Vale Richard Meale

Australian composer Richard Meale (1932-2009, pictured in 1972) has just died at the age of 77.   He was perhaps Australia’s best expressionist, especially in moving early works such as Homage to Garcia Lorca, and Clouds Now And Then.   In his later years, like so many 20th-century Australian  modernist composers, he turned to writing late-romantic tosh, as if the only function of composers was to support the film industry.

In honour of his memory, I repeat the profound Basho haiku which he quoted on the score of Clouds Now And Then:

Clouds now and then,
Giving men relief
From moon-viewing.

The SMH obituary is here.  An account of his funeral is here and reminiscences by composers David Worrall and Ross Edwards are here.    Andrew Ford’s eulogy is here.  A review of a memorial concert held for him in February 2010 is here.

POSTCRIPT (Added 2013-02-23):  Meale visited UCLA in 1960 on a travel grant from the Ford Foundation, and there studied and played traditional Japanese and Balinese gamelan music.   I wonder if one of his teachers was Colin McPhee, who taught ethnomusicology there from 1958.  (And how cool was that:  to be teaching ethnomusicology at UCLA in the late 50s!)

POSTSCRIPT 2 (Added 2014-08-08):  Here also is a tribute to Richard Meale’s nephew, Tony Meale.

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