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#1256586 - 08/26/09 03:03 PM Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009)
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1980
Loc: Salt Lake City
The great Australian pianist, long a champion of obscure composers--Medtner amongst the most prominent of these--died last week:


OBITUARY: Geoffrey Tozer. Pianist. Born Mussoorie, India, November 5, 1954. Died Melbourne, August 20, age 54.

"PIANIST Geoffrey Tozer was one of the most gifted musicians this country has known. Born in the Indian Himalayas, he began piano lessons with his mother before moving to Australia at the age of four. A child prodigy, he gave his first public performance at age five at the St Kilda Town Hall; at eight he appeared on ABC television with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, playing Bach's Concerto in F minor. By 12 he had performed all five of Beethoven's piano concertos across Australia; two years later he was the youngest semi-finalist in history at the Leeds International Piano Competition.

In 1970, Tozer made his BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall, performing Mozart with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Colin Davis. During the following years he performed widely across Europe and the US, receiving a host of awards, including a gold medal in the Arthur Rubinstein competition in Israel in 1980 and Hungary's Liszt Centenary medallion in 1986.

Despite this international success, Tozer struggled to support himself in Australia and in the mid-1980s he took a job teaching music at a school in Canberra.

There he met Paul Keating, then the treasurer, who was inspired by Tozer's "greatness and his poverty" to establish the Australian Artists Creative Fellowships for artists in mid-career.

Tozer was awarded two consecutive fellowships, allowing him to travel to London and immerse himself in recording. He recorded a staggering 36 discs for the Chandos label, championing the works of lesser-known composers.

His recording of the Medtner piano concertos won a Diapason d'Or prize and was nominated for a Grammy award in 1992; and his recording of Roberto Gerhard's Piano Concerto was awarded Britain's Gramophone Critics Choice for recording of the year in 1998.

Tozer's knowledge of the piano repertoire was encyclopedic and he thrilled audiences with his ability to improvise on any theme in any style. Extemporisation lay at the centre of his art: his performances, though technically commanding, unfolded with an unstudied freedom and spontaneity.

There was a copiousness to his talent that demanded an outlet and he was a generous teacher who gave unstintingly to students, frequently without payment. In recent years, he taught at the Australian National Academy of Music and at the University of Melbourne, where he was appointed piano fellow in 1998.

His student Leigh Harrold remembers him as "a gentle, humble man who was always generous with his time and spoke about music with a childlike awe and wonder that I never failed to find extremely moving".

Despite his gentlemanly manner, Tozer had a mischievous sense of humour and was not averse to controversy.

"He was wonderfully and terribly outspoken and suffered every benefit and disadvantage from being outspoken," a senior music industry figure recalls. In 1997, Tozer announced he was moving to Europe to escape the provincialism of Melbourne; friends observe that had he followed through with this threat, he might have enjoyed more frequent engagements in this country.

In 1996, Tozer was devastated by the death of his mother, followed by that of his long-time manager, Reuben Fineburg, in 1997. In the absence of this support, he struggled to manage his career and his health began a gradual decline. However, he continued to give concerts and toured frequently to China. His 2001 performance of the Yellow River Concerto was broadcast to an audience of more than 80 million.

The same year he gave a performance in Berlin of the music of Artur Schnabel, before Schnabel's family. This had special resonance for him, as Schnabel's student Maria Curcio had been one of his cherished teachers, alongside Eileen Ralf, Keith Humble and Theodore Lettvin. His final performances took place in Bendigo in June this year, with cellist David Pereira, a colleague he greatly admired.

One of Tozer's many enthusiasms was Australian pianist Noel Mewton-Wood, whose brilliance and precocity - and untimely death - foreshadowed his own.

Tozer died at home last week from complications resulting from liver failure. Keating describes this loss as a national tragedy, but it has hardly made headlines.

"Had he been a boneheaded footballer who was biffing fellow players and chasing women down hotel corridors late at night he would have probably had a premium on his career," Keating observes. "But to have been among one of a handful of the world's greatest pianists with all of that learning and comprehension was not quite up to it."

Nonetheless, Tozer leaves a substantial legacy: in his discs for the Chandos label; in his copious recordings archived at the ABC, many of which I hope will be released; in the joy he has brought audiences worldwide; and in the inspiration he offered to a younger generation of Australian musicians.

The place I like to remember him is at ANAM, 10 years ago, where I was one of a small group of piano students huddled around him at the piano while he played us Medtner sonata after Medtner sonata.

An authoritative, mesmerising sound poured from the instrument as afternoon gave way to evening, then to night, but his face above it was that of a child, eyes sparkling with joy, innocent before music."




In my brief interactions with him (trying to set up some 2 piano concerts which sadly never came to pass) he was unfailingly kind, generous and a gentleman. His artistry will be sorely missed.


Edited by Thracozaag (08/26/09 03:06 PM)
_________________________
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http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
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#1256609 - 08/26/09 03:36 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: Thracozaag]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Never heard of him, but RIP. frown
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Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1256715 - 08/26/09 05:40 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: Horowitzian]
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3915
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
Thanks for bringing him to our attention, Koji.

Discs available through Arkiv Music are HERE.
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There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians

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#1256736 - 08/26/09 06:04 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: Thracozaag]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5936
Loc: Down Under
Your post is right to say it's "hardly made headlines" - I didn't know he'd died until one of my students told me. There is an obit in today's paper however:
Geoffrey Tozer
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Du holde Kunst...

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#1256742 - 08/26/09 06:15 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: currawong]
dannylux Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 1819
Loc: Connecticut
Check out Tozer's playing of the Andante Cantabile, Op.1 No.1 from Eight Mood Pictures on Vol.3 of his complete Medtner.

Exquisite.

Music sample here:

Medtner Tozer Vol.3


Mel
_________________________
My Recordings

"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving." Katharine Hepburn

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#1256748 - 08/26/09 06:35 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: dannylux]
Brendan Online   content



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5317
Loc: McAllen, TX
noooooooooooooo
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http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#1256779 - 08/26/09 07:23 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: Brendan]
pianovirus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/07
Posts: 951
Loc: Basel, Switzerland
RIP.
There are also several recordings of him on Youtube, and also some recital videos. I just listened to his recording of Medtner's op. 11/1 - warm, poetic sound, comtemplative, more inward- than outward-oriented. I like it a lot.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kH12jCIrjM
_________________________
youtube.com/user/pianovirus

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#1256866 - 08/26/09 10:11 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: pianovirus]
William A.P.M. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 554
Loc: Ecuador
Koji, this post was news to me!

to think that I was always over-looking his Medtner recordings!

another loss for the music world...

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#1256869 - 08/26/09 10:17 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: pianovirus]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: pianovirus
RIP.
There are also several recordings of him on Youtube, and also some recital videos. I just listened to his recording of Medtner's op. 11/1 - warm, poetic sound, comtemplative, more inward- than outward-oriented. I like it a lot.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kH12jCIrjM


Thanks for linking to that. I may have to get some of his Medtner. smile
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1256898 - 08/26/09 11:36 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: Horowitzian]
Janus K. Sachs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
What a loss.

I actually prefer Tozer's Medtner sonata cycle (on Chandos) to Hamelin's.
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurcke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

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#1257717 - 08/28/09 09:09 AM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: Janus K. Sachs]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
Very sad story indeed - there's a reasonably good page on this guy on Wikipedia...
_________________________
Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
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Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780

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#1257722 - 08/28/09 09:15 AM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: jnod]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
me dummy.


Edited by keyboardklutz (08/28/09 10:44 AM)
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1257763 - 08/28/09 10:07 AM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: keyboardklutz]
heidiv Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/21/09
Posts: 579
Loc: piano bench, usually
A "national tragedy" and a tragedy for us all.

Please look at the new thread regarding the Unsung Heroes E-cital


Edited by heidiv (08/28/09 12:26 PM)

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#1257789 - 08/28/09 10:38 AM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: heidiv]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
What an amazing musician! You couldn't tell from his bearing if he was playing forte or piano. From pianissimo to fortissimo, it just seems to come out of his mind!

_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1257812 - 08/28/09 10:54 AM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: keyboardklutz]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1250
Loc:
Such sad news ... i agree with Janus, his Medtner sonatas are my favourite. I would 've thought he was older though - RIP

Thanks Koji

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#1257956 - 08/28/09 02:19 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: keyboardklutz]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8890
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
What an amazing musician! You couldn't tell from his bearing if he was playing forte or piano. From pianissimo to fortissimo, it just seems to come out of his mind!


What a poignant tribute (such a wistful morsel from Liszt's late years) to a great pianist who gave us so much. Goodnight, dearest.
_________________________
Jason

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#1258133 - 08/28/09 06:04 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: argerichfan]
gerg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/07
Posts: 1651
Loc: Houston, TX
Has everyone had a chance to peruse the following proposal?:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...tml#Post1257761

I can think of no more fitting epitaph to this under-appreciated artist than a recital in honor of him and the unsung champions of the score he sought to honor during his life.
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#1258140 - 08/28/09 06:13 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: argerichfan]
gerg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/07
Posts: 1651
Loc: Houston, TX
kbklutz, Jason, that's probably my favorite Liszt piece. Thank you for honoring this man's memory.

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#1279147 - 10/02/09 05:41 AM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: Thracozaag]
PlayWellOneDay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/16/06
Posts: 45
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Paul Keating's eulogy (delivered yesterday) can be found here.

Beware of the abridged version on the home pages today of both The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. They at least have a link to the real one.

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#1279305 - 10/02/09 11:43 AM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: PlayWellOneDay]
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2613
Loc: Not in Texas
I'm somewhat behind in my reading and am only now seeing this. What a loss! The world will be a much poorer place without his artistry. I've owned and treasured his complete Medtner sonatas and concertos for years. They set the standard for other pianists incredibly high. I'm going to play them today in his honor.
_________________________
Greg

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#1279378 - 10/02/09 01:23 PM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: BB Player]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3796
Loc: Bay Area, CA
I've barely heard of Medtner, but the online Naxos Music Library has the complete piano works... all recorded by Geoffrey Tozer. I'm looking forward to listening. RIP.

-Jason
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1281538 - 10/06/09 02:49 AM Re: Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009) [Re: beet31425]
Oz Marcus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/09
Posts: 457
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
It is such a tragedy that someone so talented can be so ignored in his own country. I think that the arts have really suffered in Australia. While we pour millions of dollars into sport we neglect the arts. The cuts in funding to the Australian National Academy of Music is a cultural crime!

RIP Geoffrey, you will be sorely missed.

M
_________________________
Oz Marcus
Currently working on:
Schubert Impromptu in C minor - D899
Chopin Prelude Op28 No 15, nocturne Op48 no 1
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