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26 October 2021

Geoffrey Allen 1927-2021

Geoffrey Allen Image: Geoffrey Allen  

Composer and publisher Geoffrey Allen has died on 24 October 2021 after a short illness, at the age of 94.

Born in the UK in 1927, Allen was largely self-taught as a composer. He contemplated a career in music, but, due to his family's opposition, he studied geography at Oxford and composed in his spare time. After his graduation in 1951, Allen moved to Sydney, where he taught geography for two years at Trinity Grammar School. At the end of this period, he took up positions in Australian libraries, including the State Library of NSW, the CSIRO, the library of the University of Western Australia, and the WA Institute of Technology/Curtin University. Allen retired in 1992, and devoted his time to his music publishing activities and composing.

In the 1950s in Sydney, Allen founded the Recording Society of Australia, and released a number of LP recordings of Australian works on the Brolga label, including some of his own music. His most lasting legacy, however, was establishing Keys Press in 1990 for the purpose of publishing contemporary Australian classical music. Between 1990 and 2014 he published over 500 separate titles by around 50 composers, including Roy Agnew, Miriam Hyde, Ann Ghandar, and Larry Sitsky.

After a lull in composing during mid-life, Allen experienced a resurgence of creative drive in the late 1980s and continued to compose for several decades. His body of work includes sixteen piano sonatas, many shorter piano pieces and numerous works for woodwinds, together with songs and a few works for strings. His music was influenced by mid-19th century British and French composers and his works generally melody-driven, and characterised by chromatic and frequently shifting tonalities.

In the 2010s, he collaborated with David Wickham and other Western Australian musicians to produce a number of CD recordings of music that he had previously published. These CDs were released in the UK on the Stone Records label.

Geoffrey was a long-term member and supporter of the Australian Music Centre.

The AMC's Board and staff would like to extend our warmest condolences to Patricia Allen, Geoffrey's family, relatives and friends.

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