Origin: Melbourne, Australia

Instrument: Piano, electric piano

Genre: Jazz fusion, jazz Musician, actor

Born: 16 October 1945
Melbourne, Australia

Died: 29 November 2016 (aged 71)
Melbourne, Australia

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Allan Zavod

Allan Zavod was an Australian pianist, composer, jazz musician and occasional conductor whose career had mainly been in America.

Zavod completed a music degree from the Melbourne Conservatorium, University of Melbourne in 1969. His talent as a pianist was recognised by Duke Ellington, who arranged for him to study at the Berklee College of Music, Boston – where Zavod was later a professor of music.

In his career Zavod has collaborated with some well-known international musicians such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, George Benson, Eric Clapton, Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa, as well as Australian musicians the drummer Des McKenna, Wilbur Wild, Red Symonds and Daryl on Hey Hey Its Saturday James Morrison, Kate Ceberano and Judith Durham. He has performed for the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales and several Heads of State.

Zavod was based in the US for 20 years, where he played, toured and recorded with some of the world’s biggest names like the Glenn Miller Orchestra. When he wasn’t on the road he scored more than 30 US and Australian films and TV shows.

Zavod was a pioneer in a compositional style that combines classical and jazz genres, where musicians from both worlds share the same concert platform equally.

Zavod’s symphonic works have been performed by orchestras in Australia, Europe and the US.

As a film composer Zavod scored over 30 films, including a movie with Eric Clapton.

He composed the Environmental Symphony for orchestra, narrator and synchronized visuals which was performed at the 2010 Banksia Environmental Awards and narrated by Sir Richard Branson.

The University of Melbourne awarded Zavod the Degree of Doctor of Music in recognition of his international achievements as a composer.

Australian-born pianist-composer Allan Zavod was classically trained at University of Melbourne Conservatorium after being awarded the prestigious full Ormond scholarship. Married to author-artist Christine Zavod, he had one son, Zak. As a musician he moved across genres from classical to rock-fusion. Today he is considered an Australian pioneer in the classical-jazz fusion genre, where he embraces a unique creative blend of improvised jazz and classical music.

In the late 1960s he was discovered by Duke Ellington, who arranged for him to further his jazz studies at famed Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts, US, where Allan later held a post as professor. He spent the following 30 years in the US performing, recording and touring the states and the world with many of America’s music greats, including Glenn Miller Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson big band, Cab Calloway, Billy Cobham, Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock, Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa. By the 1980s he was named by America’s celebrated Downbeat Poll as one of the top 10 pianists in the US.

Throughout a distinguished career Zavod performed before Her Majesty the Queen and years later H.R.H. Prince Charles and Princess Diana and recently H.R.H. Prince and Princess Norodom of Cambodia, heads of country and state, foreign dignitaries, government bodies, universities and charitable organizations in many countries.

During his long and eclectic career as performer, composer, music director, arranger, producer, conductor, he appeared on American and Australian talk shows and music programs worldwide. A world tour with Frank Zappa has earned him 32 place in several current US internet Catalogues of ‘100 best keyboard / piano players of all time’ Described as a keyboard wizard, Zavod toured Australia with Sting, toured and performed with George Benson, violin virtuoso Nigel Kennedy, trumpeter James Morrison, Vietnam’s celebrated Tran Man at the Opera House Hanoi and in the 1970s performed a regular comedy routine at the L.A. Comedy Store with Robin Williams. He accompanied Joe Cocker, Natalie Cole, and Topol, met with the Dalai Lama and performed a fundraiser. In Turkey, for Istanbul TRT Television, he performed the second movement of his piano concerto. Most rewarding were solo, trio and orchestral performances of his much loved Gershwin in concerts in Europe, America, Asia and Australia.

As a film composer Zavod has written scores for over 40 films, documentaries, television and theatre, including a US movie with Eric Clapton, a film for Disney and the Theatre production of The Hobbit. For several years he was a judge of the Australian Film Industry Awards. Zavod has written large orchestral works for state orchestras in Europe, America, Asia and Australia, including:

Six Concertos: (for Piano, Trumpet, Trombone, Violin, Guitar, Oboe)
Concertato for Orchestra: Works for Choir, Brass Band, Classical and Jazz
The International Red Cross, celebrating the centennial of the first Nobel Peace Prize, United Nations Geneva Switzerland:
Work for The Olympic Games I.O.C. Performance and recording Sydney, Australia
Hurricane Katrina commemoration, New Orleans, Louisiana
Australian archive of Jewish Music
Bi Centennial Australia Day celebrations Televised Nationally Opera House Sydney.
Orchestrations of Traditional Folk songs for Vietnamese National Symphony Orchestra, Hanoi Vietnam
2015 Anzac Gallipoli commemoration Zavod performed on board ship at a dawn service in Anzac Cove Gallipoli with New Zealand Opera Singer Dame Malvina Major: ‘Australia Remembers’ WW11 Gala tribute.(arrangements)
5-movement symphony ‘The Environmental Symphony for Orchestra, Narrator and Synchronized Visuals.’ Narration written by Scientist Dr Alan Finkel Chancellor of Monash University and narrated by Sir Richard Branson.
As an educator, Zavod has given lectures, master classes and workshops at universities in America and Australia and to Aboriginal students in schools in Northern W. Australia. He devised and taught an elective in classical-jazz fusion at University of Melbourne. His Concerto for Trumpet, Jazz trio and Orchestra manuscript and CD was used by the Education Department of NSW in HSC Cariculum in all high schools in NSW. Australia.

Zavod wrote monthly music lessons for ‘Australian Musician’ Magazine for 15 years. As a pioneer in the classical–jazz fusion or 3rd stream genre. He has two student music awards in his name: The Zavod Classical-Jazz fusion Composers Award Administered by The University of Melbourne and The Zavod Classical-Jazz Performers Award administered by Monash University.

Zavod’s awards include: The International Film and Television Award New York City: The Australian Writers and Directors Award: The WROC Australian Songwriter Award: The Australian Film Composers Award :Winner of the Asian Broadcasting Song Contest representing Australia (Soloist Kate Ceberano) Televised to eighty million viewers across Asia: Winner (1of 3) Worldwide composer competition for ‘Festival of Living Composers’ New Orleans, US.

In 2009 Zavod was awarded the Doctor of Music Degree by the University of Melbourne. Being one of only five recipients of an earned doctorate in composition over the history of the University, this higher doctorate is awarded to scholars who have “made an international contribution to music knowledge.”

Original compositions performed[edit]
2015 Flurry A work for violin, clarinet and piano
2015 Good Vibrations Concertato for Orchestra Queensland Youth Orchestra Conductor John Curro AM MBE World Premiere Q.PAC Concert Hall Qld. Aus.
2011 Concerto for Oboe soloist Diana Doherty, Queensland Youth Symphony conductor John Curro AM MBE. World Premiere QPAC Qld.
2010 Urban Concerto for Guitar, Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra soloist Slava Grigoryan with SBS Television and Radio Youth Orchestra. World premiere, Sydney Aus.
2010 Environmental Symphony for Orchestra and Narrator to be performed Oct 15 at The Banksia Awards, Sydney, Narrator Sir Richard Branson Narrative written by Dr Alan Finkel AM World premier Sydney.Aus.
2010 The Super Jam Sessions- Nigel Kennedy violin, Zavod keyboards Abbotsford Convent Melb, Basement Sydney Aus.
2008 Australian Concert Trio on tour with “Sting” Zavod piano, David Berlin cello, Slava Grigoryan guitar Sydney Opera House. Melb. Concert Hall. Festival Theatre Perth. Adelaide concert hall. Aus.
2006 Force D’Esprit commissioned and performed by Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Klauspeter Seibel. World premiere New Orleans US.
2003 Concerto for Jazz Trombone soloist James Morrison with the Munich Radio Orchestra conductor Gavin Sutherland. World premiere Munich, Germany.
2003 Concerto for Trumpet, Jazz Trio and Orchestra soloist James Morrison with the Munich Radio Orchestra, conductor Gavin Sutherland- Munich, Germany.
2001 Concerto for Trumpet, Jazz Trio and Orchestra soloist James Morrison with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra . Opera House Sydney Aus.
2000 Olympic Rhapsody Zavod solo piano : composed and performed for I.O.C. Sydney Olympics
2000 Youth Suite for Classical Orchestra and Jazz Ensembles Wesley College Melbourne
2000-1985… Thirty US and Australian film scores including a movie with celebrated guitarist Eric Clapton, A Disney film and an award-winning Australian children’s film for “Shines” director Scott Hicks.
1996 The Hobbit scored for Australian live theatre nationally (Polyglot Theatre Company) Recording.
1995 Concerto for Trumpet, Jazz Trio and Orchestra soloist James Morrison with the Adelaide Symphony Orch. World Premiere Adelaide Concert Hall.
1989 Le Promenade for Symphonic Band Melbourne Youth Symphonic Band (Melbourne Youth Music Council)
1988 Concerto Australiana A Piano Concerto for Jazz Trio and Orchestra. (Australia Council commission) Performed on Australia Day, Australian Bicentennial at the Sydney Opera House. Soloist/composer Allan Zavod with Australian Youth Orchestra- live national broadcast ABC TV. Released in association with ABC for audio recording and televised broadcast-World premiere
1988 Rockin Along Commissioned by and for the Australian Girls Choir.
1987 Winner Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union Song Contest held in Kuala Lumpur, representing Australia sponsored by SBS Song Composer and Music Director. (soloist Kate Ceberano, lyrics F. Howson)