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Meale was born in Sydney and studied piano with Winifred Burston at the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, as well as clarinet, harp, music history and theory, before studying at the University of California, Los Angeles and other American institutions on a Ford Foundation grant.
Initially firmly part of the avant garde amongst Australian composers, Meale experienced a stylistic rethink in the 1970s, abandoning an exclusively atonal approach in his orchestral work Viridian (1979) and his Second String Quartet (1980) for a polytonal approach, and in later works embracing a frank tonality, with fin-de-siècle overtones, whilst retaining an individual voice.
He is best known for the 1986 opera Voss, with libretto by David Malouf based on the novel of the same title by Patrick White. Malouf also collaborated with Meale on his second operatic project, Mer de glace (1986–91), a tableaux-like juxtaposition of some ideas of the novel Frankenstein alongside the real dealings of Mary Shelley with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron.
Other works include Very High Kings (1968) and Incredible Floridas (1971).
Awards and nominations
|Year||Recipient / Nominated work||Award||Result|
|2003||Three Miró Pieces – Richard Meale||Best Composition by an Australian Composer||Won|
|Three Miró Pieces (Richard Meale) – Sydney Symphony Orchestra||Orchestral Work of the Year||Won|
- "Australia Council mourns Dr. Richard Meale MBE AM". Australia Council for the Arts. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- Plush, Vincent (24 November 2009). "Restless spirit found the music in Voss". The Australian. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
- It's an Honour
- Australian Music Centre
- National Film and Sound Archive: 'Voss' on the Sounds of Australia registry
- "APRA History". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 17 November 2010.
- "2003 Winners - APRA Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 17 November 2010.
- "Richard Meale – Abandoning Tonality" [radio transcript]. 2008. In Talking to Kinky and Karlheinz – 170 musicians get vocal on The Music Show ed. Anni Heino, 263–268. Sydney: ABC Books. ISBN 978-0-7333-2008-8.
- Canberra School of Music Citation for an Honorary Degree
- Richard Meale biography at the Australian Music Centre
- 'Voss' was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry in 2011.