Michael Kieran Harvey

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Michael Kieran Harvey (born 7 July 1961[1]) is an Australian pianist whose career has been notable for its diversity and wide repertoire. He is renowned for commissioning and performing new music, and he has written works himself. He has especially promoted the works of Australian composers, such as Carl Vine, all of whose piano music he has recorded and much of which was written for him. He is also particularly associated with the piano music of Olivier Messiaen.

According to critic Clive O'Connell in The Age[2]: "Few Australian pianists can touch Michael Kieran Harvey, one of the most exciting exponents of contemporary music in the country".



Michael Kieran Harvey was born in Sydney in 1961. He says that as a child he had great difficulty in coming to terms with being a musician, as he played four different codes of football and was also involved in surf lifesaving.[3] His sister is the pianist Bernadette Harvey-Balkus;[4] his brother Dominic Harvey is head of brass at the Australian National University and noted conductor; and, another sister Rowan Harvey-Martin is a violinist and noted conductor.[5][6] His mother Anne (a student of Alexander Sverjensky) had to abandon plans to become a concert pianist when her father died in her mid-teens; and his father Francis was a journalist and for a time a freelance cellist.[3] He is married to another pianist, Arabella Teniswood-Harvey.

Early music[edit]

Michael studied piano at the Canberra School of Music with Alan Jenkins, at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under Gordon Watson, and at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, under Sándor Falvai. He first came to international prominence by jointly winning[7] with Edith Chen the 1993 International Solo Piano Competition founded by Ivo Pogorelić in Pasadena, California, in which he performed Carl Vine's Piano Sonata No. 1. At the time, this was the world's richest piano competition. He entered the competition not believing he could win, but as an excuse to go to Los Angeles to see Frank Zappa, who was very ill, and to seek permission to play his piano music in public. However, Zappa died on the day of the finals and Harvey did not meet him. His manager from Columbia Artists Management was Ronald Wilford, who was Glenn Gould’s manager, and at that stage Ivo Pogorelić's own manager.


He has premiered many new Australian concertos by composers such as Carl Vine, Nigel Westlake, Paul Grabowsky, Larry Sitsky and Barry Conyngham. He has given Australian premieres of important international works by Andriessen, Wolpe, Martino, Frank Zappa, Jon Lord (of Deep Purple), Keith Emerson (of Emerson, Lake & Palmer), and Milton Babbitt.

Michael Kieran Harvey has worked with conductors such as Edo de Waart, Reinbert de Leeuw, Diego Masson, Markus Stenz and Kristjan Järvi, and has collaborated with the Arditti Quartet, the Netherlands and Luxembourg Philharmonics, Jon Lord, Keith Emerson, Absolute Ensemble and Paul Grabowsky. He regularly appears as soloist with Australian symphony orchestras.

He has performed and recorded most of Olivier Messiaen's works involving piano to high critical acclaim. In 2005 he released a live 3-CD recording of the Australian premiere of the entire Catalogue d'oiseaux featuring Peter Cundall as narrator.

He has recorded Carl Vine's complete piano music (including the 12 Preludes of 2006), much of which was written for him. He commissioned Nigel Westlake’s Piano Sonatas I (1998) and II (2004) and Piano Concerto (2000) and gave the premiere performances.


Harvey has recorded some of his own music, including Kursk (cello and piano), Fear (violin and piano), Homage to Liszt (percussion and piano), Etude for Trumpet (trumpet and piano), City of Snakes (clarinet and piano), and solo piano pieces Psychosonata and Mazurka.


In 2005 the Michael Kieran Harvey Scholarship was established and funded by Susan Mary Remington in honour of his contribution to Australian music, and to encourage future directions in keyboard art music.[1]


  • Joint Grand Prix in the 1993 International Solo Piano Competition (usually referred to as the Ivo Pogorelić Piano Competition, after its founder) in Pasadena, with Edith Chen
  • Debussy Medal (Paris 1985)[8]
  • Finalist, Inaugural International Franz Liszt Piano Competition, Utrecht, Netherlands (1986)[9]
  • Four consecutive Australian Mo Awards for best classical artist
  • Awarded the Australian Government's Centenary Medal for services to Australian music (2002)
  • Three times nominated for the Helpmann Award[10]
  • His recordings are regularly nominated in the ARIAs and APRAs.
  • APRA Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music (2009)


  1. ^ a b Michael Kieran Harvey's website
  2. ^ Age 22 October 2005
  3. ^ a b Ben Holgate, "Classical champion", Weekend Australian, 6–7 September 1999
  4. ^ Sunday, 20 April 2003
  5. ^ The passion of the choir (pic), Ron Cerebona, Canberra Times, 31 March 2014
  6. ^ Classic encounters, Limelight, February 2008
  7. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/1994-01-01/entertainment/ca-7537_1_michael-kieran-harvey
  8. ^ International Piano Competitions /Gustav A. Alink, p159
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Helpmann Awards