Max Cooke

MAX COOKE (1924 - 2021) was a leading figure in music performance and education, and taught some very talented students some of whom have been Professors of Music in Germany, Scotland and in Australia. His own performances brought him together with famous musicians and conductors.

Max Cooke studied at the University of Melbourne, specialising in Music at the University Conservatorium and languages in the Arts Faculty. He then proceeded to Europe where he studied piano at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, under the great concert pianist Alfred Cortot, and he studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

In 1951 he was invited by Professor Heinze to return to the Conservatorium as a member of staff. Max Cooke remained on the staff of the University of Melbourne until just a few years ago. He started as Chief Study Teacher, was then Senior Lecturer and later Associate Professor (Reader), and he was for six years until 1981 Dean of the Faculty and Chairman of the Department of Music. He was also a Professor at Monash University, and he taught also at the Victorian College of the Arts.

His career was involved with performance and teaching, and he produced a number of publications on music and on piano teaching, including one on Japanese Music Teaching Methods in Australia, and two on his work with musically gifted children. His publications titled TONE, TOUCH AND TECHNIQUE, together with CDs and videos that accompany them, are used extensively by piano teachers and students. They combine wide pianistic knowledge and experience with very considerable investigation and research into the physics and physiology of piano performance. He lectured on these publications in Europe and England as well as in Australia.

Max Cooke held positions including president of the Victorian Music Teachers Association, National President of the Australian Society for Music Education, and Chairman of the Commission on the Education of the Professional Musician within the International Society for Music Education (ISME).

In the field of performance, Max Cooke played many times as soloist with orchestras, giving over sixty concerto presentations, and was regularly involved with chamber music and accompanying, playing both piano and harpsichord. He worked with many local and overseas musicians, and spent a considerable time in Europe, particularly in Germany. He was an adjudicator on the panel of the Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano (Italy).

With the TEAM OF PIANISTS which he founded, he gave and organised many recitals, produced seven CDs and two videos, and conducted broadcasts on radio 3 MBS FM. One of the Team¹s successful annual events is a series of recitals titled TWILIGHT CHAMBER MUSIC AT RIPPON LEA, involving the Team of Pianists with leading musicians from Australia and overseas.

In 1988 Max Cooke was invited to become a Fellow of the Australian College of Education. In the Queen’s birthday honours lists of 1998, he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to music and to education, particularly to piano pedagogy and the training of students. In 2001, Max Cooke received the 'Bundesverdienstkreuz' from the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Johannes Rau. This makes him an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic. In recent years he taught a number of very talented students from around the world, and took them on concert and study tours to Europe, China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Since Max Cooke's death, the Friends of the Team of Pianists Committee has set up a fundraising project using individually mounted and framed piano hammers from his last Bösendorfer piano, to help perpetuate Max's generosity towards young pianists.

Upcoming Events

Rigg Bequest Classic Music 2023 - 2024: Concert 3

Voices of Grandeur - Bluestone Classics at St Kilda Presbyterian Church

An unforgettable afternoon featuring Melbourne Cappella Chamber Choir, under the direction of Nicholas Cowall, accompanied by pianist Rohan Murray. A blend of vocal prowess and piano artistry, within a repertoire spanning the soulful depths of Orthodox chant to the dramatic peaks of Italian opera and Russian and Hungarian romanticism.

Works include Pavel Chesnokov’s ethereal "Let my prayer Arise" Op. 24 No. 8, Franz Liszt's "Missa quattuor vocum ad aequales" S. 8, a selection of arias and choruses by Giacomo Puccini and Tchaikovsky's famous "1812 Overture", ingeniously arranged for piano by the composer himself. Afternoon tea refreshments will be available also, served by Friends of the Team of Pianists.

Download the concert flyer, or read more here.... Don't miss hearing these voices of grandeur in the wonderful acoustics of St Kilda Presbyterian Church!

Date and Time

Sunday March 17, 2024 at 3.00pm

Presbyterian Church St Kilda
2 Alma Road (corner of Alma Road & Barkly Street)
St Kilda, VIC, 3182

Book now!

Rigg Bequest Classic Music 2023 - 2024: Concert 4

The Hollywood Connection at Como House & Garden

Join Vivien Hamilton - mezzo-soprano, Josephine Vains - cello and Robert Chamberlain - piano for a Hollywood-inspired recital in the elegant yet intimate Ballroom at Como House and Garden. Enjoy fabulous works by André Previn, Leonard Bernstein, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Erich Korngold, George Gershwin and Australian composer Luke Severn, as you glimpse the lifestyle of the Armytage family - former occupants of this stunning National Trust mansion in South Yarra.

Seating is very limited, so choose from two performances, one at 2pm, the second at 4.30pm, with interval refreshments served on the Eastern Verandah by the Friends of the Team of Pianists! Read more here...

Date and Time

Sunday April 21, 2024 at 2.00pm or at 4.30pm

The Ballroom (inside the main house)
Como House and Garden
Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave
South Yarra, VIC, 3141

Book now!

Rigg Bequest Classic Music 2023 - 2024: Concert 5

Ludwig Live at Labassa!

A unique double recital in the National Trust’s lavish 19th century mansion Labassa. Experience the opulent architectural features and impressive interiors of Labassa as you enjoy the music of Beethoven (and others!) in two contrasting 40 - 45 minute recitals in one afternoon!

Soprano Judith Dodsworth, horn player Roman Ponomariov, and pianist Robert Chamberlain perform Beethoven’s Horn Sonata in F Op. 17, Beethoven’s song-cycle An die ferne Geliebte ("To the distant beloved") Op. 98, which is rarely heard with female voice, as well as trios by Schubert and Flanders & Swann (arr.) in the Music Room. While violinist Yi Wang and pianist Darryl Coote perform Beethoven’s mighty Sonata in A major, Op 47 (Kreuzer) in the Reception Room.

Each recital will be performed twice; after interval the audience will swap rooms to hear their second recital. Both rooms are at opposite corners of the ground floor, separated by doors and the entrance hall, so each audience will not be disturbed by sound from the other recital!

With strictly limited seating, our previous Rigg Bequest double-recital at Labassa sold out early, so book soon for Ludwig Live at Labassa! Read more here...

Date and Time

Sunday May 26, 2024 at 3.00pm

Labassa
2 Manor Grove
Caulfield North, VIC, 3161
(Please note: Parking in Manor Grove is prohibited)

Book now!

Downloads

Read about the partners in the Team of Pianists

Robert Chamberlain
Darryl Coote - piano
Darryl Coote - piano
Rohan Murray - piano
Rohan Murray - piano

ROBERT CHAMBERLAIN is a versatile and accomplished pianist, with interests ranging from period performance to contemporary music and with specialisations including chamber and ensemble music. He studied for Bachelors and Masters degrees in Australia under Max Cooke, in Vienna as a winner of the Apex/Robert Stolz Scholarship, and also at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada.

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Australian-Irish pianist DARRYL COOTE is a partner of the Team of Pianists, Artists-in-Residence at Glenfern for the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). His professional life encompasses activity as solo pianist, chamber musician, concerto soloist, teacher, adjudicator and administrator.

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ROHAN MURRAY completed the Master of Music Performance degree at the Victorian College of the Arts with First Class Honours. He is a member of the Golden Key Honour Society, and was a grand finalist and prize-winner at the 2000 Australian Piano Award.

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