At last, a premier assessment
August 26, 2009 by Norman Lebrecht
The Australian has just taken note of the death of the nation’s leading pianist, Geoffrey Tozer, almost a week after the sad event. But unlike the belated and bone-headed coverage in the Melbourne Age, the national Murdoch paper has got in a proper reaction – from the former prime minister Paul Keating.
Never one to mince words, Keating lays into his country’s dumbed values, saying of Tozer:
“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. 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.”
This is pretty much what you read here earlier in the week, but coming from a national leader, it stands out as a massive indictment of Australian priorities. Not that it will make any difference.
The writer of the obit recalls that Tozer was to be found at his finest at the national academy of music, ANAM, where he taught and where I met him a couple of years back. Since then ANAM has been shut down by the federal government. In a land that abhors tall poppies, there can be no centre of national excellence.
Advance, Australia fair…
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