Pianist Tommy Tycho Dies
Influential and much loved award winning arranger of Advance Australia Fair passes away at the age of 84.
Hungarian born Tommy Tycho was a multi-talented pianist, conductor, composer and arranger who worked on Australian television for many years from 1956 onwards as well as composing a number of important film scores. His breadth of styles embraced both classical and popular music but he was probably best known for the version of the national anthem, Advance Australia Fair, that is generally used to accompany singers at major sporting events.
Tommy Tycho was born in Budapest in 1928 and was soon recognised as a child prodigy pianist, playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra at the tender age of 10. His first teachers included Zoltán Kodály and Leo Weiner. Despite the fact that his Jewish parents became Lutheran he was interned in a German labour camp in and was lucky to survive the war. In 1948 he fled Hungary for Iran, where he became the personal pianist to the Shah before moving on to Australia in 1951.
From 1956 until 1971 he was Musical Director for the Seven Network and conducted all the ABC symphony orchestras, famously being involved in the opening festivities for the Sydney Opera House.
He worked with many great Australian artists including Peter Allen, Olivia Newton-John, John Farnham, Anthony Warlow, Jill Perryman, Barry Crocker, David Campbell, Judy Connelli, Marina Prior and Rob Guest. He also worked with many international stars including Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole, Shirley Bassey, Louis Armstrong, Jerry Lewis and Frank Sinatra.
After a heart attack in 1980 he was treated by Dr Victor Chang and in 2008 he performed at the piano at the opening of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Tycho suffered a stroke in 2008 which forced him into a nursing home. Despite being paralysed down his left side he continued to compose and play with his right hand.
He died on 4 April 2013, aged 84, one week before his 85th birthday.