Australian pianist Michael Kieran Harvey on tackling the music of neglected genius Raymond Hanson and fighting cultural cringe.
In my view, Raymond Hanson has the distinction of being Australia’s greatest neglected composer. Completely disinterested in fame and self-promotion, Hanson wrote over 100 opuses, but those of you reading this would probably be hard-pressed to name any. Because, statistically, you are most likely well-heeled and Eurocentric, and probably only really interested in a band of music written by dead white men from about 1700 to 1900.
I will be doing my best to alleviate this neglectful situation on July 19 in a recital at Eveleigh Carriageworks in Sydney where I will perform Hanson’s piano sonata opus 12, along with the premiere of Elliott Gyger’s Inferno and my own Psychosonata. Come along if you dare – I might have the heating on, you never know, just to enhance the sulphurous atmosphere.
The Hanson sonata is a masterpiece of mid-20th century Australian composition, but is rarely heard live because it’s extremely difficult to play. It’s also not part of the repertoire of most Australian pianists as many of them, in my view, seem to inexplicably desregard the quality of Australian composition in favour of foreign fare. This also seems...