Inspired by former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s searing eulogy for Geoffrey Tozer, music educator Richard Gill explores the remarkable and tragic story of Australia’s greatest ever, and perhaps most overlooked, pianist.
Born in India but raised in Victoria, the late Geoffrey Tozer was a child prodigy who played with the Victorian Symphony Orchestra when he was nine years old, and at 13 became the youngest ever recipient of a Churchill Fellowship. He was a virtuoso pianist and improviser with an unprecedented repertoire, whose career saw him lauded around the world. But in Australia he struggled to achieve recognition, despite the well-documented patronage of then Treasurer Paul Keating. Tozer died in poverty in 2009, aged 54; at his memorial service, Keating delivered a characteristically unforgettable 45-minute address.
Supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund and drawing extensively on Tozer’s own archives, The Eulogy sees Keating re-stage his famous funeral oration, around which director Janine Hosking (My Khmer Heart) weaves a long overdue commemoration for the under-appreciated musician. Conductor and music educator Richard Gill AO goes on a journey to rediscover and restore Tozer’s historical legacy, while interviews with family and friends offer revealing, previously un-earthed insights, into his life and loves.
"[Tozer] deserved to be remembered alongside the Australian triumvirate of Nellie Melba, Percy Grainger and Joan Sutherland." – Paul Keating
The World Premiere screening on 12 August will include a Welcome to Country, special guests, a Q&A with director Janine Hosking, and a live piano performance. Special thanks to Yamaha Music Australia for supply of the piano for this performance.
The session on Wednesday 15 August will screen with open captions to assist patrons who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
This film will also screen as part of the MIFF Travelling Showcase.