Saturday, October 13, 2012

Noel Mewton-Wood

This intense young man is Noel Mewton-Wood (1922-1953), an Australian pianist and composer whose talent was somehow overlooked by the public and by critics during his short life, despite the fact that he was lauded by his contemporary musicians. If you want to make your own judgement on that then there are a number of his performances currently available to listen to on Youtube. There isn't a great deal of information out there about his life, (despite the fact that a novel has been written supposedly inspired by it) but we do know it was tragically short and ended by his own hand. Most modern readers would know how to read between the lines of the newspaper report of the inquest below, references to Noel's "very dear friend" are a very thin code for Noel's lover, whose death, it seems Noel did not recover from.

Benjamin Britten wrote a piece for Noel's memorial concert.

I'm grateful to the ever-brilliant Climbing Down Bokor for pointing me in this direction which has also resulted in discovering the huge collection of photo portraits by Howard Coster at the National Portrait Gallery from whence these to photographs come.


eArnie Painter said...

This is tragic. I listened to some of the pieces on YouTube. He was brilliant. Does an artistic genious naturally have a predisposition to emotional instability, or is that just a common misconception? This happened in 1953, but it could easily be something that we read in today's paper. The only difference MIGHT be the oblique way of speaking about the Dear Friend, but even that might easily be repeated verbatim, depending on how the family felt.

The world lost two people instead of just one. We think that we've made so many improvements in our world, but I wonder if our grief counseling and our medications can actually make a difference when a free person's despondent soul is wracked with guilt.

Thank you for sharing these things with us, Callum.

Patrick said...

This is so poignant, and says so much: "He was dressed in khaki shorts, a red plaid open-necked shirt and white plimsolls." Heartbreaking. Thanks Callum. Your site continues to amaze and entice.

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