Paul Kildea, Author and Conductor
“I have always tried to work out a way of coming up with a single image or analogy or a metaphor, that makes it really clear to a non-specialist, the phenomenon of hearing that piece of music”
The conductor and author, Paul Kildea, hails from Canberra. He studied piano and musicology at the University of Melbourne before completing his doctorate at Oxford. Since his Opera Australia début in 1997, he has conducted many of today’s great artists in opera houses and concert halls throughout Europe and Australia.
In 1999 he was appointed Head of Music at the Aldeburgh Festival and, in 2003, was named Artistic Director of one of London’s most prestigious concert venues, Wigmore Hall.
Paul has also written extensively on music and culture in the twentieth century. His first three books feature the music and work of the composer, Benjamin Britten. The third, a biography, “Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century”, was published in 2013, the composer’s centenary year. The Financial Times considered it, ‘unquestionably the music book of the year’.
Paul’s latest book, “Chopin’s Piano, A Journey through Romanticism,” has just been published. It tells the captivating story of Frédéric Chopin and the fate of his Majorcan pianino, the instrument he used while residing on Majorca, where he wrote a number of his renowned “24 Preludes”. It traces musical Romanticism from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Among its protagonists are Chopin and the French novelist, George Sand, while the unexpected heroine of this book is the great keyboard player, Wanda Landowska, who rescued Chopin’s pianino in 1913.
At the heart of this book’s 24 chapters, are Chopin’s 24 Preludes. It follows the instruments on which they were played, the pianists who interpreted them, and the traditions they came to represent.
But it all begins and ends with the Majorcan pianino, which became a much-coveted cultural artifact during the Second World War, when the Nazis saw it as a symbol of the man and music, they were determined to appropriate as their own.
In this edition of Tall Poppies, Paul Kildea talks about his latest book and rising to the challenge of finding the right words to describe music. He also recalls the time in his life when the adjective – Australian – was not a positive one and shares his insatiable passion for Australia.
Chopin: 24 Preludes Cédric Tiberghien Chopin: 13 Preludes(from the 24 Preludes)Sviatoslav Richter Tokyo 1979 Bach JS: Prelude and Fugue No. 7 in E flat, BWV 852 – Well Tempered Clavier, Book I, Performed by Wanda Landowska, Harpsichord, 1949 Bach JS: Goldberg Variations –Harpsichord, Performed by Wanda Landowska (First Rec 1933)
Title: Eine Frau, die weiß, was sie will Composer: Oscar Strauß Recording: Komische Oper Berlin 2015
Title: Pelleas et Melisande Composer: Claude Debussy Recording: Komische Oper Berlin 2017
Title: Ball im Savoy, Kangaru Composer: Paul Abraham Recording: Komische Oper Berlin 2013
Title: Brahms Symphonies 2,3 and 4 Composer: Brahms, Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic Recording: OehmsClassics
Title: Symphony Nr 9 Composer: Bruckner, Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic Recording: OehmsClassics
Title: Symphony Nr 2 Composer: Gustav Mahler Recording: Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic, OehmsClassics
Title: Der Ring des Nibelungen Composer: Richard Wagner Recording: OehmsClassics
Title: Bernstein: “Glitter and Be Gay”, from Candide (Bernstein) Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Kaiserslautern Saarbrucken, Conductor Daniel Smith (Siobhan Stagg, Soprano)
Title: “Requiem”, (Brahms) Berlin Philharmonic, Conductor Christian Thielemann (Soprano Siobhan Stagg)
Title:The Lost Art of Letter Writing – Violin Concerto Performers:Violin Frank Peter Zimmermann Boston Symphony Orchestra, conductor Markus Stenz
Title:Carlo (version for live chorus and strings) Performers:BBC Singers/BBC Symphony Orchestra
Title:Three Memorials for Orchestra & Between Moments (Music for Orchestra 2003) Performers:Queensland Youth Orchestra
Title:Pastoral Symphony Performers:Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Title:Hamlet Diffraction Performers:Allison Bell, soprano Allan Clayton, tenor BBC Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Joshua Weilerstein
Title:Wendezeit for five violas Performers:Brett Dean
“There's no substitute for that very first moment when an idea is manifested. For me it's very important that everything's kind of born at the same moment because a song is words and music and I feel like they shouldn't be separated. That's my idea of a good creation!”iTunes
Title: The Yellow Shark, Frank Zappa Ensemble Modern Composer: Three Step, for horn, violin, cello (Cathy Milliken), Earth Plays I-IV Orchestral Work (Cathy Milliken) Recording: Spiral, for a soloist with a shortwave receiver, (Karlheinz Stockhausen) Trim (Cathy Milliken) Shifrorl (Cathy Milliken)