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James Murdoch 1930 – 2010

Bali Loses a Distinguished Man of the Arts with Death of Ubud Stalwart - the Very Remarkable James Murdoch.


Bali suffered a sad loss on Sunday, October 24, 2010, with the death of Australian James Murdoch who made his home on the banks of the Ayung River gorge in Ubud.

Born in Sydney in 1930, Murdoch attended Canterbury Boys High School and the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music as a student of piano, composition and conducting. In 1958 he traveled abroad to work in Madrid as Music Director and Company Pianist for the renowned Luisolla and the Spanish Dance Theatre. In 1962 he returned home to work as the Assistant Musical Director and Company Pianist of the Australian Ballet Company. Later, he launched a musical publication the Universal Record Club for which he wrote over 200 record cover notes.

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Additional photography courtesy of Made Wijaya

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In 1968, Murdoch left for London where he established the James Murdoch Management agency which provided artistic management for composers Peter Maxwell Davies, Hans Werner Henze and Harrison Birtwistle, the pianists Roger Woodward and Paul Crossley, and such groups as the Fires of London, the Pierrot Players, and the Budapest Chamber Orchestra.

1972 saw his return to Australia where he worked as Music Consultant to the Musical Board of the Australia Council. It was at this time that Murdoch's book examining the work of 33 composers "Australia's Contemporary Composers" was published.

An appointment as the National Director of the Australian Music Centre followed in 1975 and in 1980 he was elected as World President of the Music Information Centre's Professional Branch.,After publishing "A Handbook of Australian Music" in 1983, Murdoch established a music consultancy that did musical research, and consulted the Sydney Opera House Trust and the Australia Council. This led to his 1988 appointment as the Artistic Direct of New Directions - a festival sponsored by the Australian Bicentennial Authority and Musica Viva.

In 2002 Murdoch wrote the critically-acclaimed biography of the Australian woman composer, critic, and feminist - Peggy Glanville-Hicks.

James Murdoch's papers, recording, correspondence and other documents form a special collection at the Australian National Library documenting his rich and varied life as an arts administrator, artistic director, manager, promoter of Australian music and musicians, consultant, and writer and broadcaster.

Murdoch has lived in Bali since 1990.

A cremation ceremony was scheduled for the Mumbal Crematorium in Bali on Sunday, October 31, 2010, at 11 am.

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