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The School of Natural Philosophy

Michael Kieran Harvey plays new music for keyboard. Featuring the works of Graham Hair, Douglas Knehans, Martin Friedel, Richard Meale and Hilda Paredes.

All my life I have been fascinated by the interaction of science and art, especially with music. In an age where art music seems to have been relegated to the area of palliative care by "market forces", the uncompromising approach of some composers still willing to embrace science and the natural world seems to me very much in the spirit of the Enlightenment: to oppose the monolithic hegemonies of church, state and ideology, and instead fight for pluralism and individual freedom, to think for oneself, and to pursue one's curiosity.

Martin Friedel is one such composer - a trained scientist, he is also one of the few Australian composers able to earn his living purely from composing. His School pieces are brief but compelling snapshots of discoveries unimaginable without the Enlightenment. Stars and our relationship to nature are the undercurrents of Graham Hair's 3 extant transcendental etudes. Douglas Knehans' Boyd Panels were written at Bundanon, and conjure up the stillness, diversity and playfulness of the natural world, so breathtakingly evident in the Shoalhaven area of New South Wales. The failure of the Biosphere project is a reminder of how reliant we are on millions of other species for our survival on Earth, and in Australia this species diversity is increasingly only possible through private oases like Bundanon. Surreal images of nature like Boyd's crucified trees link in my mind to Paredes' Triptico, where the Calligram, or beautiful symbol, could be the intricate equations of string theory, or A Contra Luz, against the light, could represent the bending of light by gravity.

This makes Coruscations an appropriate inclusion, especially as the recent explanation for the Auroras surrounding the earth are "magnetic reconnections", the result of magnetic field lines colliding and releasing large amounts of kinetic energy towards earth. I grew up with an expectation of a lifetime pursuit of music which was propelled by the idea of the end of posterity. The awe-inspiring scale of such cosmic forces makes human hubris seem pitifully trite, yet makes human creativity and love seem all the more endearingly mysterious.

- Michael Kieran Harvey

A video of a discussion about how science shapes Martin Friedel's approach to his composition. Michael Kieran Harvey plays fragments from "The School of Natural Philosophy" ...


Michael Kieran Harvey

Australian pianist and composer, Dr Michael Kieran Harvey FAHA, is one of the foremost interpreters of contemporary piano music of his generation. A champion of Australian music and himself a composer, he regularly commissions new Australian music and has performed with Australia's leading contemporary music ensembles and orchestras.

Press quotes

“One of the few serious Australian musicians who continually challenges himself, Michael Kieran Harvey has here produced on Move Records a sterling display of his gifts for interpreting music of our time. Massive and crystalline in turn, the 24 tracks carve a path through difficult terrain that Harvey always contrives to make accessible.”

— Clive O'Connell, The Age

“Harvey has been building up a bit of a collection for himself, with impeccable performances of music with an intellectual rather than a romantic edge”

— Phil Vendy, 2MBS Fine Music Magazine

Audio previews

Track Listing

    The School of Natural Philosophy Martin Friedel

  1. The refraction of light :52
  2. Descarte's space 1:50
  3. Gravitational attraction 2:05
  4. Interference pattern :36
  5. Brownian motion :41
  6. The ether rings 3:02
  7. Minkowski's Weltlinie 2:09
  8. De Broglie's wave :54
  9. The wave equation 3:34
  10. ... and one of its solutions 3:43
  11. Heavy water 2:34
  12. Schrödinger's cat 1:38
  13. Transcendental concert studies on themes form the Australian poets Graham Hair

  14. Under Aldebaran 3:54
  15. Wild cherries and honeycomb 5:35
  16. Dances and devilment and sunlit airs 2:48
  17. Boyd Panels Douglas Knehans

  18. Meditation at Pulpit Rock 2:59
  19. Crucifixion and rose 1:29
  20. Shoalhaven light 4:22
  21. The magic fish 2:09
  22. Black river 2:16
  23. Triptico Hilda Paredes

  24. Caligrama 5:20
  25. A contraluz 5:20
  26. Parábola 4:21
  27. Coruscations Richard Meale Arr: Michael Kieran Harvey 8:22



Hilda Paredes

Firmly established as one of the leading Mexican composers of her generation, Hilda Paredes has made her home in London since 1979 and her music is now performed widely around the world.

Graham Hair

Born in Geelong, composer Graham Hair has received numerous commissions from such organisations as Duo Contemporain and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1990 he took up the position of Gardiner Professor at the University of Glasgow.

Douglas Knehans

Douglas Knehans' works have been broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as well as in USA and Italy. His music has been commissioned and performed by some of Australia and America's leading ensembles and soloists and he has been featured in two books on Australian music (A Handbook of Australian Music and A Companion to Music in Australia) as well as the International Who's Who in Music and Musicians Directory (UK)

Martin Friedel

Martin Friedel came to Australia with his family from Germany as a child in the 1950s. His family settled in Narbethong, a small saw milling settlement on the Great Dividing Range in Victoria and he went on to complete degrees in physics and mathematics and a PhD in chemistry from Melbourne University.

Richard Meale

Richard Meale (1932-2009) was one of the towering figures of Australian composition. After initial music studies in piano, clarinet, harp, history and theory at the Sydney Conservatorium, Meale also studied non-Western music at UCLA, especially Japanese court music and Javanese and Balinese gamelan.

Where to buy

The School of Natural Philosophy is available for download from the iTunes Music Store.
It's available for streaming through Apple Music.

The School of Natural Philosophy is available as as CD. It can be purchased online through Buywell Music or the Australian Music Centre which both offer secure online ordering.

Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.

Product details

Recorded at the Move Records Studio, Melbourne Australia.

(all except track 24)

List price
$25.00 AUD
Total playing time
72 minutes 33 seconds
Arthur Boyd
Belinda Webster
Kanako Okamoto
Tony Hutchings
Martin Wright
Vaughan McAlley
Vaughan McAlley
Martin Wright
Move Records Studio (all except track 24)
Release date
© 2008 Move Records
℗ 2008 Move Records
Australian, Classical, Keyboard
Catalogue number
MD 3324
Alternate catalogue number
EAN 9314574332421