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The Virtuoso Piano Music of George Frederick Boyle

Limelight (Australia)
Tony Way
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Ambition and luck seem to have been part of George Frederick Boyle’s life from the beginning. Born in Sydney in 1886, he had musical parents who obviously named him in honour of Handel and ensured that his pianistic career flourished from an early age. His first public appearance was at the age of seven and in his mid-teens he gave a concert tour of more than 280 venues in Australia and New Zealand.

As luck would have it, the legendary virtuoso Ignaz Paderewski heard Boyle and counselled him to further his studies with Ferruccio Busoni, which he did for five years. On Busoni’s recommendation, Boyle took a teaching post in America and remained based there for the rest of his life, dying in 1948. Apart from his talents as a pianist, Boyle was also a prodigious composer in the virtuosic Romantic tradition.

Dedicated to Godowsky, the Ballade is a tour de force in rondo form that uses many of the concert pianist’s tools of trade and generates an exciting climax. The Sonata (1925) is technically ambitious and musically adventurous, particularly in terms of structure and harmony, while Boyle’s versatility in evoking different moods is evident throughout his appealing Five Piano Pieces. Timothy Young’s passionate advocacy and magisterial performances of Boyle’s music highlight what a lost treasure this music is. How lucky we are to have such a valuable celebration of this forgotten part of our national musical heritage.