Horace Keats (1895-1945), Australian songwriter, was affectionately described by an Australian academic as, "the Schubert of Australia." He was essentially a songwriter of classical music but also a composer for radio plays, film music, ballet music and incidental works.
His aim as a songwriter was to express in music what the poet had already said in words. So successful was he in this, that he was known as the, "poet's composer". He set a wealth of Australian poetry including the words of Christopher Brennan, Hugh McCrae, Kenneth Mackenzie, Edith Sterling Levis, John Wheeler, John L. Glascock, John Shaw Neilson, and Russell Henderson. His settings of English poetry included works by William Blake, Herbert Brandon, John Cowper Powys, Christina Rossetti, Oscar Wilde, Gerald Manly Hopkins, John Drinkwater, and Lord Byron.
He was an exceptionally talented accompanist and conductor of various ensembles being employed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 1923 until his untimely death.
Well over 100 of his works have been published and include songs with piano and string quartet accompaniment. His works have been recorded by HMV and Columbia from as early as the 1940's and the ABC has recorded his settings of Christopher Brennan's poetry on three separate occasions. The latest CD of Horace Keats songs is now available.
(Painting by Dora Toovey for the Archibald Exhibition in 1945. In the foreground is Barbara Russell, the composer's wife, the composer Horace Keats is at the piano and overlooking them is the Australian poet, Christopher Brennan. Swept across the bottom right-hand corner are the notes from the Brennan Song, I am Shut Out of Mine Own Heart, the last song performed by the composer and his wife.) http://youtu.be/LcuGKG4WdgE
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