Archives for June 2003

Maintain the Rag, A Celebration of the Whitlam Years

This is the text of Gough Whitlam’s speech to the Australian Institute of Music, in Sydney.

Thank you, Peter Calvo, for your introduction and your invitation to the John Painter Hall at the Australian Institute of Music. John Painter was a former director of the Canberra School of Music and is currently Senior Academic Advisor to this Australian Institute of Music.

I am happy that the most common question asked by reviewers of this CD is not “why celebrate the Whitlam years?” but rather “why celebrate them in rag?” The rag’s most distinctive feature is its syncopated melody. As a noted Italophile I point out “syncopation” is known to Italian musicians as alla zoppa, meaning “limping”, or literally, “as a cripple”. I trust my advancing years did not influence the choice.

It was a century ago this year that the first ever rag opera was performed; it was called “The Guest of Honour”. Perhaps that most famous of ragtime melodies, Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer”, could serve as an alternate title for this collection. I am told that even those who have never liked politics have at least found me entertaining. I take comfort that they come from near and far when I turn to vaudeville. [Read more…]