Ex-Wigmore chief lands Aussie job

Ex-Wigmore chief lands Aussie job


norman lebrecht

June 03, 2019

Australia’s Music Viva circuit has named Paul Kildea as its incoming artistic direvtor.

Kildea was head of music at the Aldeburgh Festival 1999–2002, and artistic director of Wigmore Hall 2003–05. He has since written books on Britten and on Chopin’s piano.

At Musica Viva he replaces the composer Carl Vine, who has held the job for 20 years.




  • R. Brite says:

    He was an interesting blip in Wigmore history. I’ve often wondered if his trying to do too much, too soon in the way of innovative programming didn’t in fact make it easier for Gilhooly to phase in the thriving programme the hall presents today.

    • David B says:

      That is absolutely spot on. Gilhooly is a wonderful director of the Wigmore, artistically but also diplomatically – he is craven and obsequious and obsessed with the trappings and the glory in a way Kildea never was (to his detriment). Kildea’s innovations were too much for his tenure to bear but laid the ground for Gilhooly’s very successful years in a way, one ponders, JG could never have done by himself. Kildea will be a wonderful AD for Musica Viva and his programming will be well worth watching. Gilhooly remains a very strong and safe pair of hands for WH and I hope he stays for a long time.

  • batonbaton says:

    He wasn’t best liked by the Wigmore tenure during his brief tenure, frequently shoved out of the way by those who have been going there longer than he’s been alive. At the time he left it was reported he wanted to pursue a conducting career but that hasn’t taken off anywhere of note, so he started writing turgid tomes on ephemeraic topics. Was unfortunate to be the stop-gap between Bill and John – and probably not there long enough to see many of his plans come to fruition.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Isn’t Kildea Australian?

  • RW2013 says:

    ooooold photo…

  • Furzwängler says:

    Someone do correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it Kildea who fairly recently published a new biography of Chopin? A biography which was panned by various reviewers, among them in the Sunday Times and Spectator magazine?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Not a biography, a book on Chopin’s piano. And it was widely praised.

    • anon says:

      Several years ago, Kildea published a new biography of Britten with certain claims about his health which many (including Britten’s last GP) considered to be fatuous. That book got some positive reviews, but I know for a fact that at least one reviewer, hereafter known as R, was “bought off” in the sense that, shortly after receiving the book for review, Kildea contacted R with a really interesting little bit of genuine research that gave a project R was doing at the time a huge boost. R had planned to write a very scathing review (I know this because R told me verbally), but, after receiving that message from Kildea, changed tune completely. Kildea may argue that he never actually put any explicit pressure on R, and may even argue that he had no idea R was reviewing the book, but the timing all seems too convenient.

  • wigmore hall donor says:

    Kildea was a disaster for Wigmore Hall. I was one of the many donors who stepped in the clean up the financial and artistic mess, when he departed. I was also one of the many donors and audience members who quit supporting the Hall, while he was there.

    I vividly remember the huge sense of relief from internationally acclaimed artists and audiences, when he finally left. All this is confirmed by a quick Google search.
    (Read Stephen Everson in Prospect Magazine in 2005 and 2006 for an undiluted account of the
    Kildea tenure)

    I was intrigued by the comments on this forum which claim
    his very brief tenure kick-started some sort of golden artistic era for the Hall.

    I have collected all of the Hall’s season brochures since 1993. Here are the facts: Kildea promoted a bit of jazz, so did Bill Lyne before him! He promoted a Ligeti Series, as did Bill Lyne before him! Most of all, he promoted HIMSELF by mounting a very expensive series of Mahler arrangements, conducted by himself, to show off his minor conducting abilities, all paid for by Wigmore Hall. 15 years later, he has an almost non-existent conducting career. I remember well how the musicians of The Nash Ensemble sneered at his conducting ability, and how he often unbooked a far more established name, and gave the gigs to himself as a conductor at the Hall.

    True, Kildea introduced a few new names to us, but no more than any competent artistic director would have done. The long list of artists he booked that we have never heard of since is far more revealing…….

    The press release which Musica Viva put out proclaiming Kildea of some sort of artistic messiah is hard to read. Really? It claims he “revitalised” Wigmore Hall. All that in two years? What about the Australian who spent 40 years as director before him, or the Irishman who quietly cleaned up his mess and is still going strong? I only agreed to support Wigmore when it reinstated its song competition which Kildea abolished and i also noticed that they sacked his chosen resident string quartet before they even started.

    And what about all of us who duginto our pockets and saved the Hall from financial ruin. I wish Kildea well, everybody is entitled to a second chance and he is a brilliant writer, despite his dubious and unproven claims about Britten’s sexual health.

    I hope he will be accepted better in his native land than his was here. (His tenure at Aldeburgh was not without controversy either) Most of all I hope he has a better relationship with artists and audiences.

  • Wendy Collier-Parker says:

    He is a great musician and human being. They will not be unhappy to have him.