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Paul Kildea

Paul Kildea

Paul Kildea is the author of Benjamin Britten: A life in the twentieth century (2013) and Chopin's Piano: A journey through Romanticism (2018). He lives in Melbourne and is Artistic Director of Musica Viva.

Paul Kildea reviews 'The Silent Musician: Why Conducting Matters' by Mark Wigglesworth

September 2019, no. 414 26 July 2019
Of all the tributary footage screened in the days following the death of Bob Hawke, one short sequence jarred. In it, Hawke conducts the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and orchestra in the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel’s Messiah, jerking and twitching in response to the well-drilled ensemble, showing admirable bravura in the face of such a magnificent disconnect between cause and effect. ‘C ... (read more)

Paul Kildea reviews 'Fryderyk Chopin: A life and times' by Alan Walker

March 2019, no. 409 22 February 2019
The author and critic Richard Ellmann died in May 1987, a handful of months before the publication of his biography of Oscar Wilde. Twenty years in the making, the book instantly established a benchmark in literary biography. Psychologically astute and critically nuanced, Oscar Wilde invites the reader into a world of bourgeois values – moral and artistic – that leads so tragically to the grim ... (read more)

Paul Kildea reviews 'Debussy: A painter in sound' by Stephen Walsh

November 2018, no. 406 26 October 2018
‘Chopin is the greatest of them all,’ Claude Debussy told his pupil Marguerite Long, ‘for through the piano alone he discovered everything.’ This ‘everything’ had a long shadow, for Long described Debussy as ‘impregnated, almost inhabited, by [Chopin’s] pianism’. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the young Debussy composed a Mazurka and some Nocturnes, and then later, between 1909 and 1 ... (read more)

András Schiff (Melbourne Festival)

ABR Arts 23 October 2018
In introductory remarks that neither added to nor subtracted from the generously proportioned recital to follow, András Schiff – back in Melbourne for the first time in more than twenty years – explained that an entire program of Brahms would have been too morose, so instead he had put him alongside composers Brahms ‘admired and knew and loved’. This included Felix Mendelssohn, an ‘und ... (read more)

Paul Kildea reviews 'The Novel of the Century: The extraordinary adventure of Les Misérables' by David Bellos

May 2017, no. 391 28 April 2017
Visiting the actor Simon Gleeson in 2014 a few months after he was cast as Jean Valjean in a new production of Les Misérables, I was startled by the bulked-up friend who met me from the train. ‘What the hell?’ I asked. ‘I have to lift a cart,’ he replied. It is not a bad exegesis of Victor Hugo’s sprawling novel and the musical it gave rise to. And it is an anecdote that would probably ... (read more)

Paul Kildea reviews 'Beethoven for a Later Age: The journey of a string quartet' by Edward Dusinberre

August 2016, no. 383 21 July 2016
There is a moment early in the 'Heiliger Dankgesang' movement of Beethoven's Quartet Op. 132 when, without ceremony, an alien, courtly trio is plonked down into the poised chorale underway. It is out of place, secular, overheard: we are left wondering how and when Beethoven will take us back to the chorale, which he duly does, courtesy of a few pivot chords and some shadowy harmonies. It is like t ... (read more)
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