Geoffrey Tozer (1954-2009)

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Australian pianist dies at the age of 54
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Australian pianist Geoffrey Tozer has died at the age of 54.

A performer of remarkable flair and power, Tozer was perhaps best known to British audiences for his dazzling recordings of lesser known repertoire on the Chandos label – his complete survey of Medtner’s sonatas and concertos in particular are considered by many a ‘must-have’ of any record collection.

Born in India, then raised in Melbourne, Tozer’s career started early. He made his professional debut, playing Bach’s Concerto in F minor with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, at the age of eight and then, at 14, became the youngest ever semi-finalist in the Leeds International Piano Competition.

As his career progressed, his talent became admired at the highest level in his own country – so much so, that the then-Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating personally made a visit to Chandos’s MD Brian Couzens to champion the pianist’s cause.

Other notable discs of his on Chandos include Korngold’s sonatas and Respighi’s concertos, the latter recorded under the baton of the late Sir Edward Downes. Arguably the highlight of his concert career, meanwhile, was when he performed all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas over seven concerts in 11 nights in Melbourne in 1994.