Peter Tregear

Peter Tregear is a performer, academic, and critic. He has recently been appointed the inaugural Director of Little Hall at the University of Melbourne. Published works include Ernst Krenek and the Politics of Musical Style (2013).  

‘Peter Grimes: A magnificent new production of Britten’s opera’ by Peter Tregear

ABR Arts 18 March 2022
‘Peter Grimes: A magnificent new production of Britten’s opera’ by Peter Tregear
Sadly, stage productions of Benjamin Britten and Montagu Slater’s opera Peter Grimes are now few and far between in Australia, notwithstanding the fact that the work’s exploration of psychological distress and social ostracisation has lost none of its currency. Britten’s score, while incorporating significant modernist musical elements, also remains both accessible and attractive. And Austra ... (read more)

‘Jonny spielt auf: Ernst Krenek’s timeless opera in Munich’ by Peter Tregear

ABR Arts 15 March 2022
‘Jonny spielt auf: Ernst Krenek’s timeless opera in Munich’ by Peter Tregear
Despite being one of the most successful and influential operas of all time, Ernst Krenek’s Jonny spielt auf (1926) is now something of a stage novelty. We are inclined to assume, perhaps, that the operatic genre it spawned, the Zeitoper, contained the seeds of its own obsolescence. As a new production at the Gärtnerplatztheater in Munich demonstrates, however, the work retains a capacity to sh ... (read more)

‘The Grainger Trap: At the altar of the curator’s moral superiority’ by Peter Tregear

ABR Arts 24 February 2022
‘The Grainger Trap: At the altar of the curator’s moral superiority’ by Peter Tregear
Australians might be forgiven for thinking that the history of classical music – as an art form with origins in Europe – is something that happens elsewhere, that we are little more than observers (and listeners) of a tradition that is essentially the property of others. Melbourne-born Percy Grainger (1882–1961), however, presents us with an unambiguous claim to being a classical composer of ... (read more)

Blood on the Floor: Mark-Anthony Turnage’s orchestral suite

ABR Arts 14 April 2021
Blood on the Floor: Mark-Anthony Turnage’s orchestral suite
The writer and academic Malcolm Bradbury once argued that we can find traces of the chaos, contingency, and plurality that typify the modern urban environment embedded in the structure of the modern novel or in the design and form of modernist painting. But in music? I think it is fair to say that classical composers have struggled to find similes as obvious, potent, or effective for the experienc ... (read more)

Monteverdi's Vespers | Pinchgut Opera

ABR Arts 26 March 2021
Monteverdi's Vespers | Pinchgut Opera
In a Reith lecture delivered in 2017, Hilary Mantel noted that we ‘don’t reproduce the past, we create it’. It’s an observation that holds as true for the historical performance movement as much as it does for historians more generally. An especially apposite example of it is the rise of Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 to prominence as a concert piece over the past seventy-five year ... (read more)

Peter Tregear reviews 'Australian Universities: A history of common cause' by Gwilym Croucher and James Waghorne

March 2021, no. 429 22 February 2021
Peter Tregear reviews 'Australian Universities: A history of common cause' by Gwilym Croucher and James Waghorne
International education, we are told, is Australia’s third-largest export industry; in 2019 it was valued at more than $32 billion annually. But it is now also one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. The publication of Gwilym Croucher and James Waghorne’s history of Australia’s universities, one of the principal institutional drivers and beneficiaries of that industry, is thus timely, even i ... (read more)

'In defence of lost chords: Classical music’s struggle for relevance and survival' by Peter Tregear

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
It is now taken for granted that nothing which concerns art can be taken for granted any more: neither art itself, nor art in its relationship to the whole, nor even the right of art to exist. Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory   Those of us who work in classical music will be familiar with the accusation that our chosen art form lacks contemporary social relevance. It is one with a long ... (read more)

The Sound of History: Beethoven, Napoleon and Revolution (Adelaide Symphony Orchestra)

ABR Arts 10 March 2020
The Sound of History: Beethoven, Napoleon and Revolution (Adelaide Symphony Orchestra)
Towards the end of last year, in advance of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, a US-based musicologist caused a stir by suggesting that we should mark the occasion by following Chuck Berry’s advice and let Beethoven roll over, at least for a year. The declining social capital afforded to such ‘classical’ music across the West has not, it seems, stopped some music aca ... (read more)

The Selfish Giant (Victorian Opera)

ABR Arts 21 October 2019
The Selfish Giant (Victorian Opera)
‘Victorian’ may have become for us a byword for hypocrisy and repression, but it’s not hard to find literature of the day that plays against this grain. The Victorian fairy tale is certainly one place where authors did find covert ways to explore challenging social themes, albeit under the cover of the prescription ‘for children’. Authors who experimented with this modernised folk genre ... (read more)

Peter Tregear reviews 'British Music Criticism and Intellectual Thought 1850–1950' edited by Jeremy Dibble and Julian Horton

April 2020, no. 420 03 September 2019
Peter Tregear reviews 'British Music Criticism and Intellectual Thought 1850–1950' edited by Jeremy Dibble and Julian Horton
When the German social commentator Oscar A.H. Schmitz described England as ‘Das Land ohne Musik’ [The Country without Music], the insult stuck. Its veracity arose not because the English lacked a vibrant musical culture, or a lively intellectual class prepared to engage with what they were hearing. Rather, it was because Schmitz believed the English simply did not consider music to be an art f ... (read more)
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