Lived:1932 – 2009
Mostly In:Sydney, Adelaide, Mullumbimby
Best Known For: Voss, Mer de Glace, Very High Kings, Cantilena Pacifica, Viridian
Similar To:Boulez, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Rochberg, Barber
Richard Meale, 1990. Photo © Lorrie Graham
Richard Meale has joined the ranks of neglected Australian composers, his music rarely performed and recordings becoming daily harder to come by. At one time, though, Meale and Peter Sculthorpe stood as the two rival heroes of Australia’s budding musical future. That was the 60s, when Australia, riding on the sheep’s back and happily exploiting its open access to the artistic epicentre of London, was powered by a sense of cultural energy and optimistic growth.
Meale’s fall from prominence started well before his death in 2009. After the success of their first operatic collaboration, Voss, in 1986, Meale and librettist David Malouf followed up with a second, Mer de Glace. The opera’s rich themes and imagery drawn from...