Australian Geoffrey Tozer was one of those rare pianists who attract attention not only for their immense talent but for the force of their unique personalities and the often unintended controversies they create. Tozer was typically associated with repertory by neglected composers like Nikolay Medtner, Alan Rawsthorne, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Roberto Gerhard, Percy Grainger, and a spate of others, some totally obscure. But he also performed a sizable array of standards by Mozart, Liszt, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Bartók, J.S. Bach, and many more. Tozer made numerous recordings, mostly for the British label Chandos.
Geoffrey Tozer was born in Mussoorie, India, on November 5, 1954. His mother was a talented pianist who raised her son in India until he reached age four, when she relocated with him to Australia. She was his first teacher, and young Geoffrey quickly developed into a prodigy, making his debut at eight in a televised concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in a performance of J.S. Bach's F minor Concerto No. 5.
In addition to his mother, Tozer's teachers included Eileen Ralf and Keith Humble (in Australia), Maria Curcio (England), and Theodore Lettvin (U.S.). Tozer gave his London debut at 15 in an acclaimed performance at the Proms of the Mozart Concerto No. 15, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra led by Colin Davis. In 1982 the locally popular Tozer was invited to perform at the Melbourne Concert Hall's inaugural concert. Throughout the 1980s he steadily built his international reputation, and in 1990 signed a contract with Chandos Records. He immediately embarked upon recording the three piano concertos of Medtner, as well as other works (eventually all) by that Russian master.
Tozer unintentionally slighted Australians when, in 1997, he declared he was moving from Melbourne to Europe to get away from the provincialism of Australia. He eventually returned and has since remained a celebrated figure in his homeland. In a 2001 concert broadcast live on television from China, Tozer became the first westerner to perform the so-called Yellow River Concerto on Chinese soil. By the end of 2004 he had made his fifth tour of China. Tozer remained busy in the new century with a heavy concert schedule, touring Australia, Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere and making many recordings. Among his recordings is the 2005 release of Vol. 8 of the complete piano works of Medtner. Around that same time, Tozer was diagnosed with liver disease, which claimed his life in August, 2009.