Michael Shmith

Michael Shmith reviews 'The Bootle Boy: An untidy life in news' by Les Hinton

Michael Shmith
23 August 2018

One day not that far away, I suspect, hot-metal memoirs will grow cold on the slab. Thus the triumph of technology over the nostalgia of those days when journalistic skills included not on More

William Tell (Victorian Opera) ★★★1/2

Michael Shmith
16 July 2018
It has to be said straight away that William Tell is a colossal challenge, almost as much for its audiences as its performers. People talk of Wagner’s Curse (what can go wrong, usu More

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics (Victoria and Albert Museum)

Michael Shmith
27 November 2017

Opera is not a small artform. It is labyrinthine, multi-faceted, fraught with things that can go disastrously wrong (Wagner, especially), and it can be dreadfully expensive, formidably div More

Michael Shmith reviews 'Ernest Newman: A critical biography' by Paul Watt

Michael Shmith
26 October 2017

Recently, the chief classical music critic of The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, adroitly summarised the nebulous perils of his job: ‘Music, especially purely instrumental m More

Michael Shmith reviews 'The Day the Music Died: A life lived behind the lens' by Tony Garnett

Michael Shmith
30 November 2016

Tony Garnett, one of the most respected figures in British television drama, is also one of its most reclusive. Most people these days have almost certainly never heard of him, or, if they have, probably think he is a distant relation of Alf Garnett, of Till Death Us Do Part fame.

Even though the cantankerous Alf was a fictional character (played by ... More

Books of the Year 2016

Sheila Fitzpatrick et al.
23 November 2016

Originally published in German, Albrecht Dümling’s The Vanished Musicians: Jewish refugees in Australia More

Green Room: Michael Shmith interviews Brett Dean

Michael Shmith
22 August 2016

Brett Dean, perhaps Australia's pre-eminent composer and certainly one of its most productive, is personable, witty, and engaging. He talks with heartfelt eloquence about ...

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An A-Z of Alfred Brendel by Michael Shmith (Alfred Brendel: The Complete Philips Recordings) ★★★★★

Michael Shmith
01 August 2016

Why an A-Z of Brendel? Well, this is what the man himself has to say in the preface to his slim volume, A Pianist's A-Z: A piano lover's reader (2013): 'This book distil More

Stage Door | Michael Shmith interviews Leo Schofield

Michael Shmith
24 March 2016

In the early 1990s, after Leo Schofield was – not without controversy – appointed the artistic director of the Melbourne Festival, Clive James referred to our own emerging cultural tsar as 'Australia's Diaghilev'. Which, I guess, retrospectively makes Sergei Pavlovich Russia's Schofield.

There is an element of truth in James's witticism, especially these ... More

Michael Shmith reviews 'Sinatra' by James Kaplan

Michael Shmith
18 December 2015

Just in time for the Frank Sinatra centenary – 12 December should be a gazetted public holiday – comes the thumping second part of James Kaplan's monumental biography. Taken together, Volume I – Frank: The Voice (2010, 786 pages) – and its behemoth successor, Sinatra: The Chairman (979 pages), comprise a formidable and scrupulously detailed ... More

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