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Robert Keane : Associate Artist

I like to write serious music that is also fun; and fun music that can be pretty darn serious.

Random Audio Sample: Three songs from Shakespeare's Twelfth night (unspecified voice with chamber ensemble) by Robert Keane, from the CD O for a muse of fire

Photo of Robert Keane


Robert Keane (b. 24 March, 1948), pianist, composer and conductor, was born in Townsville and completed his schooling in Sydney where, in 1965, he took second place in New South Wales for piano and theory. He won a scholarship to study piano with Alexander Sverjensky at the NSW Conservatorium, and, later, with Nancy Weir at the Queensland Conservatorium, where he graduated in both piano and composition.

He studied, as a postgraduate student, at the Guildhall School of Music, London and the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, and completed a Master's Degree in composition at the University of London. His composition teachers include Edmund Rubbra, Einojuhani Rautavaarra, and Benjamin Britten. He was awarded a PhD from the University of London for his thesis on the complete solo songs of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

Keane has written many scores for the theatre, including Dance North's A Moon of Our Own, and Tropic Line's Lucky Me!, based on the life of Gladys Moncrieff. He was the first Musical Director of both the Queensland Theatre Company and the Queensland Theatre Orchestra. He has toured regularly in UK, Europe, Australia and the USA as accompanist and associate artist. Australian artists he has worked with include Johnny O'Keefe, Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush, Geraldine Turner, Judi Connelli, Barry Otto, Julie Anthony, Graeme Connors, Jill Perryman, Bille Brown, Carol Burns and others.

He also had success in popular music, and worked for many years as musical director for numerous musicals both in Australia and the UK, and for the BBC TV's Black and White Minstrel Show. He has recorded with his own jazz trio, and is well known for his irreverent The Other Side of Robert Keane, which features the witty songs of Noel Coward, Flanders & Swan, Tom Lehrer and his own scurrilous creations. He is known for his ability to cross-over with total ease from serious 'classical' to tongue-in-cheek commentary.

He returned to Townsville in 1990 and was appointed Artist-in-Residence at James Cook University where he founded the Music Academy and was its Director until 1994. Since then he has worked in Europe, USA and Australia, as a pianist and examiner. In 2012, he took up full-time teaching at St Joseph's Nudgee College in Brisbane.

In 1994 he established the music publishing company, Wits' End Music. Many of his new 'popular'-style works are on the ANZCA and AMEB syllabuses, and are recorded on CD. In 1995, Keane wrote the official music for the Waltzing Matilda Centenary Celebrations and in 2005 was appointed the writer of Aural Studies for the AMEB's new MusicCraft syllabus. He wrote the Theory of Music Textbooks Grades 4, 5 and 6 for ANZCA.

His recent works include Music for John Bell - 5 Shakespearean Portraits for Wind Quintet, Fantasy for 2 pianos in memoriam Nancy Weir, Sonata for trumpet and piano, and Duet-Teen-o for alto sax, Bb clarinet and piano.

Robert Keane — current to January 2016