Allan Zavod

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Dr Allan Zavod OAM

Article Featured in The Australian Jewish News (Melbourne) January 2017

For the family of the late pianist and composer Dr Allan Zavod, his Medal of the Order of Australia is a tribute to the achievements of the Melbourne-born jazz icon, who died last year.

Zavod had been informed of his impending Australia Day award shortly before he passed away, aged 69, from an inoperable brain tumour last November.

His wife Christine told the AJN: "He was excited, humbled and honoured to receive this recognition.

"Although he spent a majority of his career in the United States, he always loved coming home to see his parents and do concerts, charities and workshops at universities throughout Australia," she said.

"As Allan's wife, I was in awe of his enormous larger-than-life persona and boundless good energy. He was a fun, generous, loving husband, father and son."

Zavod's 93-year-old mother Annie added: "I feel very proud to be his mother. My only sadness is that he won't be here in person for us all to see and feel his happiness in receiving this well-deserved honour."

His son Zak described the OAM as "a great honour and recognition of his contribution to Australian culture... A large part of what made him so passionate about music was sharing it with people everywhere. This award is a recognition of that sharing. It's a way for all of us to say thank you."

Discovered by jazz legend Duke Ellington, who heard him play during a visit to Melbourne in 1969, Zavod later made his home in the US for three decades, playing, recording and touring with greats such as Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Glenn Miller and George Benson.

Zavod also performed with Eric Clapton, James Morrison, Judith Durham, Sting, violinist Nigel Kennedy, comedian Robin Williams and Israeli star Chaim Topol.

Among his many compositions was Olympic Rhapsody for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Zavod was also a musical educator, lecturing in classical-jazz fusion at the University of Melbourne.

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Australia Day 2017

Dr Allan Hyam ZAVOD, PO Box 132, Toorak Vic 3142
For service to the performing arts as a musician and composer.

Service includes:


  • Good Vibrations Concertato for Orchestra, Queensland Youth Orchestra, 2015.
  • The Environmental Symphony, performed by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, 2015.
  • Oboe Concerto (performed by Diana Doherty), 2011.
  • Environmental Symphony (narrated by Sir Richard Branson), Banksia Environmental Awards, 2010.
  • Olympic Rhapsody, Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, 2000.
  • The Hobbit stage production score, Polyglot Theatre Company, 1996.
  • Composed scores for over 40 films, documentaries, television and theatre.
  • Concerto Australiana, Australian Youth Orchestra, Australia Day Bi-Centennial, Sydney Opera House, 1988.
  • Trumpet Concerto, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Munich Radio Orchestra, Germany, 2002.
  • Winner, Popular Song Contest, Asian Broadcasting Union, Malaysia, 1987.
  • Recording, Red Cross International, Centenary of First Nobel Peace Prize, United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, 2000.
  • Winner, Festival of Living Composers 2006, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, New Orleans, USA.


  • Pianist, ANZAC Centenary Tour, Friends of Gallipoli, 2015, accompanying Dame Malvina Major.
  • Piano Performance before HRH Prince Charles, Jazz Choir VCA, 1989.
  • Piano Performance before HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Government House Victoria ABC Showband, 1968.
  • Volunteer performer, Rylands of Kew Retirement Village.
  • Former Musical Director, Good Morning Australia, Network 10 Television.


  • Former Lecturer, Classical-Jazz Fusion, University of Melbourne and Doctor of Music, 2009.
  • Involved in the development of the Australian Composition Resource Kit for High Schools in New South Wales, 2001.
  • Benefactor, Zavod Annual Composers Award, University of Melbourne, Victoria.
  • Benefactor, Zavod Annual Performers Award, Monash University, Victoria.
  • Artist in Residence, Wesley College.
  • Fellow, Mannix College, Monash University.
  • Former Tutor, Composition Courses, Victorian College of the Arts.
  • Former Professor of Music, Berklee College of Music, Boston, USA.
  • Writer, Australian Musician Magazine, 'for 15 years'.