Not in an Age

Not in an Age


norman lebrecht

August 24, 2009

The Age of Melbourne used to be one of the world’s serious newspapers. During the 1990s it kept its finger on the pulse and was in the market for good journalism, wherever it reared its head. Many of my own pieces were syndicated in its pages.

Lamentably, like many city papers, the Age has gone into steep decline – especially in its coverage of anything above the middle of the brow. even so, I am distressed to learn that, four days after the death of Australia’s leading pianist, Geoffrey Tozer, a Melburnian proud and true, the Age has neither recorded his passing nor bothered to publish an obituary.

This is not just dumbing down; it’s downright bad journalism. If someone interesting dies on your doorstep and you don’t bother to report it, you are not a paper where the community, local and global, turns for news.

On a warmer note, a mutual friend in Melbourne reports a Tozer anecdote. One day a student asked if they could work together on the John Ireland concerto, a piece of considerable obscurity. No worries, said Geoffrey, sitting down at the second piano and playing the entire orchestral accompaniment from memory. He was a polymath of musical byways. And how lovely to see a video of him in an unplayable De Schloezer etude on

Some respondents to my first posting have resisted my assertion that no Australian pianist since Percy Grainger has made it onto the world’s leaderboard. One of them has posted a list of contenders. Worthy, indeed, some of them – but not world leaders.