He was born and raised in Narrabundah, Canberra, and attended St Edmund's College, Narrabundah, where his piano teacher was Keith Radford. He studied piano and musicology at the University of Melbourne where he met the musicologist Malcolm Gillies. Kildea's 2013 book, Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century, is dedicated "For two teachers, Malcolm and Keith", a nod to Gillies and Radford. He also gained a doctorate from the University of Oxford. His doctoral thesis was published as Selling Britten (2002). The filming rights to Kildea's 2018 book, Chopin's Piano, have been acquired by Donald Rosenfeld of Sovereign Films; Daniil Trifonov is slated to perform Chopin's music.
From 2014 until 2016 he served as artistic director of the biennial Four Winds Festival in Bermagui on the New South Wales South Coast. In 2019 he was appointed artistic director of Musica Viva Australia. Kildea resides in Melbourne, Australia.
- Britten: Selling Britten (2002)
- Britten on Music (2003)
- Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century (2013)
- Chopin's Piano (2018)
- Higham, Nick (8 February 2013). "Meet the Author: Paul Kildea". BBC News. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
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- "Dr Paul Kildea". Gresham College. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
- Musa, Helen (16 March 2012). "Former Canberran to head Four Winds Festival". citynews.com.au. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- "Four Winds new Director". Narooma News. 26 February 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
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- "Maestro Daniil Trifonov to evoke spirit of Chopin on original pianos" by Dalya Alberge, The Guardian, 16 December 2018
- People – Previous Artistic Directors, fourwinds.com.au
- "Paul Kildea is Musica Viva’s new Artistic Director" by Justine Nguyen, Limelight, 3 June 2019