Charles Osborne (music writer)

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Charles Thomas Osborne (24 November 1927 – 23 September 2017) was an Australian journalist, theatre and opera critic, poet and novelist. [1] He was the assistant editor of The London Magazine from 1958 until 1966, literature director of the Arts Council of Great Britain from 1971 until 1986, and chief theatre critic of Daily Telegraph (London) from 1986 to 1991.

<i>The London Magazine</i> literary periodical; publication of arts, literature and miscellaneous interests

The London Magazine is a publication of arts, literature and miscellaneous interests. Its history ranges across nearly three centuries and several reincarnations, publishing writers including William Wordsworth, William S. Burroughs and John Keats.

The Arts Council of Great Britain was a non-departmental public body dedicated to the promotion of the fine arts in Great Britain. It was divided in 1994 to form the Arts Council of England, the Scottish Arts Council, and the Arts Council of Wales. At the same time the National Lottery was established and these three arts councils, plus the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, became distribution bodies.

<i>The Daily Telegraph</i> British daily broadsheet newspaper

The Daily Telegraph, commonly referred to simply as The Telegraph, is a national British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed across the United Kingdom and internationally. It was founded by Arthur B. Sleigh in 1855 as Daily Telegraph & Courier.

Contents

He is the only author the Agatha Christie Estate has ever allowed to produce adapted works in her name.

Agatha Christie 20th-century English mystery and detective writer

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, was an English writer. She is known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Christie also wrote the world's longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap, and, under the pen name Mary Westmacott, six romances. In 1971 she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her contribution to literature.

Life and career

Osborne was born in Brisbane, Australia. He taught himself to play the piano and aged 18 he took singing lessons. [1]

Brisbane capital city of Queensland, Australia

Brisbane is the capital of and the most populated city in the Australian state of Queensland, and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2.5 million, and the South East Queensland metropolitan region, centred on Brisbane, encompasses a population of more than 3.6 million. The Brisbane central business district stands on the historic European settlement and is situated inside a peninsula of the Brisbane River, about 15 kilometres from its mouth at Moreton Bay. The metropolitan area extends in all directions along the floodplain of the Brisbane River Valley between Moreton Bay and the Great Dividing Range, sprawling across several of Australia's most populous local government areas (LGAs)—most centrally the City of Brisbane, which is by far the most populous LGA in the nation. The demonym of Brisbane is "Brisbanite" or "Brisbanian".

Osborne's father hailed originally from Devon and his mother was from Vienna, a fact to which he attributes his lifelong love of opera. He went to school locally, then studied at the University of Queensland. Osborne then worked in literary and musical journalism and in repertory theatre in Australia and Britain, where he settled permanently in 1953. He played the role of Front Gunner Foxlee in the film The Dam Busters (1955), and acted in many plays across the UK [1] including Black Coffee by Agatha Christie, which he later adapted as a novel.

University of Queensland university in Australia

The University of Queensland (UQ) is a public research university primarily located in Queensland's capital city, Brisbane, Australia. Founded in 1909 by the state parliament, UQ is Australia's fifth oldest university. It is one of those colloquially known as a sandstone university. UQ is considered to be one of Australia's leading universities, and is ranked as the 48th most reputable university in the world. The University of Queensland is a founding member of online higher education consortium edX, Australia's research-intensive Group of Eight, and the global Universitas 21 network.

<i>The Dam Busters</i> (film) 1955 film directed by Michael Anderson

The Dam Busters is a 1955 British epic war film starring Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave. It was directed by Michael Anderson. The film recreates the true story of Operation Chastise when in 1943 the RAF's 617 Squadron attacked the Möhne, Eder, and Sorpe dams in Nazi Germany with Barnes Wallis's bouncing bomb.

Black Coffee is a play by the British crime-fiction author Agatha Christie (1890–1976) which was produced initially in 1930. The first piece that Christie wrote for the stage, it launched a successful second career for her as a playwright.

From 1958, he was assistant editor of The London Magazine, founded by John Lehmann, which publishes poems, short stories and literary reviews. Osborne himself wrote poetry from an early age. He published three collections of poetry, including Swansong in 1968.

John Lehmann British writer

Rudolf John Frederick Lehmann was an English poet and man of letters. He founded the periodicals New Writing and The London Magazine, and the publishing house of John Lehmann Limited.

Between 1971 and 1986 he was literature director of the Arts Council of Great Britain. This involved dispensing government grants, and Osborne, perhaps inevitably, given the nature of the position, became embroiled in the so-called "poetry wars" that took place during the 1970s. [2] Osborne gave an account of his tenure at the Arts Council in his autobiography Giving it Away: Memoirs of a Uncivil Servant. This sheds light on his influential role at the Arts Council, [1] as does Peter Barry's 2006 book, Poetry Wars: British Poetry of the 1970s and the Battle of Earl's Court.

Between 1986 and 1991, Osborne was chief drama critic for the Daily Telegraph. He continued to write journalism on a wide variety of arts, leading to Vogue magazine dubbing him an uomo universale (universal man).

Osborne wrote about opera and published books on Verdi, Wagner, Mozart, Puccini, Richard Strauss and the bel canto operas. [1] His book, The Complete Operas of Verdi, was the first on that composer by someone who had actually seen all the operas staged. It was translated into Italian and published by Ugo Mursia Editore  [ it ]. The Opera Lover's Companion appeared in 2004. He also from early years in London wrote sleeve notes LP covers, and served on the editorial board of Opera magazine from 1970 to 1999. [1]

Osborne published an original novel, Pink Danube, in 2000 and adapted works for the stage as novels, which have been widely reprinted and translated into many languages. His novelised versions of Black Coffee (1998), The Unexpected Guest (1999) and Spider's Web (2000), all originally by Agatha Christie, have proved enduringly popular with readers. He has also adapted Blithe Spirit (2004), by Noël Coward, and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest .

Osborne held an honorary doctorate from Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, for services to the arts and was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. [1] He was a former president, and later council member, of the UK Critics Circle.

In 2009, the Italian state conferred on him the honorific title of Commendatore dell'Ordine della Stella della solidarietà italiana, known as the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity, for his outstanding contribution to the life and works of Verdi. [1]

In 2011, The King's Head Theatre, London, staged a successful world premiere of an Oscar Wilde play, Constance . The only play by Wilde previously unproduced, Constance was unearthed, translated and adapted by Osborne from the original French. Professor Joseph Bristow, a Wilde scholar based at UCLA wrote "Constance presents us with a startling Wildean drama in an arresting style. I left the King's Head Theater realizing that Wilde might have truly become the Irish Ibsen of his day."[ citation needed ]

He died on 23 September 2017. [2]

Selected works

General

Music

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Campbell, Ian. Obituary - Charles Osborne. Opera, November 2017, Vol.68 No.11, p4133.
  2. 1 2 "Charles Osborne, actor, poet, critic and biographer – obituary" . The Telegraph . 13 October 2017. ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 15 October 2017.