‘Geoffrey Tozer’s death is a national tragedy.’ – The Hon. Paul Keating
‘Geoffrey was a great ambassador for his nation’s culture. Much of the time it must have felt to him as if his nation didn’t care.’ – Norman Lebrecht, French Music Critic
As an eight-year-old child prodigy the world was Geoffrey Tozer’s oyster. From the time that he was the youngest ever semifinalist at the famous Leeds Piano Competition, he dazzled audiences around the world. As an adult Tozer continued to perform in Australia and internationally, but for a career that promised and delivered so much, Tozer’s end was shocking. At his memorial service in 2009, Tozer’s friend and former prime minister, Paul Keating delivered a searing eulogy, painting a haunting picture of a lonely genius shunned by the Australian musical establishment during the final years of his life. Intrigued by Keating’s controversial eulogy and spurred to find out what went wrong with Tozer’s career, esteemed conductor and music educator Richard Gill goes on a journey to discover the man behind Keating’s eulogy. Gill’s first steps begin at the estate of Geoffrey Tozer, where in a humble backyard shed is an archive that contains thousands of drawings, photographs, letters and diaries documenting every aspect of Tozer’s tumultuous life. Gill also meets with members of Tozer’s family, inner circle and musical colleagues who have never before spoken publicly about the pianist. The epic tale and musical legacy of one of the greatest pianists Australia never really knew is finally revealed.
The Eulogy is suitable for secondary students in Years 10–12 studying English, Media and Music. The documentary may also be of interest to students in other Performing and Visual Arts subjects.
In English, The Eulogy expands and enriches students’ understanding of human experiences. Activities have been designed to allow students to explore how meaning is created in a text. Students can identify, discuss and analyse the decisions the director has made. They can explore how the director uses structures, conventions and language to represent characters, settings and events; explore themes; and build the world of the text for the audience. Students can also investigate how the meaning of a text is affected by the contexts in which it was created and is read.
In Music, The Eulogy develops students’ knowledge of the musicianship of Geoffrey Tozer and understanding of his artistic process. Activities have been designed to allow students to express their personal values about music and to discuss, interpret and evaluate the music of Tozer and his career as a pianist. In addition, students are invited to explore the contribution that Tozer made to the performing arts in Australia and abroad. The film provides the opportunity for students to consider the way that Australians view and value the arts and the financial support provided to artists such as Tozer.
In Media, students can use The Eulogy to describe, analyse and interpret a professional media product in terms of how it communicates ideas to a specific audience. Activities have been designed to allow students to describe and discuss ways that a documentary depicts events, people, places and ideas.
The curriculum in this study guide is organised into three sections:
• Before viewing The Eulogy – This section provides opportunities for students to engage in a discussion of ideas and issues relevant to the documentary.
• Close analysis of The Eulogy – This section of the study guide provides opportunities for students to make a close analysis of the documentary.
• After viewing The Eulogy – This section provides opportunities for students to pursue further investigations of ideas and issues relevant to the documentary.
The activities in each section promote student engagement and active participation via individual reflection, class discussions, and small group and teamwork. Multiple activities are provided to allow teachers to select those which will best suit the demands of the subject and the needs of the students. If you do not own copies of Geoffrey Tozer’s music, you can listen online by accessing Tozer’s artist profile on Spotify. Audio and video clips of Tozer’s performances can be accessed via YouTube. It is recommended that teachers preview The Eulogy.