Tanya Buchdahl Tintner: Out of Time

In the manner of great tragedy

John Carmody


Out of Time: The Vexed Life of Georg Tintner
by Tanya Buchdahl Tintner
UWA Publishing, $39.95 pb, 448pp, 9781742582566


A cluttered portrait inevitably diminishes its subject. I am thinking, in particular, of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his gallery in Brussels, by David Teniers the Younger, in which the Habsburg aristocrat is like an ant among his scores of pictures. This happens with biographies, too. A satisfying example is far more than an expansion of the subject’s curriculum vitae or a thorough examination of his appointment diary. When the author has strong feelings (as a widow inevitably does), the problem is aggravated. This new biography – of an extraordinary musician who might, in different circumstances, have contributed far more to Australia than he was allowed to do – is both partisan and prolix, and is as littered with quotidian details as the Teniers painting is with canvases. In both cases, these objects and details are too small to engage our attention usefully or thoroughly.

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John Carmody

John Carmody

John Carmody studied Medicine at the University of Queensland: during that time he edited the student paper, Semper Floreat, for a year and co-edited the literary magazine, Galmahra.  He then spent four decades as a physiologist and pharmacologist in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of NSW in Sydney. Over that time he also had several periods working in universities and research institutes in Germany.

In 1978 he succeeded David Malouf as the writer on opera and concert music for the National Times and, after that paper closed, wrote for the Australian Financial Review and the Sun-Herald. He has contributed extensively to the Australian Dictionary of Biography and to a number of substantial encyclopedias and reference publications.  His book reviews and other articles have appeared in virtually every significant Australian publication and in a number overseas as well.  He writes on opera for Opera [London] and Opernwelt [Berlin].

He has broadcast frequently on ABC radio, notably on music, religion, history, and medicine, and, later in 2011, will contribute to a symposium on modernism at the NGV Melbourne in association with the major exhibition on the Viennese Secession movement.

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