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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.

John Carmody reviews ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize: A life in science’ by Peter Doherty

December 2005–January 2006, no. 277 01 December 2005
We revere Nobel laureates – and rightly. Sometimes that admiration is not repaid well, and those eminences become prey to a variant of Lord Acton’s wisdom – ‘All fame tends to corrupt’ – and consider themselves intellectual Pooh-Bahs: ‘Lord High Everything Else.’ A consequential risk of such renown is that bystanders who can see and vouch for reality are commonly unable to tell the ... (read more)

John Carmody reviews '1001 Australians You Should Know', edited by Toby Creswell and Samantha Trenoweth

March 2007, no. 289 26 August 2022
Scheherazade, you have much to answer for! 1001 nights were fine for you, but by now there might well be that number of volumes offering that much advice about books, films and paintings, not to mention screen savers and blogs. So this bulky new book should be seen first, even primarily, as a marketing opportunity. Cynical? Well, even crass mercantilism can have benefits. The value which the read ... (read more)

John Carmody reviews 'Melba: The voice of Australia' by Thérèse Radic and 'Bernard Heinze: A biography' by Thérèse Radic

August 1987, no, 93 01 August 1987
Disraeli considered that biography – in contrast to history – is life without theory, though the result of such a policy can be arid. It needs, as well, to be portrayal without betrayal, but it more often errs in the opposite direction: who is likely to write about someone for whom she or he feels an antipathy or an indifference? Yet I am inclined to think that there is a case to be made for ... (read more)

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Bayreuth Festival)

ABR Arts 01 August 2018
Barrie Kosky’s production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for the famous Wagner Festival in Bayreuth (Germany) is one of the supreme artistic peaks of my long operatic-life. It had its première last year, in the first of five consecutive annual seasons; this year – so some old hands told me – Kosky significantly revised the first part of the second act. Kosky’s achievement h ... (read more)

John Carmody reviews 'Out of Time: The Vexed Life of Georg Tintner' by Tanya Buchdahl Tintner

September 2011, no. 334 23 August 2011
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 o ... (read more)