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Malcolm Gillies

Malcolm Gillies

Malcolm Gillies is a Canberra-based musicologist, and former music and opera critic of The Australian. Since 1997 he has edited the Studies in Musical Genesis series of Oxford University Press (New York).

Malcolm Gillies reviews ‘Schoenberg: Why he matters’ by Harvey Sachs

January-February 2024, no. 461 19 December 2023
Arnold Schoenberg rarely missed a punch. Whether in music theory, composition, or the fraught polemics of his age, he communicated with a clarity of purpose verging on the tyrannical. Visiting Schoenberg in California during his last years, the conductor Robert Craft commented on ‘the danger of crossing the circle of his pride, for though his humility is fathomless it is also plated all the way ... (read more)

'Mahler’s Ninth Symphony:The Australian World Orchestra’s 2023 feature' by Malcolm Gillies

ABR Arts 24 November 2023
Along with Beethoven, Schubert, and Bruckner, Gustav Mahler wrote nine symphonies. For each composer there was an incomplete, or unrecognised, tenth symphonic essay, which diligent musicologists have attempted to flesh out into meaningful ‘continuity scores’ or reconstructions. Mahler was barely fifty when he completed his Ninth Symphony and dared to tempt the fates with a Tenth; the growing s ... (read more)

'The Visitors: Christopher Sainsbury’s new opera' by Malcolm Gillies

ABR Arts 24 October 2023
The birth of a new opera is always exciting. Unlike a play or a sonata, an opera brings together a variety of art forms, with performers and creatives drawn from many different backgrounds. The libretto of Christopher Sainsbury’s The Visitors draws on a new, more gender-balanced version of an existing play, Jane Harrison’s The Visitors (2020), currently running in Sydney and Wollongong. Harri ... (read more)

'Midsummer Dreams: Mendelssohn Scottish and Beethoven Eight: ARCO at Albert Hall' by Malcolm Gillies

ABR Arts 03 August 2023
A century ago, as Australia’s nascent capital planned its performing-arts future, it opted for a ‘commodious’ assembly hall, serving conference and recreational purposes, and doubling as a municipal theatre. Completed in 1928, Albert Hall was to be the ‘centre from which will radiate all those aspirations that are truly national’, as then Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce pompously ... (read more)

'The Priced and the Priceless: Humanities and philanthropy in dark times' by Malcolm Gillies

June 2009, no. 312 01 June 2009
And now ’tis done: more durable than brassMy monument shall be, and raise its headO’er royal pyramids: it shall not dreadCorroding rain or angry Boreas,Nor the long lapse of immemorial time. (Horace, Odes, III.xxx) With what other words could one possibly begin a paper on philanthropy? Here we have the Roman poet Horace in full celebratory mode: his memorial will outlast even hard metal. ... (read more)

'2023 Sydney International Piano Competition: Opening Gala: The judges show their stuff' by Malcolm Gillies

ABR Arts 07 July 2023
At last, ‘The Sydney’ is back. Not since 2016 has the city given a live welcome to one of its most distinctive artistic events: the Sydney International Piano Competition. After frustrating years of virtual activity, planning insecurity, and structural rethinking, Piano-Plus (Piano+) has emerged as the umbrella body for presenting a wide range of competition, festival, touring, and educational ... (read more)

Australian World Orchestra's valiant national tour

ABR Arts 03 June 2021
‘Bringing the world back home’ was an early strapline of Australia’s SBS network. In those early multicultural days, it emphasised that being Australian did not restrict you from being culturally plural. It had the unfortunate implication, however, that Australia was not actually part of ‘the world’. We stood apart. Zoom forward to Covid-struck 2021, and Australia desperately wants to st ... (read more)

'La Clemenza di Tito' shines at Canberra's new National Opera

ABR Arts 14 April 2021
For nearly two centuries considered the runt of Mozart’s operatic litter, La Clemenza di Tito has taken on new life this millennium. Written in the formalistic, to nineteenth-century ears even archaic, style of opera seria, this hastily composed two-act work of Mozart’s final year (first performed in Prague on 6 September 1791) is now received as fresh, even vital, overturning an inherited vie ... (read more)

Bluebeard’s Castle | Opera Australia

ABR Arts 03 March 2021
Béla Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle was premièred amid the chaotic, final months of the Great War. Its lugubrious symphonic mood, grim libretto, and static set gained respect rather than favour from its first anxious audience. A century on, now freed from the shackles of copyright (Bartók died in 1945), the opera invites new approaches, arrangements, and settings. There is even now an an ... (read more)

Australian Festival of Chamber Music

ABR Arts 25 August 2015
Musicians like to play. Some play instruments, others play pieces, and a few, somehow, go deeper. They play ‘the music’, ideally sidelining the instrument or documentation, to connect with their audience person-to-person, even ear-to-ear. Chamber music is probably the most intimate of music’s genres. It is fundamentally about unmediated musical relationships, ‘the music’, presented withi ... (read more)