Paul Copeland

Paul Copeland Paul C. J. Copeland was born in 1947 in Melbourne, Australia. His mother had a very good untrained voice. His father was an entertainer and travelled the world as 'Argus the Boy Prophet' (doing a mind reading act) performing throughout Australia, England (before Royalty and members of Scotland Yard), Hong Kong and India. Paul's father was also a very good pianist who was self taught. It was said of Paul's grandfather that he could pick up any instrument and play it.

Paul's earliest recollection of classical music was when he was about 8 years old and his father played the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata". Paul was so touched by the beautiful music that tears came to his eyes.

At the age of 16 Paul started having piano lessons wanting to pursue a career in music. He left school at year 10 and went to a conservatorium (which will remain nameless) to study for the 'Performers Diploma'. This was a most distressing time for him. He wanted to study composition, but composition was not offered as a subject. Paul studied on his own and wrote a couple of string trios and a piano piece as well as some songs very much in the style of Schubert. The time at the conservatorium almost destroyed Paul's creativity completely, but fortunately he was able to study composition privately with his only composition teacher, Felix Werder, who is one of Australia's most important and prolific post-avant garde composers. Paul's father died in 1968 when Paul was at the conservatorium and Paul's musical studies immediately ceased at the conservatorium so that Paul could take over the family business, an antique/second hand shop.

In 1975 Paul presented a concert of his music 'Copeland presents Copeland'. Perhaps quoting from the program notes sums up Paul's approach to music quite well.

"As the avant garde scene is ins some ways a parallel music culture, it is fairly obvious that the fashionable concert promotion and it's 19th century memories are not suited to Paul Copeland's creativity. This accounts perhaps for the composers apparent lack of exposure. However, the function of this concert is in some ways a means of projecting some of his ideas across the footlight. In this way it may be considered a retrospect exhibition."

It was also in 1975 that Paul received a grant from the Australian Council of the Arts, to compose for 6 months. During this period Paul's compositional style was avant-garde, following Stockhausen and Berio. His string quartet (a purely graphic score) was performed by professional musician's who right up to the performance day didn't want to play the work because they felt it was too difficult. However, they did perform it for broadcast over the national radio, although the performance was 'from Paul's point of view', very poor.

Paul has also been involved with 'music theatre' and jointly produced with Paula Dawson 'Music and Lasers in Mazes' a work involving dancers triggering laser beams, which in turn triggered music. Another music theatre work was 'Multitudinalpolychromatic Transformations'. This was a mime piece choreographed by Tania Richter and performed in 1980 by members of the Australian Ballet School.

Paul has had his music broadcast throughout Australia over National Radio ("String quartet 1", and "Subterranean Rivers for 2 synthesisers, oboe horn, trumpet and percussion"). His music has been performed at the National Gallery, Victoria. Overseas, his music has been taken on tour of Germany and Italy.

In the early 80's Paul became interested in computers and wrote 4 books, "Using your Vic 20 as a Music Synthesizer", "The Penguin Book of Vic 20 Games", "The Penguin Book of Commodore 64 Games" all published as well as a book on using graphics with the Commodore 64, which although completed was not published.

In 1985 Paul entered what was called the world's first computer art competition. He created a computer print that was printed using a large plotter. The plot was created using the program Auto Lisp (part of Auto cad). The print was larger than A0. The print took over 30 hours to produce. It received a commendation from the judge, Professor M. Gartel of New York, New York. Paul remembers taking the print to a leading print dealer and being told that the computer print was not a print at all. Things have certainly changed since then.

More recently Paul has worked with Peter Mangold, one of Australia's most prolific Christian songwriters, in typesetting and arranging over 100 songs taken from the three year cycle of readings from the Ecumenical Lectionary.

Paul's interest in rags is very recent (June 2000). He has now written 5 and intends completing at least 20 before the end of the year (2000). The rags so far are unashamedly classical in style, (named after Australian tourist attractions - "Luna Park Rag", "St. Kilda Beach Rag", "Puffing Billy Rag") following very much the structure of the Scott Joplin rags. The rags are dedicated to Paul's severely disabled foster child, Grant. Paul is hoping to have the 20 rags recorded professionally by a ragtime specialist so that they can be released as a CD throught The sheet music of the rags will also be made available over the Internet.

Paul is married to Alison. They have a daughter Alicia and a foster child Grant. Paul is keen on hearing from professional ragtime performers who may be interested in recording his rags for the CD. He can be contacted at

Paul's own website is located at (At this site there are many of his compositions available as PDF files as well as Real Audio streaming taken from some of his concerts and much more).

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Copyright © 1996 Oleg Mezjuev.
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