Tommy Tycho

November 25, 2011

Tommy Tycho was born in Budapest in 1928. His musical life started as a child prodigy pianist. He played George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra at age 10. He commenced studying at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in
Budapest, where his teachers included Leo Weiner and Zoltán Kodály. He and his parents had adopted Lutheranism in an attempt to disguise their Jewishness, but to no avail – he was interned in a German forced labour camp in 1943 at age 15, and was lucky to survive. He resumed his studies after the war, but fled his country ahead of the Communist takeover while still only in his third year of study. From 1948 to 1951 he lived in Iran, where he was the personal pianist for the Shah of Iran. There he met a woman named Eve, another Hungarian, who became his wife. They emigrated to Australia in 1951.

He was Musical Director at the Seven Network for 15 years, 1956–1971, was involved in nine Royal Command Performances, and has conducted all the ABC symphony orchestras. His work was an important element of many official openings (Sydney Opera House, Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney Football Stadium, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane 1982 Commonwealth Games, World Expo 88, Darling Harbour, major sporting grand finals, etc.). In 2008 he performed at the piano for Crown Princess Mary of Denmark at the opening of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. (In 1980, after a heart attack, he had been treated personally by Dr Victor Chang.)

His compositions include 3 overtures, 3 concertos, television music, film scores (including Young Einstein and Reckless Kelly), arrangements of over 1,500 pieces for film and
television, music for Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and a new Australian musical, Get Happy (2003). In 2003 Tommy Tycho was commissioned by Symphony Australia to compose and arrange an overture for the 75th birthday celebrations of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. That same year he conducted the Queensland Orchestra for concerts with Anthony Warlow, and was the arranger and conductor for Warlow’s album, Let’s Face the Music; and he conducted the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in a Lounge concert. Tommy wrote a series of special feature arrangements for Australian clarinetist, Andy Firth when he featured as guest artist with the Atlanta symphony orchestra in 2006. Tommy also orchestrated and conducted three albums for Bernard Walz between 1994 and 2006, as well as preparing numerous orchestrations for Bernard’s appearances with both symphony orchestras and small ensembles.