Powerful figure in Australian music from the 1930s to the 1970s. He introduced classical music into Australia's mainstream culture.
He began composing while he was a child, with the first professional performance of his work occurring when he was six.
His versatility was shown on his soundtrack for the 1935 film "The Burgomeister," for which he wrote a drinking song, a peasant song, a waltz, and a lullaby.
His parents immigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, his birthplace, after living in Eastern Europe. They were of Jewish heritage. He had four marriages, with fourth wife Virginia outlasting him.
He served as Noel Coward's accompanist during the actor's 1940 appearance in Melbourne.