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Richard Meale (1932-2009) : Represented Artist

Random Audio Sample: Nocturnes : for orchestra with solo celeste, vibraphone and harp by Richard Meale, from the CD Nexus, Nocturnes


Photo of Richard Meale

Born in Sydney in 1932, Richard Meale studied piano, clarinet, harp, history and theory at the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, but in composition remained self-taught. In 1960 he was awarded a Ford Foundation Grant which he used to undertake studies in non-Western music at the University of California in Los Angeles, where he concentrated on Japanese court music and Javanese and Balinese gamelan.

With his Sonata for Flute and Piano (1960), Meale focussed local attention on the methods of the international avant-garde which were then not well-known in Australia. The Sonata won for Meale the Ford Foundation Grant and was performed at the 1963 World ISCM Festival in Amsterdam.

After returning to Australia, Meale joined the Music Department of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, where for seven years he made an important contribution to national radio with special programs of Asian and contemporary music. As a pianist, lecturer and broadcaster, conductor and composer, Richard Meale played a crucial part in the propagation of avant-garde music in Australia. He has given the first local performances of works by Boulez, Bussotti, Castiglioni and Messiaen, as well as conducting the Australian premiere of Schoenbergís Pierrot Lunaire with Marilyn Richardson. During this time, his own music was generating considerable interest within Australia and in 1965 Dean Dixon performed Homage to Garcia Lorca in Europe.

With Images (Nagauta) in 1966, Nocturnes (1967), Very High Kings (1968), ...Clouds Now and Then, Soon it will Die (1969), (1969), Interiors/Exteriors (1970), Coruscations (1971), Incredible Floridas (1971) for Peter Maxwell Davies and The Fires of London, Evocations (1973) for Paul Sacher and the Collegium Musicum of Zurich, and with his String Quartet (1975), Meale achieved international recognition and was represented at festivals such as ISCM World Music Days, Warsaw Autumn Festival and the Paris Rostrum, as well as frequently broadcast on European radio. In 1969, Meale was appointed to the University of Adelaide, where he was Reader in Composition until 1988.

In works such as Viridian (1979) and String Quartet No. 2 (1980), Meale has shown a further change of direction with the introduction of more lyric elements. This process continued into Voss, his first opera, which premiered in Adelaide in 1986. In 1989 Meale was awarded an Australian Creative Fellowship. His second opera, Mer de Glace, again with libretto by David Malouf, premiered in Sydney in October 1991. Meale's first Symphony premiered at the Adelaide Festival in March 1994. The Wihan Quartet's Australian debut tour for Musica Viva included the first performance of his String Quartet No. 3, which was commissioned by Kenneth Tribe to commemorate Musica Viva's 50th birthday in 1995.

Melisande for solo flute was premiered in 1996. In 1998 the Lights Ensemble performed Lumen for the Centenary of the Adelaide Conservatorium. Palimpsest was commissioned by the Griffith Ensemble and premiered by the Lights Ensemble at the Barossa Music Festival in 1999. In 2002, his Three Miro Pieces was performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Richard Meale died in Sydney, aged 77, on 23 November, 2009.


Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Three Miró pieces : full orchestra (2002) Commissioned by Symphony Australia.
String quartet No.3 : string quartet (1995) To commemorate Musica Viva's 50th Anniversary
Digital sheet music sample Evocations (oboe with chamber orchestra) (1973) Commissioned by Paul Sacher.
Coruscations : for piano solo (1971) Commissioned by Roger Woodward.
Incredible floridas : sextet (1971) Commissioned by Fires of London.
Variations : full orchestra : youth orchestra (1970) Commissioned by Australian Society for Music Education for ASME Conference, Brisbane

Analysis & Media

Book: Try whistling this : writings about music / Andrew Ford.

Book: The music of Richard Meale / Michael Hannan.

- Document: Profile - Richard Meale , Rita Williams discusses the twists and turns of modern music with Australian composer Richard Meale.

- Article: Odd man out brings his many talents to town

- Article: Creating a musical mandala

- Article: Dawn of a new world symphony

- Article: Across her bridge of dreams

- Video: Incredible floridas (Peter Weir short film)