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Michael Easton

Born: 1954

Died: 2004

Nationality: Australian

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Photo © Simon Strong

Michael Easton was born in Hertfordshire, U.K. to mixed parentage that includes English, French and Irish. Following an overly enthusiastic interest in Rugby whilst at school he managed to injure himself with such severity that he was banned from all forms of sporting activity. Consequently he took to playing the piano and, on the advice of Elizabeth Poston, composing. Within one year he entered the Royal Academy of Music in London where he majored in composition with Sir Lennox Berkeley and conducting with Sir Norman del Mar. He later went on to write film music and arrangements but in order to survive on a permanent basis worked in music publishing where he met many of the world's leading 20th century composers. He moved to Australia in 1982 but spent much time in the U.K. and France [where he had a home] as well as visiting America for film and concert work. He is as well known as a composer of 'serious' works as he is of film music. He has written nine operas, three symphonies and numerous concerti including the popular Concerto on Australian themes that was released on the NAXOS label following its successful European debut. This album has become a world best seller and broadcast extensively in the U.K., Europe and the States. His stage show, Dorothy Parker Says, has become an international best seller and he has written many occasional works including Australian Voices, to celebrate the bi-centenary of Australia, Unsung heroes, a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. His most important work is A Voice Not Stilled, a concerto for piano and orchestra on a fragment of music recovered from a victim of the holocaust which received its premier in July 2000 under the auspices of the Progressive Jewish Cultural Fund. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2001. He was co-composer on the Whoopi Goldberg produced film, The Mao Game, and attended the 2001 Cannes International Film Festival where his film, The Moment of Accepting Life was screened. In October 2001 he joined composers Simon Bainbridge, John Corigliano and Karen Tanaka as guest lecturer for a course at the Australian National Academy of Music. As an arranger he has worked for Marina Prior, Anthony Warlow, Marion Montgomery and many 'alternative' artists. His film and t.v. music has been heard around the world. He was an APRA and ARIA nominee and was the only composer to speak at Australia's prestigious SPAA conference. He was in frequent demand as a music consultant to films especially in the placement of classical music. He was director of the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, executive producer for NAXOS' Classical Palette series of CD recordings, which he devised with pianist Len Vorster. He was music consultant to G. Schirmer, and was an active pre-concert speaker. He was opera reviewer and a contributor to The Herald Sun and was a former critic for The Age. He lived mostly in Melbourne or Sydney and, in his spare time, wrote short stories, cooked, entertained friends and walked on the beach. His portrait has been painted by the distinguished Australian artist John Waterhouse for the Archibald Prize. Michael Easton died suddenly in the UK on the 6th February 2004 and will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues. March 2004
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