, c1959. It was one of the great experiences of her life. To me, Klemperer always had a majestic integrity, even if sometimes far too slow.

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by barney » Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:03 am

Remind me of the Neil Perry remark?

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by John F » Sun Sep 29, 2019 4:54 am

Another member of the Philharmonia Chorus, recruited and trained by Wilhelm Pitz, wa Suvi Raj Grubb. If you remember the name, I suppose few do, it's because he later became Walter Legge's assistant as producer of recordings for EMI, and eventually Legge's successor. He's written memoirs about that. But he wasn't well known outside the industry, not having made many outstanding opera recordings and being a writer and self-promoter like Legge, though the quality of some of his work from initial planning down to the smallest detail of choosing and editing takes were not only characteristic of his master Legge's work but have kept some of his recordings in print for more than half a century.
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by maestrob » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:20 am

barney wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:03 am
My aunt sang in the Philharmonia Choir with Klemperer in the Bach Mass in B minor, c1959. It was one of the great experiences of her life. To me, Klemperer always had a majestic integrity, even if sometimes far too slow.
Barney, I still think Klemperer's EMI issue of the Beethoven Missa Solemnis is the best on record. I agree that he could sometimes be too slow, but when I was a teenager I played his recording of Mozart Symphonies 40 & 41 over and over. They were slow and majestic, unlike the faster and more transparent Mozart we know today (see Abbado or Pinnock), but deeply compelling to my younger self. That was the style in those days. In my twenties I learned to love Karl Richter better in Bach: those are the ones I have on CD (among others), even though I sang both the B Minor Mass and the Christmas Oratorio with David Randolph in Carnegie Hall in my twenties in a more modern style.

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by John F » Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:40 pm

Klemperer's recordings of Mozart symphonies in the 1950s are not noticeably slow by the standards of the time, though nowadays the HIP crowd race through them as if to catch the train home.
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Belle » Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:15 pm

barney wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:03 am
Remind me of the Neil Perry remark?
Keating got stuck into Perry and has cohort calling them "bog standard restaurateurs and pavenus"!!! People were thunderstruck!!

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Belle » Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:16 pm

John F wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:40 pm
Klemperer's recordings of Mozart symphonies in the 1950s are not noticeably slow by the standards of the time, though nowadays the HIP crowd race through them as if to catch the train home.
I don't agree about the speed of HIP recordings. Don't confuse those musicians with Martha Argerich!! :mrgreen:

For me the Klemperer is still too leaden; music doesn't have to be leaden to be 'magisterial'. That has to do with the voices in the orchestra being brought to the fore, IMO. I have to fess up and say that I don't like huge choirs with orchestras anyway.

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by barney » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:05 am

John F wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:40 pm
Klemperer's recordings of Mozart symphonies in the 1950s are not noticeably slow by the standards of the time, though nowadays the HIP crowd race through them as if to catch the train home.
Agreed. To me, the music has to breathe. When musicians are struggling just to get the notes, that is missing the point.

barney
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by barney » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:08 am

Belle wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:16 pm
John F wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:40 pm
Klemperer's recordings of Mozart symphonies in the 1950s are not noticeably slow by the standards of the time, though nowadays the HIP crowd race through them as if to catch the train home.
I don't agree about the speed of HIP recordings. Don't confuse those musicians with Martha Argerich!! :mrgreen:

For me the Klemperer is still too leaden; music doesn't have to be leaden to be 'magisterial'. That has to do with the voices in the orchestra being brought to the fore, IMO. I have to fess up and say that I don't like huge choirs with orchestras anyway.
Well, I suggest that if it's leaden it can't be magisterial. The problem here is the subjective side. To me, magisterial involves authenticity, integrity, masterliness. Leaden means it is dragging, missing vitality. These descriptions, magisterial and leaden, are contradictions.

barney
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by barney » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:12 am

Belle wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:15 pm
barney wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:03 am
Remind me of the Neil Perry remark?
Keating got stuck into Perry and has cohort calling them "bog standard restaurateurs and pavenus"!!! People were thunderstruck!!
That snuck by me at the time. But, for my 60th birthday, we went to Rockpool, Perry's Melbourne restaurant. More than $300 for the two of us, two courses each, for what my wife considered mid-range suburban pub food. My steak, a wagyu, was $95. It was probably worth a third the price. The one thing I remember favourably was shaved truffles at $33 a gram - only time I've had the unadulterated thing, and it was pretty special.
So my impression is that Keating had it pretty much right.

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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by John F » Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:34 am

Here's Klemperer's Jupiter Symphony from 1954, one of the earlier Mozart recordings I spoke of. The slow movement is taken quite slow, as was typical at the time, but the tempos of the other movements are not slow at all - indeed Klemperer has time to take the exposition repeat in the finale which nobody was doing back then. Nothing leaden about the Philharmonia Orchestra's playing.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SONlDLgx0Gw&t=331s
John Francis

maestrob
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by maestrob » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:39 am

For the record, John, I was referring to Klemperer's 1965 stereo remake, as issued on this CD:

Image

Also, I find I now prefer Abbado's 40 & 41 with the Mozart Orchestra: a model of transparency and orchestral detail, not rushed at all:

Image

Belle
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Belle » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:10 pm

barney wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:08 am
Belle wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:16 pm
John F wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:40 pm
Klemperer's recordings of Mozart symphonies in the 1950s are not noticeably slow by the standards of the time, though nowadays the HIP crowd race through them as if to catch the train home.
I don't agree about the speed of HIP recordings. Don't confuse those musicians with Martha Argerich!! :mrgreen:

For me the Klemperer is still too leaden; music doesn't have to be leaden to be 'magisterial'. That has to do with the voices in the orchestra being brought to the fore, IMO. I have to fess up and say that I don't like huge choirs with orchestras anyway.
Well, I suggest that if it's leaden it can't be magisterial. The problem here is the subjective side. To me, magisterial involves authenticity, integrity, masterliness. Leaden means it is dragging, missing vitality. These descriptions, magisterial and leaden, are contradictions.
Fair enough. For me, a lot of Klemperer's work is far too slow. As you said, it's all subjective anyway.

And it isn't just HIP which is regarded as too fast. Watch this performance of Kleiber with the Concertgebouw in 1982. Many people regarded his Beethoven Symphony No. 7 (particularly the final movement) as way too fast but I find it absolutely thrilling:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3-jlAamGCE

Rach3
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Rach3 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:45 pm

Belle wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:10 pm
Many people regarded his Beethoven Symphony No. 7 (particularly the final movement) as way too fast but I find it absolutely thrilling:
My imprint when I was 12-13 perhaps, Toscanini,NBC Symphony,RCA,1951:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_p6m-_nE54

barney
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by barney » Tue Oct 01, 2019 5:34 pm

Belle wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:10 pm
barney wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:08 am
Belle wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:16 pm
John F wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:40 pm
Klemperer's recordings of Mozart symphonies in the 1950s are not noticeably slow by the standards of the time, though nowadays the HIP crowd race through them as if to catch the train home.
I don't agree about the speed of HIP recordings. Don't confuse those musicians with Martha Argerich!! :mrgreen:

For me the Klemperer is still too leaden; music doesn't have to be leaden to be 'magisterial'. That has to do with the voices in the orchestra being brought to the fore, IMO. I have to fess up and say that I don't like huge choirs with orchestras anyway.
Well, I suggest that if it's leaden it can't be magisterial. The problem here is the subjective side. To me, magisterial involves authenticity, integrity, masterliness. Leaden means it is dragging, missing vitality. These descriptions, magisterial and leaden, are contradictions.
Fair enough. For me, a lot of Klemperer's work is far too slow. As you said, it's all subjective anyway.

And it isn't just HIP which is regarded as too fast. Watch this performance of Kleiber with the Concertgebouw in 1982. Many people regarded his Beethoven Symphony No. 7 (particularly the final movement) as way too fast but I find it absolutely thrilling:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3-jlAamGCE
And of course we adapt. My introduction to the Beethoven symphonies was the 1950s Philharmonia/Klemperer. I loved them. Today, like you, I often find them slow (though not leaden :)) because we have all been influenced by HIP.
Mind you, as many other comments on this thread show, you don't have to be hip to hop, ie prefer faster tempi.

Belle
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Belle » Tue Oct 01, 2019 5:37 pm

The Toscanini/NBC really is excellent; I like that tempo myself. I don't know anyone from the HIP movement who plays at that speed. In a sense that lively reading just further demonstrates what a genius and revolutionary Beethoven was. I mean, come on: what a symphony!!!! He really was the M-A-N!! Toscanini wasn't half bad himself. I've just realized that he would have been 30 when Brahms died.

Agree Barney. I'm listening to the Toscanini as I write this. Beethoven is saying to the other symphonists "EAT MY DUST"!!! (Brahms nearly choked on it!!)

Rach3
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Rach3 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:57 pm

I enjoy Beethoven 7 more than his 3,5,9. But,overall, if I get just one composer's works on that desert island,it's Brahms.

Belle
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Belle » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:03 pm

Rach3 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:57 pm
I enjoy Beethoven 7 more than his 3,5,9. But,overall, if I get just one composer's works on that desert island,it's Brahms.
What an impossible decision; choosing one of these over the other!! The least of the Beethoven symphonies I listen to these days: 1, 5 and 8, and I've pared down my hearing of the 9th. There is only so many times you can hear it!! And even then the 2nd movement is the best part for me. But I adore the "Eroica", I have to say. (Cliche alert)..At the end of the day it's the Beethoven Piano Sonatas which form the non-negotiable bedrock of my love for this composer.

Rach3
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Rach3 » Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:12 am

Belle wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:03 pm
.. I've pared down my hearing of the 9th. There is only so many times you can hear it!! And even then the 2nd movement is the best part for me.
For me , as well. Fortunately, I'm not off to a desert island anytime soon I hope ,especially since may be getting harder to find one not under water.

barney
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by barney » Wed Oct 02, 2019 6:18 pm

Belle wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:03 pm
Rach3 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:57 pm
I enjoy Beethoven 7 more than his 3,5,9. But,overall, if I get just one composer's works on that desert island,it's Brahms.
What an impossible decision; choosing one of these over the other!! The least of the Beethoven symphonies I listen to these days: 1, 5 and 8, and I've pared down my hearing of the 9th. There is only so many times you can hear it!! And even then the 2nd movement is the best part for me. But I adore the "Eroica", I have to say. (Cliche alert)..At the end of the day it's the Beethoven Piano Sonatas which form the non-negotiable bedrock of my love for this composer.
Me too. I over-indulged in 5 and 9 when young. But, unlike the 4 Seasons, which I don't care if I never hear again, especially as the "hold" music on phone calls, I haven't lost sight of how great these works are. I agree also about the piano sonatas as the bedrock, to which I would add the piano concertos and violin concerto. Less accessible but even more profound, the late string quartets.

Rach3
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Re: A former Australian PM's relationship to music and one musician

Post by Rach3 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:33 am

Rach3 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:45 pm
Belle wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:10 pm
Many people regarded his Beethoven Symphony No. 7 (particularly the final movement) as way too fast but I find it absolutely thrilling:
My imprint when I was 12-13 perhaps, Toscanini,NBC Symphony,RCA,1951:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_p6m-_nE54
Here is pianist Konstantin Scherbakov playing the last mov. of LvB # 7 in the Liszt transcription,Naxos cd I have, amazing job by both in capturing the essence and sound of that mov:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNQDrXKjk9w

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