Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014)

The Australian composer has died aged 85

Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014)

Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe has died at the age of 85.

One of Australia's foremost composers, Sculthorpe was awarded an OBE in 1977, an AO in 1990 and was elected a Living National Treasure in 1998. He was a recipient of the Silver Jubilee Medal.

Born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1929, Sculthorpe studied music at the University of Melbourne before moving to Wadham College, Oxford. He worked as a visiting professor at the University of Sussex in the 1970s and later become an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney and a Harkness Fellow at Yale University.

Sculthorpe's compositions, often inspired by aboriginal culture and music from Asia, evoke the Australian landscape as well as his personal concerns with global conservation and ecology.

He wrote eighteen string quartets: Op.16 (2006) addresses the plight of asylum-seekers in Australia's detention centres and Op.18 (2010) is devoted to the subject of climate change. His 2003 Requiem laments the death of women and children in the Iraq war. Other compositions include Irhanda (1960) and Rites of Passage, which was originally commissioned for the opening of the Sydney Opera House in October 1973.

Sally Cavender, Vice-Chairman of Faber Music, has said: 'Peter joined Faber Music in 1965, our founding year, and our relationship with him throughout these 49 years has been a joy and a pleasure from that time until now. His music is absolutely distinct, individual and lyrical, and expresses the warmth and simplicity of the man himself. His loss will be felt by his many pupils who now number amongst Australia’s most successful composers, and by Australian musical culture at large which he so profoundly influenced and reflected.'

- Eliot McGuire

  • Article Type: | News |
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