Paul Grabowsky is a pianist and composer who was born in 1958 in Lae, Papua New Guinea; his father Alistair had lived in Papua New Guinea with his wife Charlotte since the 1930s working on oil rigs, building roads, flying planes and playing the drums. His older brother Michael took great interest in the young Paul and helped to encourage his passion for music. He later worked with Paul coordinating and producing many of his television and film scores in the 90's.
Grabowsky grew up in suburban Glen Waverley, Melbourne, and began piano lessons when he was five years old. He studied the classical repertoire with Mack Jost, senior lecturer in piano at the Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne from the age of seven until his university years. He attended Wesley College and it was that school's jazz band which introduced him to the genre.
Immersing himself in jazz, Grabowsky left the conservatorium In 1978 to pursue musical studies at the Juilliard School in New York and then embarked on extensive travel in Europe. 1980 he worked in the Melbourne cabaret/comedy scene where he began his relationship with Steve Vizard and Robyn Archer. Assisted by a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts, he flew in 1980 to London where he travelled via Spain to Germany; he lived there in Munich until 1985. He had been back in Australia for Christmas 1982 when, on the invitation of Red Symons, he co-composed his first film score. In Europe he played with many musicians including Chet Baker, Art Farmer and Johnny Griffin as well as many influential European artists.
After his return to Australia in 1986, he played in various jazz ensembles, including The Wizards of Oz and the Groovematics. He also founded The Paul Grabowsky Trio with Gary Costello (bass) and Allan Browne (drums), which won ARIA Music Awards for its first CD (Six By Three) and in 1996 for its second CD, When Words Fail. During this time, he also wrote the score to the film The Last Days of Chez Nous and for television shows Phoenix, Janus and Fast Forward.
In 1990 he was commissioned to write several pieces for the Munich-based jazz/contemporary-music group Die Konferenz. One group of these was based on songs of Édith Piaf ("Et les Affaires Piaf"), while a second group was based on songs from German UFA films from the 1920s to 1940s ("Es wird einmal ein Wunder"). With the support from its artistic director Richard Wherrett, this led to the formation of the project Ringing the Bell Backwards at the Melbourne International Arts Festival and eventually to the Australian Art Orchestra in 1994. That year, Grabowsky wrote a piano concerto for Michael Kieran Harvey.
He is married to Margot Salomon and in 1991 their first child was born; Isabella Grabowsky. Their son Guy Grabowksy was born in 1995..
In 1995, the Australian Art Orchestra toured Europe, and later India in 1996. Grabowsky directed the Victorian Arts Centre's Summer Music programme. Late that year he was commissioned to front the 14-part ABC TV series Access All Areas. As Commissioning Editor for ABC Television Arts and Entertainment (1996–1998), he commissioned the documentary series Long Way to the Top. During the late 1990s, Grabowsky concentrated on writing music for film and television: Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (1999) and Innocence (2000) by Paul Cox, Siam Sunset by John Polson, the NBC mini-series Noah's Ark, the UK production Shiner. Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA) commissioned his first opera, The Mercenary with a (libretto by Janis Balodis).
In 2000, the project The Theft of Sita came to fruition; it combined jazz elements, Balinese gamelan music and puppetry. The piece premiered in Adelaide, and has since toured worldwide. In that year, Grabowsky was also involved in the ceremonies of the Sydney Olympics and the Paralympics. Since then, he has written the opera Love in the Age of Therapy (libretto by Joanna Murray-Smith) commissioned by Melbourne Festival and Sydney Festival, and the symphony Streets of Hurqalya (26 June 2002), commissioned by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Among his recent film scores are Fred Schepisi's Last Orders and It Runs in the Family, Paul Cox's The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky, and Disney's The Jungle Book 2. From 2003 to 2007, Grabowsky was commissioner at the Australian Film Commission. In 2004 he became involved in Charles Darwin University’s Remote Indigenous Music Program.
In 2005, Grabowsky was appointed Artistic Director for the Queensland Music Festival 2007. His song cycle Before Time Could Change Us, lyrics by Dorothy Porter and featuring Katie Noonan, was commissioned by the Queensland Music Festival and released in 2005 by the Warner Music Group. He recorded an album of original jazz compositions, Tales of Time and Space, with Branford Marsalis (soprano sax), Joe Lovano (tenor sax), Scott Tinkler (trumpet), Ed Schuller (bass) and Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums). In 2007 he was appointed inaugural patron of the National Film and Sound Archive's project Sounds of Australia. On 4 January 2008, the Adelaide Festival of Arts appointed Grabowsky as its artistic director for the 2010 festival, its 50th anniversary year. He was then asked to stay on and direct the 2012 Adelaide Festival.
In June 2012, Grabowsky was appointed Vice-Chancellor's Professorial Fellow in the School of Music. In July 2012, he was appointed Executive Director, Performing Arts, Academy Of Performing Arts, Monash University.
- 1988 ARIA Award for the album Soundtrack
- 1988 & 1989 Rolling Stone Magazine (Australia) Jazz Artist of the Year
- 1989 APRA Award (Most Performed Australasian Jazz Work) for Disappearing Shoreline
- 1989 ARIA nomination for the film Georgia
- 1989 AFI nomination (Best Original Music Score) for Georgia
- 1990 ARIA Award for the album Six By Three
- 1991 ARIA nomination for the film A Woman's Tale
- 1991 AFI nomination (Best Music Score) for A Woman's Tale
- 1992 ARIA nomination for the film The Last Days of Chez Nous
- 1992 AFI nomination (Best Music Score) for The Last Days of Chez Nous
- 1993 ARIA nomination for Tee Vee
- 1993 APRA Award for Phoenix
- 1994 ARIA nomination for the film Exile
- 1994 AFI nomination (Best Original Music Score) for Exile
- 1995 ARIA nomination for the film Mushrooms
- 1995 AFI Award (Open Craft Award) for The Good Looker
- 1996 ARIA Award (Best Australian Jazz Release) for When Words Fail
- 1998 ARIA nomination for Angel
- 1999 Australian Guild of Screen Composers nomination for the film Siam Sunset
- 2000 ARIA nomination for the film Siam Sunset
- 2000 The Age Award (Best Production) for The Theft of Sita
- 2001 ARIA nomination for PG3
- 2001 Sidney Myer Performing Artist of the Year Award
- 2001 Helpmann Award (Best Original Score) for The Theft of Sita
- 2004 ARIA nomination for Tales of Time and Space
- 2003 World Soundtrack Academy nomination for The Jungle Book 2
- 2004 AFI (Open Craft Award) nomination for Jessica
- 2005 ARIA Award for Before Time Could Change Us
- 2006 AFI nomination for Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst
- 2006 Bell Award Australian Jazz Artist of The Year
- 2007 Melbourne Prize for Music
- Grabowsky, Paul. "Biography". Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- "Biography, list of works and awards". Air-Edel. Retrieved 29 February 2008.
- "Introducing…Paul Grabowsky" (PDF). State Library of Queensland. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 1 March 2003.
- M. Wangler: Gleichberechtigte Rollenverteilung: Paul Grabowsky, Jazz Podium, xxxiv/7 (1985), 4 (German)
- Roger T. Dean: "Grabowsky, Paul", Grove Music Online. ed. L. Macy (Accessed 16 March 2008)
- "Indigenous music program attracts Grabowsky". Charles Darwin University. 12 March 2004. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- "QMF Artistic Director Paul Grabowsky". Queensland Music Festival. Retrieved 1 March 2008.[dead link]
- "Sounds of Australia". National Film and Sound Archive. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- "Paul Grabowsky announced as new Artistic Director!". Adelaide Festival Corporation. 4 January 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- Paul Grabowsky at RecordProduction.com
- Paul Grabowsky Trio at Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
- "AFI Awards Winners—Non-Feature Categories 1958–2005" (PDF). AFI. p. 14. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- "Paul Grabowsky wins the most valuable music prize in Australia". Melbourne Prize Trust. 14 November 2007. Retrieved 1 March 2008.[dead link]
- Home page
- The Australian Art Orchestra
- Paul Grabowsky at the Internet Movie Database
- "Introducing... Paul Grabowsky" at the State Library of Queensland