Tag Archives: Geoffrey Tozer

Paul Keating on Geoffrey Tozer

Geoffrey Tozer (5 November 1954 – 21 August 2009) was an Australian classical pianist and composer. A child prodigy, he composed an opera at the age of eight, and became the youngest recipient of a Churchill Fellowship award at 13. His career included tours of Europe, America, Australia and China, where he performed the Yellow River Concerto to an estimated audience of 80 million people. Tozer had more than 100 concertos in his repertoire, including those of Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Medtner, Rachmaninoff, Bartók, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Gerhard.

Tozer recorded for the Chandos label, beginning with the works of Nikolai Medtner. He was regarded as a “superb recitalist” and had the ability to improvise, transpose “instantly” and reduce an orchestral score to a piano score at sight. Tozer won numerous awards and much recognition worldwide, but suffered comparative neglect in Australia, during the last years of his life.

After Geoffrey Tozer’s death in 2009 aged only 54, former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered the eulogy at a memorial service at St Patrick’s Cathedral.  Although the service was a celebration of Geoffrey Tozer’s life, a few minor chords had to be sounded to place things in proper context. As Mr Keating pointed out, Tozer was largely ignored in his native country. His last performances with the Melbourne and Sydney symphony orchestras were 1994 and 1995, respectively.

”The people who chose repertoire for those two orchestras, and who had charge in the selection of artists during this period, should hang their heads in shame at their neglect of him,” Mr Keating said. ”If anyone needs a case example of the bitchiness and preference within the Australian arts, here you have it….In the end, [Tozer’s] liver failed. But I think I have to say we all let him down … We should have cared more and done more.”

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